Stand in the doorway of your company’s office and look inside. What qualities of your business do you want visitors to see right away? In the other direction, how do you want people to feel when they stand where you stand now? The view from this doorway shows both what you think of your customers and what you want them to think of you.
This is a good way to begin considering the design of your reception area.
Remember that the word “reception” means a “receiving”: taking people in, acknowledging and valuing their presence in your space. So your reception area needs to make your clients feel valued and welcomed. And what makes people feel valued? Comfort, order, and safety.
A client wants to feel a trustworthy business is, first of all, orderly. The reception area is easy to keep calm and tidy. This means you must provide reception staff with enough storage for personal belongings and for all the things they use on the job. How much storage is enough? Enough drawers and cupboards for counters to remain uncluttered by all but the basics: phone and computer. Enough closet space to keep staff’s jackets, purses and umbrellas out of sight.
A client, especially these days, wants to feel safe. Your reception area must provide for adequate social distancing and cleaning, with plenty of hand sanitizer readily available. Disposable masks should be at the ready for clients who left theirs in the car.
And a client always wants to be made comfortable. This is why you invest in the sturdiest, most comfortable furniture you can afford. You make sure the reception desk and its staff are immediately visible and easily accessible. You provide pleasant lighting and ventilation. And if you want to go the extra mile, you might even welcome clients with tea and coffee.
These are just some of the ways you can use your reception area to make your clients feel truly received. But what about the other direction – what impression do you want them to receive about you and your business?
Because that is what a reception area is: your company’s first impression. The furniture you choose, therefore, needs to be more than just sturdy and comfortable. It needs to say something about your business.
Imagine the reception area of an importer of expensive antiques. Should it be decorated with folding chairs, plastic tables, and fake palm trees? Would you trust that antique dealer?
Imagine, conversely, wanting to hire a company to market your Gen Z tech start-up. How would you feel if you were received by dark, dusty thrift-shop chairs and an ancient scuffed desk displaying fifteen-year-old desktop computers?
Be visually clear about who and what your company is from the very beginning. Whether you’re a corporate law firm symbolized by chrome and smoked glass, or a boho clothing designer embodied in macrame and unfinished wood, make sure you match your reception area vibe to your company’s unique vision.
And of course the reception area’s other job is a sort of business triage: who needs what and who goes where? A well-designed reception space will make it obvious where one needs to go on arrival, and who has the information that a visitor needs. When a customer comes in, they should not have to stand and look around for more than a second or two.
This means designing a space where arriving, leaving, and waiting clients won’t trip over one another. Clients should have an accessible and relatively secure space to leave coats and other personal items. No coat racks right inside the door, for instance.
And of course your reception desk must be large enough to accommodate people who will need to wait in front of it. But it should still be approachable enough to provide friendly but safe communication with your reception staff.
If you’re a new business, or one tightening your belt in these difficult times, you can even dispense with a human receptionist altogether and opt for a touchscreen information kiosk. Digital signage systems can help clients find their way to the correct office or showroom. For a business serving cutting-edge tech clients, digital reception could be an impressive assurance of your firm’s excellence.
The experts at Total Vision Interiors can look at your business and your space and help you design a reception area that will enhance your clients’ experience and bolster your brand. Contact us today!