Design tips for creating the perfect office reception area
Monday, 18th May 2015, Paul Dore
Image: Ben Kraan Architecten BNA Source: benkraan.nl
When meeting a client for the first time, you wouldn't turn up in a tracksuit and some muddy trainers. No, you'd don your best suit and make sure you look as smart as possible. This is because you know that first impressions matter. Like it or not, people judge us for the way we look and dress, and the same goes for your office.
The reception is the first area your visitors will see, so it's vital that it looks as smart and sophisticated as you do. Your employees will be spending a lot of time here too, so practicality is also important. There are a lot of things to consider when designing an office, so here are a few tips to help you perfect yours.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Image: William Blair, London. Source: flickr.com/photos/k2space/14264519523/
Having plenty of comfortable places to sit is vital in a reception area, as many people will need to pass through it, day in, day out. You may have people coming in for job interviews, clients dropping by for meetings and experts passing through to conduct training sessions. None of these people want to stand around waiting for their appointment, especially if they have to wait for more than five minutes.
Stiff, uncomfortable chairs are just as bad as no chairs at all! Make your clients and visitors feel at home by providing them with cushy sofas and plush single chairs (not everyone wants to be crammed together on a sofa). The more comfortable they are, the less stressed they're going to be, which is always good news for you.
Interesting magazines and drink-making facilities are also a must for keeping your visitors entertained while they wait. Try to keep your reading materials as up to date as possible - it could be worth subscribing to a couple of publications relevant to your industry. Make your guests feel welcome by offering to make them a drink or provide them with a self-service machine they can use. A simple water cooler will do the job.
Make your desk make a statement
The reception desk will be the centrepiece of any lobby, as it's the place everyone will want to head to first. Making it large, spacious and placing it within your visitor's immediate vision will ensure it is easy to find and welcoming to approach. If you want your business to come across as luxurious and wealthy, a granite reception desk is ideal. It looks sleek, smooth, shiny, and it is also very hard-wearing.
Although looks are important when it comes to your reception desk, practicality is crucial too. After all, someone will be working behind it, and will therefore need enough space to do everything they have to do. A messy reception desk looks bad and will not give your visitors much confidence, so ensure your receptionist has enough hidden storage space to help them keep the main surface completely free of clutter.
Ensure the space reflects your business
Image: Valve’s office. Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Valve_Lobby_2010.jpg
All the best reception areas are bursting with their company's personality. Video game developer Valve, for example, incorporates the dark, almost grimy colours the company is known for (black, grey and orange) to create an industrial feel. There's even a giant valve in the centre of the room, so you know whose offices you are in. Artwork from the video games it has developed can also be found on the walls.
The colours you pick for your office space don't necessarily have to come from your logo or brand, but consider what sort of personality you want the space to have. Creative companies tend to have bright reception areas that come across as quirky, fun and friendly. A bank or property development firm may wish to keep their reception looking neutral and professional by picking much plainer colours and using natural stone and wood for flooring, tables, walls and desks.
Use the walls to show off your work and achievements! Framed photos of your awesome employees, any great awards you've earned recently and pictures of the projects you’re most proud of will inject a human touch into the most corporate of companies. If you're a property developer, for example, you'll obviously want to display images of some of the buildings you have worked on.
Choose hard-wearing materials
Every single one of your employees will pass through your reception at least twice a day, and when you consider numerous delivery people and visitors will be walking through it too, it's fair to say this area is well-used. For this reason, it's a good idea to use hard-wearing materials that will stand the test of time for every single feature.
Granite is an incredibly tough material, but it is also very attractive. It is, therefore, perfect for creating luxury receptions desks and beautiful flooring. Carpet, on the other hand, wears away very quickly and can become stained over time. Granite or laminate flooring is much easier to clean.
When it comes to your chairs and sofas, leather is the safest option. Again, it looks good, is very hard-wearing and is easy to clean. It certainly won't be the end of the world if a nervous interviewee spills their coffee on the sofa, as leather is very difficult to stain.
Whether your office is based in Hampshire or New York, its reception must look warm, welcoming and full of your company's personality if you want to impress everyone who walks through its doors. Hopefully the above tips and examples will provide you with enough inspiration to go and create your own perfect reception space.