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Tips for creating the perfect office reception area

When designing your office reception focus on comfort, convenience and branding to make a memorable first impression.

By Making Moves London

When designing your next office space, it is common to pour a lot of attention into meeting rooms, the boardroom, and general working spaces. They’re important spaces in which the workforce spends a lot of time. However, the design of the office reception area shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s the first port of call for staff, visitors, guests, partners and prospects alike and so it should leave a strong first impression, as well as a good feeling on the way out. 

To make your next office fit-out easier – and to make your reception area unforgettable, here are our top tips and ideas for creating the perfect office reception space.

What is the importance of an office reception?

The office reception can be viewed as the ‘shop window’ of your office space. Every visitor, delivery, partner, staff member, client, and anyone dealing with a business for the briefest period of time will see and form an impression based upon the first interaction with a reception space. It’s a room which isn’t often given enough time, space or attention, but one which should be functional, comfortable, and efficient. Some things to remember:

Make a great first impression

First impressions count. The reception area might be a customer’s first offline interaction with your business, making it a critical touchpoint in forming their perception of what it’s like working with you.

The Recency Effect also states that people leaving the office will most likely remember the reception area, the final touchpoint. So when showing guests out, it is important for your reception area to help make it a pleasant and pain-free experience.

An opportunity to showcase your branding 

An office reception area is a blank canvas for creativity, so make the most of every part of it. Choose a full wall mural with your logo or your best work and make sure any items around the space are branded, bold and memorable. 

Even things like the colour and material of plant pots, the lighting used, and any ambient music or smells say something about your business, so make sure the reception area reflects your core values.

A calming, welcoming space for visitors

A reception area that calms can be a positive influence for staff and visitors alike, particularly those with a slight wait ahead of them. The use of natural light and plants, minimising harsh sounds, and providing comfortable spaces to wait will all help visitors relax. 

Ensure staff are adequately trained on providing the most friendly welcome possible, and your guests will arrive composed and able to head into meetings in a positive mood. An efficient and welcoming reception space can even help boost productivity.

Create an environment for positivity

With most reception areas being customer-facing, they should be of utmost importance. But even smaller scale, more private reception areas that only serve staff should still provide a place of zen. 

A well-designed office reception area can help instil a sense of pride in the workplace and positivity towards being in the office, particularly in the hybrid era. This positivity will spread through visitors and staff members alike — with the move to remote working, staff demand a workplace that meets their needs and is worth the commute.

The overall move towards offices as experiential spaces

Since the pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid working, offices have become increasingly experiential spaces.

Lean into this, and make your reception area wow. If staff are only in the office two or three times a week, it should be inviting with all the home comforts they’ve come to expect – and more.

The best reception areas will be memorable. Make the most of those feature walls and invite guests to share them on social media, turning a typically boring area of the office into a branding opportunity. 

It’s also an opportunity to educate your visitors. Perhaps a history or timeline of the business, feature key milestones, shout about your charitable efforts, or any other information that people can easily digest while they’re waiting or passing through.

For businesses that transact entirely online such as ecommerce companies, a grand and creative reception area might be one of a few offline customer-facing areas, so perhaps add a signature feature or two – who can forget slides in the reception of Google’s HQ?

What should be in an office reception?

While size and specification of reception areas can differ depending on business needs and industry, three things usually emerge as being critically important – cleanliness, comfort, and convenience.

  • Visitors and staff alike should expect to see a clean office reception area.
  • For those waiting or just passing through, comfort is key – be it temperature, ambience, or materials used for furniture etc.
  • Finally, a reception area should be convenient for all users. From effective access management systems to having uncluttered waiting areas and useful information, the reception area should be a useful hub of any office space.

Tips for creating the perfect office reception area

There’s a lot to consider when designing the perfect reception area, but here are some starting points to make sure your new reception is the best 

Making it hard-wearing

With the reception area being one of the most trafficked areas of any office, it needs to be durable, and hard-wearing. Choose materials that won’t show wear and tear too quickly, can be easily replaced if they do, and will last. This covers the things like the flooring materials used, as well as the furniture items. 

Don’t leave visitors and staff with a shabby impression because of a tattered old sofa and worn-out carpet – choose something that’ll be able to grow with your business, and ‘feels’ expensive – even if it isn’t necessarily so. Investing in quality materials now will pay off in the long run.

Logo/statement walls

Treat your reception area as a key branding opportunity. Make it a memorable visit, and leave no mistake as to whose office space this is!

Depending on your industry, go for a strong wall mural or vinyl of your logo. Neon lighting or a large statement wall makes a bold and unforgettable statement in the right industries, and ensure that all visible items like pens are branded up.

Make it welcoming

Whether it’s a guest’s first or fiftieth visit, the reception area should exude a welcoming feeling to all. 

The presence of plants is proven to make people feel more peaceful and positive. Similarly, soft, natural lighting improves mood and increases happiness.

Whether it’s plants, lighting, ambient sound, or even smells, and the materials used for seating, these can all soften a space and invite a calming atmosphere, making a perfect arrival for your guests.

Effective visitor access/management system

Even if your reception area sees a relatively low volume of people passing through, it’s still important to make the process of people coming and going as smooth as possible. While reception staff can help make this efficient and provide service with a smile, a good access management system will make things even easier. 

Efficiency is key here – minimise waiting times by getting people to where they need to be as quickly as possible. An effective access management system will keep frustrations low and not put too much of a strain on your reception staff – no one likes to wait to be seen! 

Comfortable furniture 

High-quality furnishings – sofas, chairs, cushions, and even tables and anything tactile in the reception area should be high quality. Especially for visitors who might have a small wait, it’s essential that they’re comfortable and won’t be frustrated by any delays. 

Items will be used regularly so also ensure they’re durable, and can cope with the throughput of your visitors. Reception furniture is going to be heavily used, so invest a little extra where possible. 

Make it an efficient space by involving staff

Reception areas can easily become bottlenecks in the office, so try and make sure throughput is efficient and not cramped.

Ask receptionists, who use the area and are experts in understanding the ebb and flow for their ideas. They’ll likely know the busiest times of the day, week, month, and will have real-world ideas on making the space move quickly.

Plan and map out  the busiest walkways and ensure they’re clutter-free, key rooms are easy to find or well signposted, and visitors have no confusion about where they’re headed.

Accessible and abundant amenities

Of course, any reception area should have a waiting space, bathroom access, perhaps a small space to work or even just catch up on an email or two. 

Go to the next level and offer surprising and useful amenities at reception. Perhaps it is as simple as a well-stocked refreshments station, or something more unusual. If the space is particularly buzzy with people coming and going for amenities, it’s a chance to create those ‘watercooler moments’ that business culture thrives upon.

Can amenities reflect your business? That might be promoting health and wellbeing, for example providing fruit rather than a vending machine, or using sustainable products. To reflect your values. it’s another chance to leave a memorable, on-brand impression.

Internal research can ensure the reception area is right the first time — what are staff ideas and requirements for the reception space, and what are visitor needs and how are these aligned with business needs?

Align it with your brand

The brand opportunities, especially when making a first impression with visitors are huge.Use this opportunity to showcase some of your brand values right away in your new office reception. 

For example, any literature left on coffee tables could be informational or educational rather than just old magazines. Or if charity means a lot to your business, make these obvious with options to donate, or showcase your CSR. Take it a step further and add your company values to the walls themselves to make it clear to all visiting that this is what your company is about.

Now you can design the perfect office reception area

It’s easy to overlook the importance of a reception area, but it’s one of the most visited, walked through and highly visible parts of any office. 

By making it functional and comfortable, you’ll delight both staff and guests alike, leaving a lasting impression on all who pass through. If you’re working on your next commercial property and need inspiration, office fit out project management, or a full office relocation consultancy, contact the Making Moves team today.