Receptions: First Impressions Count!

Office receptions fulfil a vital and multi-functional role. They’re a statement space that communicates your brand and sets the tone for meetings and other interactions. A reception is also a practical area for meeting and greeting visitors before they’re escorted to other areas of your premises and can also be a place to conduct informal or impromptu meetings. So the importance of this area and the impression it makes cannot be underestimated.

Picture2Because of this, there are many departments who need an input in the design process for creating a new reception area including Senior Management, Facilities, Marketing and of course the Receptionist themselves. It’s vital they all work together to create an attractive and functioning space.

We’ve been involved in some exciting reception projects in recent years, which reflect the diversity of design across this area of the office. Clients such as the Italian food giant Sacla, tech company Glory Global (shown here) and garden product leader Scotts Miracle Gro, all had varying requirements and objectives for their reception spaces, challenging us to design something with the ‘wow’ factor.

Creating The Wow Factor In Your Reception Area

The desire to make a big impression is something we hear regularly from clients, and the reception area is the place to do it! Chris Horne from office furniture design firm, Clarke Rendall agrees, he says; “We are often told, “we want wow factor”, but we need to know what this means to you.”

Clarke Rendall are our preferred supplier for manufacturing bespoke office furniture for receptions, meeting rooms and project spaces, When designing a reception there are many factors we need to plan for, and Clarke Rendall are experts at finding innovative solutions.  We recently spoke to Chris about what makes a welcoming and professional reception area.

Chris says, “it’s all very well wanting the ‘wow’ factor but that can be very subjective. So we work hard with our clients to ensure we understand what that means to them, and how we can create a space that makes the right impression.”

If you’re planning a redesign of your reception area or are relocating to new premises, the insights below from should help you write your design brief for this space:

Should You Invest More In Your Reception Area?

“It depends on the number of visitors and type of business as not all organisations can justify staff in a reception area” says Chris. “For corporate businesses looking to make an impression it’s vital, and can set the right tone for a meeting.”

At CBS we feel that one way to think around this issue of investing in a reception area that doesn’t get a huge amount of traffic is to find alternative ways to use the space. Our office relocation project for Scotts Miracle Gro involved designing a reception area that can also be used as a showroom or event space. The sales and marketing department use this space when inviting suppliers to the premises to demonstrate products and point of sale material.

Key Features When Designing A Reception

The reception area is a great opportunity to communicate the company’s brand. For example, CBS’s reception area for Sacla features bold graphics reflecting the Italian family brand values. On the other hand the graphic in Glory Global’s reception features a cherry blossom tree as a subtle nod to the company’s Japanese heritage.

However, receptions must also fulfil some practical roles such as providing a comfortable place to wait, and a focal point to welcome guests. The following is a list of features to consider when designing a reception area:

Reception desk: a practical, hardwearing desk that looks great in your overall design but also provides storage, data and power requirements and other equipment.  DDA implications may also need to be considered.

Branding: what opportunities are there to reflect your company brand in your reception area? This could be a lightbox set into the reception desk with your logo, standout wall graphics, or more subtle elements that convey your brand such as the colours used on soft furnishing and other surfaces.

Seating area: depending on your organisation you may need to provide seating for just one or two people on occasion, or regularly host larger groups. Every visitor must feel welcome and comfortable so it is important to have enough seating, and for it to be well designed. Factor in whether your reception area will be used for other purposes such as informal meetings or a meet and greet area, and furnish it accordingly.

Hospitality: even a short wait can feel endless if you haven’t got anything to do, so make your visitors feel more welcome by providing refreshments such as free drinks machines, fruit and snacks. Free WiFi is increasingly the norm, and allows visitors to check emails or get on with work while they wait to be attended to. Our team are always grateful when we spot a charging station after a long journey; allowing visitors to charge their mobile devices may also help your meetings go more smoothly.

Entertainment: visitors also welcome some distractions when waiting in reception areas. Digital wall displays can be used to entertain and reinforce your company message, or tablets can be provided for guests to check in or find out more about the business. Lower tech options include providing reading material in the reception area, such as company information, industry publications or the latest copy of Hello!

Ergonomic chair for receptionist: Last and by no means least if you want your reception staff to provide visitors with the right welcome, it makes sense to ensure they are seated comfortably!

We hope this provides some insight into all the various factors that are needed to design a reception area that creates the right impression. Make sure that when you plan an office redesign or relocation you give your reception due consideration.  Next month look out for our top design picks for reception areas.

If you would like to talk to our team about refreshing your office reception area, or any other area of your workspace please contact us on 01344 290290 or email

2017-08-08T12:05:44+00:00July 21st, 2016|