Reception Furniture – Successful Offices Make a Great First Impression

The style and layout of your reception furniture is one of the most important investments to be made when designing your office.  Since the reception area is the first thing your guests or clients will see, it will also form the basis for their first impression of your office – and, consequently, of you. In order to maximize the positive impact of your reception furniture, you need to keep three things in mind – your needs, your receptionist’s needs and the needs of your guests.

You
You are the one who, in the end, will be most influenced by the impression your reception furniture imparts, as it might win or lose you clients.  So think carefully about the kind of office you run and the atmosphere you want to create for your visitors.  Since most offices can be loosely defined as executive, medical or public service, keep the following points in mind:

*If yours is an executive office, try to create an atmosphere that exudes some importance without being pompous.  That means reception furniture that is at least semi-formal.  Choose wood chairs rather than metal, and delicate fabrics or quality leather (or a good look-alike) upholstery rather than simple vinyl.  Chairs with arms tend to be both more comfortable and more formal.  Accent pieces like coffee and end tables should echo the same theme. 

*If you are a medical professional, then don’t make the mistake of designing an antiseptic, “medicine-like” reception area.  Allow your guests the comfort of a pleasant, reassuring place to wait.  Look for reception chairs that are warm and inviting, and tables that are practical enough to see a lot of use.  Although you can hang medical pictures, be sure to add others that will offset the mood they can create.

*Public service offices tend to be limited in terms of budget, which is why many of them look the same.  Even so, make an effort to convey a personal atmosphere.  While metal and vinyl chairs are fine, try to choose colors that are interesting, not dreary.  Look for accent tables that have some unique design to them, and decorate your walls with pieces that you yourself would actually want to look at. 

Receptionist
Since your receptionist is going to be dealing with the everyday nitty-gritty details of your office, including all the people waiting to see you (and their gripes and complaints), make sure she has enough room to do everything that needs to get done.  Allow for privacy, as well, either by purchasing a reception desk with a transaction counter or with a raised hutch.  If the receptionist will be dealing with sensitive paperwork, then be sure to have a lock on at least one of the desk drawers.  This is especially important if your receptionist might be called away from the desk to take care of other duties.  Periodically, check with your receptionist to make sure that her accommodations are adequate and allow her to work both comfortably and efficiently.

Your Guests
Think carefully about the kind of guests you will be seeing and what their needs and expectations are.  If they are business clients, take care that they have a place to lay their briefcases, and that they have an appropriate surface to work on while they wait for you (including room for a cup of coffee).  While chairs around a table are fine, stay away from couches or sofas, as sharing personal space is not conducive to a business-like atmosphere. 

If you have medical patients, then again, make sure that your reception furniture is inviting and very comfortable, as waiting time in medical offices tends to be on the long side.  Combine seating solutions for two or three people with individual chairs, so that family members can sit together while strangers can remain in their private space, and provide your patients with a variety of quality reading material to help them pass the time.  A mini-bar with cold and hot water as well as cups will be greatly appreciated, as well. 

For public service offices, use your reception area as a way to convey to your visitors that they are not just a number waiting in line.  To that end, while individual chairs are appropriate, try to make the layout more than just a bunch of chairs in a straight row.  Buy as many end tables as you can, and place them between every few chairs.  Reading material that is not exclusively related to social services will be very welcomed, as will a mini-bar like that mentioned above.  

Finally, no matter what kind of office you have, if it is one that caters to both adults and children then it is worth your while to provide a “kiddie-corner” with small, bright chairs and tables as well as books and toys.  Aquariums are also great attractions for kids, as long as you don’t mind lots of little fingerprints.

Reception furniture is worth investing in. Your clients will enjoy visiting your office and they may very well end up doing more business with your company.    

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