The overarching “why” of cultivating creative work environments is simple: businesses need to leverage their most valuable resource, human capital. The question then becomes “how” do we maximize the potential, performance & productivity of our people with those work environments? In this blog, we take a look at why your reception area design & reception furniture should be a matter of serious contemplation and how to cultivate a space that creates positive first impressions.
“Why take the time to consider our office reception design?”
Ready or Not, an Impression Will Be Made.
From the perspective of workplace design and office furniture, the reception area has the greatest potential to influence people through purposeful design. Any person, left to their own devices in a new space, will form a perception based on their environmental awareness. The “where/when/how” of creating a first impression is up to chance, but “what” the message is and “why” it matters are controllable factors. The spatial and physical orientations, flow of people & branded design of any given space are all components to be leveraged in alignment with the message to be conveyed.
It’s an Opportunity to Put People in a Positive Frame of Mind.
The moment someone passes through your reception area is an opportunity for your business. And guess what? You can rarely present for it. The first and last touches with your brand can affirm the person’s decision about whether you’re a good fit. Here are a few good reasons to cultivate a reception area that puts people in a desired frame of mind:
Customers & Visitors
Your reception area design is a chance to communicate what people can expect going forward with your brand. There’s a psychological concept called “thin-slicing” that’s applicable to an individual’s experience with a business. It refers to people’s tendency to draw conclusions based on a short interaction. Thinking objectively, what do people experience in your reception area? Can your desired tone & values be synthesized from the environment? What does that lasting message say?
Employees & Prospective Staff
People deserve an office that they look forward to. Thinking beyond the first-time visitor, what does a routine occupant think when they walk in the door? In the struggle to attract and retain top talent, the experience of entering a space where said talent may spend a good chunk of their time should be a top consideration.
“How can my reception furniture really influence positive impressions?”
Brand People’s Experience of the Built Environment
Reception is generally near entryways, areas that experience the highest traffic. Designing visitors’ experience from the get-go is a carte blanche opportunity. The short version – strategically broadcast your values and mission to cultivate positive impressions of your brand. Here are a few ways to brand people’s impression of your business:
These are components of workspace that many people won’t consciously recognize. Here’s an awesome infographic with design elements to convey your brand messaging. To name a few: natural light to boost mood and feelings of reassurance, live plants to demonstrate your ability to provide care and maintenance, quality literature & refreshments to make sure people know you’re concerned about more than making sales.
Service & Culture
People want to feel taken care of. The “built environment” doesn’t encompass occupants of a space. However, interactions with your brand representatives certainly play a part in the perceptions formed. Smiling service ought to be obligatory, but it doesn’t stop there. Individuals notice the flow and behavior of those they don’t directly interact with. Branding customer experience depends on modeling expectations from a top-down perspective. It’s your brand. Set the cultural standards you’d want to observe.
This goes back to people’s tendency to draw conclusions about an experience after a short period. Showcase material might help potential customers see themselves working with you: accolades you’ve received, charitable causes you support, and success stories of past clients. Go beyond slapping a logo on everything and placing brochures – people likely know who you are and what you do if they’re at your office. They likely also know their other options. You believe your brand is a cut above the rest – so, show them why.
Strategically Design Your Reception Furniture
“The reception is where every office day begins. Make sure this key area appears effortlessly branded, welcomes visitors and sets the right expectations for their experience, and inspires your employees to be proud about where they work.”
– Jeff Popechan | President, Strong Project
Your reception furniture seating should be, first and foremost, durable, easily-cleaned & have a moisture barrier. In an area with such high traffic, both your employees and visitors will appreciate it. Comfortability comes next, and is not as straightforward as one might think. In another blog, we explored the concept of “temporality” in workspaces. This refers to the degree a space invites lingering. Visitors spending stints of alone time up front? Invest in seating that lets them get comfortable. People coming back after just a few moments? Invest in statement pieces to cultivate that lasting impression during those moments. Finally, include options for collaborative seating as well as individual. Creating a comfortable, accommodating atmosphere should be an overarching goal, and versatility will help.
Your reception desk is one of the most justifiable opportunities to invest in a statement piece. Reception desks are the most visible and frequently seen components of the workspace. So, find a desk aligned with your values to impart some “wow” factor. Position your reception desk for aesthetics, as well as to establish a barrier. Remember, you’re designing to influence behavior – you probably prefer for visitors to check in before barging the office. Finally, invest in a reception desk that meets ADA guidelines. This is simply a counter with wheelchair-accessible reception desk height and knee clearance. Setting up an ancillary counter as an alternate solution can easily clutter your floor plan.
Give power to the people! In today’s tech-heavy climate, access to power, wi-fi and/or integrated reception furniture are appreciated amenities. In a very open space, noise may become too distracting for occupants to be comfortable. Investing in taller furniture can greatly impact the atmosphere (modular partitions, high-back chairs, etc) by dampen traveling sounds. Furnish visitors with coat racks, a reading rack, a bike rack…this list could extend endlessly. However, many would be trends that will inevitably turn. Focusing on how people use the space will reveal the most effective balance.
Thanks for Reading!
Cultivating spaces that foster positive first impressions is never a cut-and-dry process. Each business deserves a unique workplace strategy. If you’re searching for solutions to broadcasting your mission & values through the built environment, then you’re in luck. We’ve put together a selection of reception furniture ideas so you can glean some contemporary inspiration for your own workspace. Ready to explore an investment in people’s perception of your brand?