By Penketh Group Insights Team
23rd May 2018
You don’t need us to tell you how important first impressions are. Once you’ve gathered your initial opinions about somebody or something, they’re pretty hard to shake and the same applies to your office reception area. You can have the most cutting-edge workspace in town and the most innovative approach to modern working life but if you don’t hit the welcome space design nail on the head, you’re already losing valuable customers. Think of this space as the face of your business. It is the first and last thing people will see when visiting your workplace so it’s time you got up to speed with the essentials.
Make a reception with the right desk
It goes without saying that a reception desk is the main feature of most commercial entrance spaces. It provides a focal design feature, a place where visitors can immediately approach for information and a chance for you to make a statement about your brand. Body heights and eye lines are important features to consider, depending on the nature of your business. If lots of your visitors are children or people in wheelchairs for example, you might want to think about a reception desk that is sensitive to this.
As well as looking the part and representing your brand culture and business type visually, a reception desk needs to be both safe and functional for the user. More often than not, commercial reception desks are operated by one or two people which means it can’t often be left unattended. Make sure your reception desk area has apt facilities for those using it to ensure that the resources they’re going to need throughout the day are easily accessible, confidential data is always protected and the user is sitting comfortably.
Pedestals, shelving and cupboards are a great way to store paperwork and office supplies so they are neatly tidied away out of sight. Make sure there is plenty of stationary to hand in case visitors need to make any notes or fill in forms. Cable organisation is also a feature we would recommend incorporating into your office reception design to keep things looking smart and operating efficiently. When it comes to seating, make sure staff are comfortable with an ergonomic solution such as the popular Gesture Chair.
Be crafty with your branding
Your welcome space is often the first thing new customers or prospective clients will see, except for maybe your social media platforms, business cards or ad space in a magazine or on a website. You wouldn’t set up a social media channel, sign off an advert or print out a business card if it didn’t reflect the essence of your branding and speak volumes about who your company is so treat the design of your welcome area in exactly the same way.
By this we don’t mean plaster your logo all over every available surface or paint every wall in your company colours. Move with more modern times and convey your brand message conservatively through subtle style accents and design solutions. One of the most effectively ways to display a brand logo without being too brash about it for example is through digital signage. Onelan is a captive communication tool designed to promote a company’s brand identity and culture but also means you can soften the message by changing what is being communicated on the screen intermittently.
Make visitors feel right at home
Once you’ve got your branding and the commercial side of things in check, it’s time to start making your visitors feel like your welcome area is a home from home. Already this season we’re noticing a great deal of our customers swaying towards a softer, more domestic style of interior design which makes for a stylish and welcoming reception area. Incorporating things like soft seating, rugs, wall prints and coffee tables in the waiting area will not only play to current trends, it will also create a relaxed and comfortable environment for your visitors to be in.
As well as providing visitors with a comfortable and visually stimulating place to relax or work while they wait, there are also some amenities that are worth offering if you want to go that extra mile. Access to free WiFi, power sockets integrated into the furniture, filtered water, a hot drinks machine, refreshments and some industry-based magazines or literature are all added extras that have become expected in the modern workplace. Providing these will instantly put the visitor at ease and create a positive lasting impression of your company.
Take design tips from Mother Nature
Using natural elements in your interior design has had proven, positive impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. Many of us live stressful, urban lives in which time away from screens is scarce and time spent in fresh air is even less. Just last week VELUX released a video campaign revealing that as an ‘indoor generation’, we now spend 90% of our time inside. Using natural light where possible for example, and warm artificial light will automatically decrease stress levels within a space and have calming effects on your visitors.
Ways to incorporate biophilic elements into your welcome space design are becoming more and more diverse as the trend continues to build up momentum. Dotting some potted plants around the place is the most obvious way to bring a bit of the great outdoors indoors but be sure to do your homework first. Make sure the plants you choose are indoor plants, plants that require minimum upkeep and attention and plants which have the least risk of causing allergic reaction. Living walls are also a great way to make an interior style statement while still welcoming the benefits of biomimicry into your workspace.
Make wayfinding uncomplicated
Finally, it’s important to make sure your visitors can find their way around the office easily. Picking out the right type of reception desk for the space you’ve got will ensure that they know where to go upon entering the building and where to find the information they need. However, it’s essential that you also think beyond the welcome area itself in order to make the visitor experience as pleasant and efficient as possible. There’s nothing worse than turning up for a job interview or an important business meeting and starting off on the wrong foot by getting lost and flustered along the way so as the host, you should take the necessary measures to streamline this process.
Sign posting the various locations around the building is a welcome space essential but you can take this one step further by taking advantage of developments in digital signage. Not only is this a more modern and impressive approach to wayfinding, it also allows for more flexibility in the information being displayed. A clever use of flooring products is also a great way to direct traffic. Using coloured carpet tiles, for example, is an effective way of separating zones and designating workspaces which is particularly useful in an open plan setting.