When a guest comes to your office, the first thing they encounter will not be you, but the reception space of your office. The entrance area will make the first impression on your client, partner or other guest – even before you have the opportunity! Your guest must encounter a comfortable yet professional space, and it is up to you to make the most of this underestimated but very important first impression.
Perfect your space
The elements of your reception area will not only speak for your company’s brand and character, but it can also set the tone for the visit. Pay close attention to both the overall elements and the little details.
- Colours: The colour of the walls and other spatial qualities can instantly set a mood. This interactive colour palette by Pantone matches mood to paint tone, anywhere from “calming” to “efficient” to “sophisticated” or “successful.” What mood do you want to project in your office? Whatever you choose, be sure not to set an “aggressive” colour tone to your office! Alternatively, you may choose to colour your space according to your brand guidelines. If this is your scheme, keep consistent with colours and design on all other branded material, such as business cards or promotional material.
- Furniture: It is essential to have at least two to three reception chairs that are both comfortable to sit in and which look professional. The receptionist’s desk and chair should also be of good quality.
- Décor: Create a refined atmosphere with more creative design elements, such as paintings or photographs, a mirror with a decorative frame, a vase with fresh flowers or a decorative hat stand. Don’t go over-the-top, however; unless you want to create a quirky or expressive office space, stay professional with minimal and tasteful pieces.
- Lighting: Unfortunately, few of us have control over the aggressive fluorescent lighting that comes installed in most office buildings. However, we can control the mood lighting, in spite of these overhead lights. Counter-balance flat, fluorescent light by placing low lights on and near the reception desk, creating a more welcoming and friendly mood.
Hire a great receptionist
Your receptionist will meet your guests before you do. So, you must hire someone whom you can trust to make a great first impression and to treat your guests with respect and care. Look for the following qualifications:
- Friendliness: A friendly face and a pleasant demeanor will set a positive tone to any visit.
- Proper attire: Out of anyone in your office, perhaps it is most important that your receptionist looks his or her best. As the first point of contact, they must dress up a notch even in a less formal setting. A receptionist in jeans and flip-flops, for example, will not set the right tone – even if you greet your guests in a suit.
- Professionalism: Along the same lines as proper attire, a good receptionist must behave with professional conduct at all times.
- Good hosting: Make sure there is a routine in place for the receptionist to host a guest properly upon arrival: take the guest’s coat and hat, offer the guest coffee or tea, and promptly retrieve the staff member who is expecting a visitor. If there will be a large group of guests for a long meeting or series of meetings, ensure that the receptionist will arrange for catering.
With these elements in place, you can make a great first impression on your guests – before you even meet them!
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