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Start by thinking about what you want your reception area to say about your business. ‘Having our own office means we’ve been able to stamp our identity throughout, rather than feeling like we’re “camping out” in a shared office,’ says Hiber’s Toby Hough. Think beyond your logo and brand colours to your core values. How can you bring them to life in the first few seconds you have in front your visitors? ‘Identity and culture are closely linked,’ says Hough. ‘Peldon Rose subtly wove our brand colours into the office through the lampshades and kitchen units, but they really demonstrated our culture through things like funky kitchen tiles and trendy meeting room walls, which reveal much more about our personality.’ Show off your products or any awards you’ve won and choose the reading material you offer to reflect your beliefs or show you’re abreast of industry issues. Think about secondary uses for the space that could also embody your culture – hot desks, a coffee shop or a gallery space each say something different about who you are as a business.
Natural light is a really important factor in wellbeing – both for your front of house staff and your visitors. ‘The light is one of the best things about our new space,’ says Hough. ‘Peldon Rose did a great job of designing the space around the existing natural light.’ You can use the design of the space to maximise wellbeing in other ways too – get the temperature right, bring in vibrant artwork and real plants, and think about what else your reception team might need so you can factor in space for personal items, computers, printers and perhaps an elevated desk front to conceal confidential information.
Make sure first-time visitors intuitively know where to go by positioning your reception within sight of the entrance. Watch people move through the space when it’s busy and clear common routes so people don’t have to weave their way in and out of furniture and other obstacles – and make generous allowances for people of all sizes and mobility levels. Including signage for lifts, stairs, bathrooms and exits means that people won’t have to ask, which will make life easier for your visitors and your front of house team. Include plenty of storage space for deliveries to keep them out of the way – and make sure flooring is anti-slip if people will be coming straight in off the street in wet weather.
The more comfortable people feel, the shorter any time they spend waiting will seem, so provide plenty of seats and make sure they feel good to sit in for longer than a few moments. Domestic and even vintage furniture and accessories can create a cosy vibe, but use tight-weave fabrics so they’re easy to keep clean. Think about how you can go the extra mile to make your guests feel at home – from a cloakroom and somewhere to freshen up, to soft drinks, light snacks and provision for them to charge their phones or check their emails. Little touches can really help people feel more positive about the meeting ahead – make a good first impression and the rest is easy.
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