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    Office Reception Design Principles

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      Office reception design ideas

      Whilst reception areas within offices differ dramatically, there are some office reception design ideas and principles that are consistent for most schemes.

      Design for the flow of people

      Typically there are 3 groups of people that will use an office reception or building reception area. Staff, visitors and suppliers/service visits. Office reception design often starts with analysis of the people using the space. Ideally Staff should have a straightforward entrance procedure, distinct from Visitors, to avoid congestion and make access simple.

      Visitors should have a clearly visible focal point to head for. Similarly service visits or deliveries should have a clear check-in point, but ideally separate from corporate visitors. The use of a sign-in book for each group helps to separate the two. Receptions occasionally suffer from congestion of parcels, and visitor items such as coats and small cases. Designing in provision for items to be placed out of sight helps to maintain the good first impression.

      Receptionist Control

      Security and Reception staff need to have visual control of the space, even when a travel route for staff doesn’t take them to the main Reception point.

      Control should also extend to Visitors once they have progressed to a waiting zone, so that the Receptionist and visitor can both maintain contact in the event of a prolonged waiting time.

      The office reception design principle is to ensure clear visibility for the receptionist. The flip side of this is clear way-finding for visitors.

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      Visible Directions

      Many receptions offer a great initial focal point, but then miss the directional control that a new visitor would like. Please consider how a new visitor or staff member is directed going through Reception. Many buildings don’t have the Lifts in plain view, for instance. Internal lobbies may not direct people, assuming that once in the building they’ll know where to go.

      Building Regulations Part M

      Part M, often referred to as the DDA legislation, are the regulations governing Access for All, in particular disabled visitors and staff. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ application of Part M…it all depends upon the building…but in principle any premises that is accessible to the public, or staff, should have a compliant access scheme.

      Consider how a disabled visitor will be signed-in, how they would gain access to the office interior and facilities.

      Many receptions are also the direct route out in the event of an evacuation. The architecture will be designed for escape. However security is often overlooked in the event of an evacuation. Our reception design process will bring questions like these into the conversations, at the appropriate time.


      Office receptions are a vital part of the first impression, along with the building exterior and company brand. Most companies design the Reception space to show their title and logo. They also reflect the standards within the business through visual cues such as the fit-out finishes, furniture, corporate publications, newspapers and TV news. Branding can be achieved overtly, logos and corporate colour schemes, and also through the quality of reception furniture, the materials used in the reception fit-out and the reception design language. In the image below the branding is achieved using a backlit reception desk to illuminate the company title which is milled into the inside face of the corian facade.

      It’s important to consider the upkeep of the initial investment in branding. Once you install a TV it should always be working, and on a channel that offers confirmation of your companies culture. Similarly newspapers should be current.

      The office reception design principle is to avoid designing anything into a reception scheme that won’t be kept up to date.

      Reception Furniture Design

      Reception furniture is designed with good reason. Soft seating is rarely soft….it should be firmer to assist people to get up quickly, and to avoid sagging through constant use. Comfort isn’t a requirement…but uncomfortable furniture still isn’t acceptable.

      Durability in office reception area design is very important. Typically a reception desk, storage and seating are specified to a high standard so that they don’t deteriorate rapidly. Careful design of corners that stand up to the hoover, surfaces that don’t chip or lift, and durable fabrics are all standard practicalities.

      Equally important is that everything is serviceable. Light fittings must be easy to access when the bulb fails. Corners can be easily knocked…design in a way that is either protected from traffic…or constructed to withstand a knock.

      Ergonomic Reception Desk Design

      Often a reception desk will also be someones workstation. The principles of ergonomic desk design can be applied to a reception desk, and indeed the ergonomics for the visitor as well. We factor-in the tried and tested layouts used in regular office furniture to ensure computer layout is considered. Reach distance for visitor badges is calculated. Reflection and temperature, all mandated under display screen regulations, are evaluated. In short we design desks that work for the receptionist as well as for the business.

      The image above shows aspects of a reception desk re-design. Lanyard storage was designed and built into each position in a 3-person receptionist desk. The desk was modelled using a test rig to make an adjustable set of surface heights, depths, and relationship to the reception counter. Receptionists used the test rig to evaluate the ergonomics before the desk was re-designed.

      Reception Joinery

      Joinery…a trade term to cover purpose made furniture. Joinery typically refers to construction that is only ever viewed from one angle, and isn’t designed to be changed or moved. Joinery is different to furniture in that a furniture piece is typically moveable, and finished on all sides (inside and out) whereas joinery will be ‘construction grade’ behind the surface.

      Regulations concerning reception desks and access for disabled visitors generally expect that a reception desk should include provision for visitors in wheelchairs where possible. In practice the architecture of a building determines the ease of access and feeds through into the reception area design.

      Frequently Asked Question About Office Reception Designs

      When a client or a potential client visits your office, making a great impression is essential for creating a positive experience. This is why your reception area should represent your business, creating a welcoming environment from the minute your visitors step through the door.

      There are many factors to consider when planning the design of your reception area, from functional aspects such as furniture and heating, to the more visual statements such as branding and colour schemes. Some of our top tips to make your clients feel comfortable include:

      • Company Branding
      • Accessible Reception Desk
      • Comfortable Seating and Furniture
      • Temperature
      • Lighting
      • Keep It Clean
      • Friendly Staff

      Your reception area isn’t just limited to clients and visitors. After all, it’s where your team begins their working day. It can contribute to further inspiring well being across your company by creating a natural daily boost to employee moods and ultimately, performance levels. After all, no one wants to start their day walking into a dark and unwelcoming reception area.

      Stand-up reception desk seating should be not more than 34 inches high. Every reception desk should have an extra space behind – required space should have a turning radius of more or less 60 inches. 

      This is where the team at Fusion Office Design comes in! Our team can help you design and fit the perfect reception area to leave a lasting impression on your clients. The reception areas in which we create, soft seating is rarely soft, it should be firmer to assist people to get up quickly.

      Durability is another important factor in an office reception area, typically a reception desk, storage and seating are specified to a high standard so that they don’t deteriorate rapidly. 

      For more information on how Fusion Office Design can help you create the perfect reception area, get in touch with our team today.