Your office design reflects the very vision and personality of your company--and the lobby or waiting area is no exception. Every client, guest, and potential employee who walks through your office doors receives their first impression about your company immediately from the layout, texture, and flow of your reception area.

If you need to distribute your office design and furniture budget to upgrade one aspect of your commercial workspace, I usually recommend to people that they prioritize reception. Here are three reasons why.

It Instantly Communicates Your Company's Aesthetic and Culture

In other spaces of your workplace, such as conference rooms and even executive offices, the primary focus during interactions rests on the person or people in front of you...not the room itself. However, in reception, an individual may find themselves alone for a span of a couple of minutes to half an hour or more. During this time, the primary focus triangulates environmental awareness between the branded design, room layout, and "flow" (people walking back and forth without direct interaction). These controllable factors create the first impression.

An updated reception area that is carefully designed with company values and aesthetic in mind will help you set the tone for what visitors can expect from your company. Whether you value innovation and creativity, tradition and elegance, or agility and minimalism, the right modern reception area creates the lasting visual message.

It Improves Your Employee's Mindset

There is a palpable difference between walking into an office that is dark, cramped, unorganized, or cold and entering an office with smart or natural lighting, clear brand messaging, strategic organization and furniture designed for comfort.

The struggle to retain talent in your company is currently increasing as more companies offer varied benefits, packages and accommodations to recruit employees. Create a subtle daily welcome that boosts your employee's mood and mindset at the beginning of his or her work day by offering a reception area or lobby that inspires and reminds them they are part of something greater. This is the area in which to display beautiful artwork or curated portfolios designed by your own staff, crowdsourced quotes, company outing photos, mission and values. Bring corporate displays together through a cohesive internal brand campaign.

Remember: the reception area isn't just for outside stakeholders and visitors. It's the starting point of a visual brand promise and standard of hospitality that must extend inward to the rest of your commercial workspace.

You Can Enjoy A Longer Lifecycle From Your Design Budget

A general rule of thumb for great modern office design is to put the power of your budget behind the areas that receive the most foot traffic: your lobby or reception, and your employee workstations.

Invest in key pieces such as durable, sustainable flooring and a high-end reception desk that brings home the "wow!" factor instead of cluttering other spaces, such as your employee lounge, with game tables people will rarely use or tech that will go out of style.

With reception areas, less is more. Trends turn quickly. Stay future-forward and anticipate personal needs for those waiting in your lobby. Look for furniture that achieves multi-functionality and technology integration. And remember to use classic design pieces that appeal to different senses while communicating your brand without cluttering the floor space.

Specific design upgrades to consider:

  • Install one or two high-back lounge chairs upholstered in acoustic felt to dampen the chatter and reduce loud phone calls.
  • Provide corner tables that double as a computer table, so guests can use their laptops while waiting.
  • Invest in lounge seating and tables that have integrated power/USB modules that act as a charging station for guests instead of leaving them to search for available outlets under chairs or along walls.
  • You can ditch the corner television that competes with your overhead music and create two or three individual smaller "quiet viewing areas" with screens and headphones for people to watch company videos while they're waiting.
  • Place plants and water features in corners or between seating areas for a calming, healthy centerpiece that also offers semi-privacy.
  • Lighting should feel warm, natural, and adjust throughout the day with smart tech or timers.
  • On tables, your reading material can be upgraded to include branded in-house magazines, company portfolios or books that inspired your company values.

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.