Reception area design – how to make an entrance

Tips for designing a welcoming office reception

Your office reception area determines the first impression your business makes on clients, suppliers and visitors. The design and layout therefore need to be planned carefully so that visitors get a positive first impression the minute they step through the door.

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, so it pays to ensure that your reception area sends out the right message by taking the time to thoroughly plan each detail of this important aspect of your office space.

Design for the flow of people

Typically, there are three groups of people that will use an office reception or building reception area – staff, visitors, suppliers – and ideally your office reception design should start with an analysis of the people who will be using the space.

Staff should have a straightforward entrance procedure, distinct from visitors, to avoid congestion and make access simple. Visitors require a clearly visible focal point to head for and similarly supplier visits or deliveries should have a clear check-in point, but ideally separate from corporate visitors.


Office receptions are a vital part of the first impression of a company, along with the building exterior and company brand. Most companies design their reception space to show their title and logo. Branding can be achieved overtly with logos and corporate colour schemes, and also through the quality of the reception furniture, the materials used in the reception fit-out and the reception desk design language.

Visible directions

Many receptions offer a great initial focal point, but then miss the directional control that a new visitor would like. It is important to consider how a new visitor or staff member is directed through the reception area. For example, many buildings don’t have lifts in plain view and often don’t have any signage telling you how to get there.

Reception furniture design

It’s important to consider the design of the reception furniture as uncomfortable furniture isn’t acceptable. Soft seating is rarely soft…it should be firmer to assist people to get up quickly, and to avoid sagging through constant use.

Durability in office reception area design is also very important. Typically, a reception desk and seating area are specified to a high standard so that they don’t deteriorate rapidly. Careful design of corners and 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 so design them 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 someone’s workstation. The principles of ergonomic desk design can be applied to a reception desk, and indeed the ergonomics for the visitor as well. When designing or specifying furniture we ensure that the computer layout is considered, and that the reach distance for visitor badges is calculated. As well as this we ensure that reflection and temperature, all required under display screen assessment (DSE) regulations are evaluated. In short we design desks that work for the receptionist as well as for the business.

Creating a successful reception area for your workplace is simple and effective. Officeworks analyses space and considers a company’s image to design the perfect welcome space for your valued guests. Contact one of our experienced office designers to discuss your project.