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Exclusive: Optimising reception space

Author : Allyson Lupton, Furniture and Interiors expert, Office Depot

31 July 2013

Reception areas are now rarely used simply as waiting rooms. Thanks to modern technology and evolving work practices, these spaces are now seen as interactive, informal working and meeting rooms. It is essential to bare this in mind when planning the layout of a reception area.

There are numerous ways to optimise a reception area to create a space that is clutter-free, giving a professional first impression for visitors, while maximising the benefits of having a practical space that can be used for a number of activities.

Establishing clear boundaries is essential. By using clear layout design methods, open spaces can be produced, however where space may sometimes need to be enclosed, using removable partitioning can be the perfect option. Breakout areas can be created so that brainstorms and informal meetings can take place, for example, but when formal meetings may need a structured office environment this can also be facilitated. Throughout this flexible space, the business’s corporate branding and values (which should be incorporated into the layout of a reception space, as well as furniture choices) can play a major part in inspiring staff and visitors alike.

It can be tempting to choose big features and bright colours when personalising reception areas. However, it’s often good to keep the wall colour neutral and light, to give a feeling of an open and spacious area, and then personalise the space through relevant decoration, furniture and art work. For example, many receptions areas now offer comfortable seating such as sofas, and the design of these can often add character, using colour and style, creating interest in a neutral space.

Keep to a collective colour theme and style similar to that of the organisations corporate identity, which will set the tone of a reception area and create the right impression with employees and clients. Choosing a colour palette will help the furniture and other additions to the space remain consistent. Taking into consideration the culture of the business is essential, in order to portray the right image for both employees and clients. Different colours can create certain vibes, for example cream and beige give a feeling of sophistication, while blue often represents honesty and loyalty.

A simple way to optimise the space available is to ensure visible clutter is minimised, for example by adding a rack for coats and a stand for umbrellas, and using low shelving under the reception desk to house office equipment and other necessary items. This can also be an ideal place for secure storage cupboards to be concealed, providing a safe place for important files to be stored away in a busy reception area. Even the working reception area should remain tidy at all times to give the appearance of organisation and efficiency.
By choosing symmetry whenever possible, and reducing the amount of contrast in the furniture and storage pieces, a serene and spacious environment can be created. Mis-matched furniture not only creates an environment that looks tired, but can also give a negative first impression of a business. Investing in new reception furniture, which where possible, creates the illusion of clean lines and symmetry is essential. Therefore improving the professional appearance of the organisation and giving visitors an impression of order and efficiency.

Reception areas have the power to create a first impression, and set the tone for an entire organisation, not only clients and visitors, but also employees. The value of this space should therefore not be under-estimated, and should be used to its full potential. Whether the area available is large or small, it is still important to invest in creating a space that fits the culture of the business. By optimising space through design and layout, it can be used for many different activities and is no longer reserved for those simply waiting.

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