Reception desks buying guide

reception desks
A gorgeous reception desk can make all the difference to your business – first impressions count!



First impressions count

Questions to ask yourself

Ergonomics of reception desks

Types of reception desks

Other considerations

Top tips for reception design

Further information


Your reception area is so much more than just a place for your guests to wait. It’s the first impression of your company, the face of your brand and a room which is so often overlooked in the redesign process. The design of your reception area requires careful planning, keeping your profile and brand in mind,

The reception desk itself should be the focal point of this space, drawing the visitor in and inviting them to talk to your receptionist. Ideally it will be placed opposite the entrance to the building, so that it is the first thing people see when they walk in. It should be clean, inviting, and reflective of your brand identity too.

Choosing a great reception desk is not as straightforward as just picking the cheapest one that fits into the space. Indeed, your business will have to live with this investment for many years to come, so it’s important to think through your choices effectively from the outset. Do you want a large desk or a small one? U shaped or round? Illuminated or plain? There are so many choices out there that it’s easy to become overwhelmed very quickly.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to buying your reception desk, because the choice that is right for your business is a very unique and personal one. Our buying guide is designed to help you think about the right questions in order to narrow down your choice, and to help you understand what is available for you to choose from. We’ll talk you thorough the pros and cons of different materials and layouts, and will help you get to grips with the key decisions you’re going to need to make in order to select your perfect desk.

If, after reading our guide, you still aren’t sure what you need, we’re here to help. Our expert design team can talk to you about your needs, and can help you design an ideal solution that fits perfectly with your space and your brand identity. Using computer aided design (CAD), we can replicate your reception area and can show you just how your potential desk is going to look in situ.

Take a look through our reception desk buying guide today, and start thinking about what will really benefit your business.

First impressions count

How important is the design and style of your reception area to you? What is its function? Is it a place for people to wait for appointments, a place where the administration and phone answering gets done or a place where important guests are received? However you use your reception area, it’s important to give it the weight it deserves in terms of importance, because first impressions really do count.

The design of your reception area may well be the first personal contact people have with your business and brand. From suppliers to customers, important visitors to potential investors, this is your opportunity to set the tone for the rest of their experience. And, of course, your most valuable asset – your people – will be experiencing the reception area on a daily basis, and actually it’s really important to have them buy into your visions for the company too.

The function of your reception area

Of course, there is work to be done in the reception area, but that’s not the only function this small but important space serves. Here are some of the other roles your reception area can play, which you should take into consideration when redesigning or refurbishing this space.

  • It’s an instant indicator of your business’s culture

In a meeting room, conference suite or office, the focus of the interactions between your business and your visitors are the people they are dealing with, not so much the room they are in. However, in the reception area, your visitors may find themselves with time on their hands, sometimes just a few minutes, other times a lot longer. During this time they’ll be inclined to be more aware of the room they are in, the design, flow, layout and style.

A modern reception area which has been designed to reflect your company’s culture and tone will provide a useful introduction to your business, and will set the bar for your guests before they’ve even spoken to anyone. Your values can be reflected in this room, whether they are creativity and innovation, agility and momentum or something more traditional and elegant. Thinking through your choice of reception desk and other items will help you create a room to be proud of.

  • It introduces your brand

Just as a face represents a person, a reception represents your brand, and that means it’s important to steer away from the generic. As much as a basic reception that looks just like all the others will be simple and affordable to create, it really is a missed opportunity in terms of reinforcing your brand identity.

Branding comes in many forms, and it’s not always necessary to spend a lot of time and money on creating a giant replica of your logo or branding the floor in mosaic tiles. Sometimes just a wall tastefully painted in the corporate colour or a choice of furniture which fits in with your brand is enough to give the impression of a well branded space.

  • It’s another working space

If you design your reception area right, it can act as a new, useful working space away from the bustle of your back-room office. Informal meetings, one to one appraisals and team chats can all take place in this comfortable, versatile space from time to time. With office floor space at a premium, it makes sense to prepare your reception area to be a working space, otherwise it’s just dead space a lot of the time.

To make it work for you, ensure there is a work surface suitable for a laptop computer, such as a corner desk or fold out chair arm desk. Include high backed chairs or wall hangings to dampen the sound of chatter, and make sure your seating is both comfortable and capable of accommodating enough people. Providing WIFI in the reception area will be useful to both your staff and your visitors, although you might want to ensure it’s a separate, secure connection to avoid visitors inadvertently introducing viruses to your network.

  • It’s a tool for motivation and retention

Walking into a bright, attractive, thoughtfully designed reception area makes all the difference to how your staff feel about your company. It sets up their mindset for the day, and has been shown to improve loyalty and staff retention. It reminds every member of staff that they are part of something greater, and can help provide a healthy dose of motivation at the start of their working day.

The design of your reception area doesn’t need to be over the top to leave a lasting impression. Modest, elegant design touches, nods to the company branding and even simply providing a comfortable, secure space is enough to make the right impression on your visitor. Remember, however, that this room is not the end of the journey. The same hospitality and attention to detail needs to extend inward into the rest of your workspace too.

Questions to ask yourself

Before you dive in and start looking at your reception desks, it’s important to understand what your wish list consists of. By actively considering the finer details of your perfect reception desk, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision and to readily identify products that meet, or don’t, your bespoke criteria.

How much space is there?

The most crucial element of any reception desk purchase is to make sure it fits! You’d think this was obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people buy based on appearance alone, without taking into account how the furniture is actually going to fit into the space they have available.

Reception desks are large purchases, both in size and in terms of your investment, so it’s important to make sure what you’re buying is right for the space. The best place to start with this is to measure the space you have available and how much of it you will allow the desk to take up. It can sometimes help to have to hand a basic sketch of your reception area, and to create small templates of potential reception desks to visualise how they are going to fill the space.

What is my business all about?

Because the first impression of your business is usually formed in the reception area itself, your choice of reception desk is one of the most important places you can uphold your brand image and reinforce the nature of your business. This can be achieved not only through colours and brand identity, but also through your choice of materials and overall style of the desk.

For instance, a cutting edge graphic design firm will want something very modern, design focussed and creative. A hotel might prefer something more traditional, solid and robust. And a school will probably be more focussed on function than form, and looking for a budget conscious, workable solution. Taking into consideration right from the start what you want to say about your business in the reception area is crucial, as this will help you narrow down the options.

What will I use this desk for?

Just as different businesses have different ideas of the image they want to portray in their reception area, so they will have different priorities for the functions the desk is going to perform too. If the people using the reception desk are mainly administrators who occasionally need to welcome guests arriving for meetings, for instance, they will mainly need a desk that suits their activities without too much concern for the visitor’s comfort and convenience.

Conversely, if you run a business where the receptionist is involved in sales and money handling, you’ll need a reception desk which offers a suitable shelf for customers to sign cheques and exchange money over, as well as one which fits your reception staff’s needs. Consider if you’ll need adequate space to store files and documents, or whether it’s mainly just somewhere for your reception staff to sit and answer the phone. Knowing what functions you need the desk to perform will help you ensure you make a good purchase decision.

Who will work here?

Many receptions have just one person working in that area, but others may have two or even three members of staff performing reception functions. Consider who’s going to be using that space to ensure your choice can accommodate them comfortably.

Think also about each person’s individual needs in terms of seating, storage and IT equipment. They’ll each need a functional, ergonomic space which is generous enough to accommodate all their required equipment, still leaving them adequate working space.

Will standard suffice, or do I need a bespoke design?

Many businesses can choose an ‘off the shelf’ products and that will suit them just fine. However, some companies are stuck with unusual spaces for their reception area, or have particular requirements which are not an option with standard desks. In this case, you can opt to have a bespoke desk created just for you.

Here at Office Furniture Online, we have our own in-house design team who can help you design your reception area from scratch. Using computer aided design (CAD), our designers can plan out and propose solutions for all your reception needs. Once you’ve decided on a design, we can recommend products or even have a bespoke item manufactured for you, so that you can invest in the perfect desk for your business.

What do I want to spend?

Your budget is your business, and no matter whether you have a lot or a little to invest, there are reception desk models to suit. Be wary of buying reception desks that are significantly cheaper than other models, as they will often be lower quality and not designed to last.

Stick to UK manufactured models if you can, or European / US based products at least. These are constructed with more care and to higher specifications than many products from elsewhere, and come with decent manufacturers guarantees so that you know your money is well invested.

Spend as much as you can on your reception desk, because it is the face of your business. Your investment will pay dividends in loyalty and brand recognition over the years. Office Furniture Online have sourced numerous great value reception desks which we believe strike a perfect balance between value for money and quality, so check out our range to see what’s within the reach of your budget.

Ergonomics of reception desks

You may already have heard some things about ergonomics, and will almost certainly come across this terminology when you begin your search for a reception desk. But do your really understand what it means, and how it applies to you in the workplace? Here’s what you need to know.

 What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics at work refers to the science of designing work tasks to fit the worker in question. It keeps in mind the limitations of the human body, and is designed to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). MSD’s are the single largest category of workplace injuries, and are responsible for around 41 per cent of work related injuries in the UK.

Ergonomic improvement at work seeks to find and remove anything which is having a negative impact on work capacity, and to limit workers fatigue and injury whilst also improving productivity, efficiency and concentration spans.

The benefits of ergonomics at work

Providing your employees with an ergonomic workstation is not just about their personal comfort levels. In fact, there are many solid business reasons to invest in safer, healthier reception desks for your staff working in that area. Here are a few proven benefits which are not just about sitting more comfortably:

  1. Reduced risk and cost: A more ergonomic workstation will reduce the chance of you developing an MSD further down the line. An estimated 8.8 million working days are lost each year in the UK as a result of MSD’s, an average of 16 days per person suffering. MSD’s account for a third of all sickness related lost working days, so if your boss wants you at your desk, providing a constructive input to the profitability of the business, they had better ensure you are sitting comfortably.
  2. Improvements in productivity: Good, ergonomic improvements will ultimately improve your productivity as a worker. A well-designed workstation will reduce exertion, promote good posture, and enable you to be a more effective member of the team. You’ll feel more focussed, more alert and better able to concentrate when you don’t have the distractions of a nagging back or aching neck niggling away at you.
  3. Improved employee engagement: Employees notice when their workplace is motivated to invest in their health and safety, and are more encouraged to do their best, to stay loyal and not to look for another job. If an employee experiences discomfort during their working day, it can increase absenteeism, reduce morale and make them less able to do their very best work.
  4. A more safety focussed culture: Ergonomic assessments and the willingness to invest in better workstations for staff prove your company’s commitment to a safe, healthy working environment. By committing workplace safety to the heart of the culture, workers will foster a similar attitude to health and safety overall, ultimately resulting in a happier, safer and more motivated workforce.

There are many other benefits of ergonomics, but these are certainly a good place to start.

The responsibility of an employer

There are several pieces of legislation relating to MSD’s which ergonomics can help your workplace remain compliant with. The main responsibility of any employer is to protect the health and safety of their workforce, as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. However, there are some other pieces of legislation that it’s worth getting to know, which can also be complied with through improvements in ergonomics, for example:

You don’t need to know any of these regulations inside out, as a huge amount of compliance is based on common sense. However, if you are in any doubt over whether your business should be investing in good, comfortable, ergonomic furniture for your use, then these types of legislation are there to guide your decision making.

Creating a more ergonomic reception desk

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to creating an ergonomic desk, and that’s because there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The point of ergonomics is to recognise that we are all built differently, and therefore have different requirements when it comes to the size, shape and design of our workstation. However, there are some simple rules of thumb which will help you create a more ergonomic working position:

  • Your seat: Your desk should be at elbow height, and your hips should be at an angle of more than ninety degrees, i.e. your thighs should slope downwards slightly. Your feet should be flat on the floor; if this is not possible once you’ve adjusted your seat height correctly, you should use a footrest.
  • Backrest: Your backrest’s lumbar support should be in the curve of your lower back. If this is not achievable, you should use a lumbar roll to offer additional support. Adjust the angle by leaning back until it is comfortable, but avoid leaning back too much as this encourages slouching.
  • Armrest: If you use an armrest, they should not be so high that they push up your shoulders. They should not stop you from getting close enough to your desk to achieve the optimum angle for your elbow.
  • Layout: You should not have to stretch and lean at your workstation, so chose a layout that allows you to reach everything you need with ease. Your primary reach area is the area you can comfortably reach without stretching, so put your most frequently used items in this region.
  • Screen: Your screen should be directly in front of you, with the top of the screen at eye level. Use a monitor riser if necessary, and ensure the screen is at least an arm’s length away from you.
  • Mouse and keyboard: These should be in your primary reach area, and you should be comfortably able to reach the mouse with your elbows still bent. If you find your hands tilting upwards for the keyboard, you could consider using a wrist rest to make your typing position more comfortable.
  • Phone: If you use the phone a lot, ask for a headset. Cradling the phone between ear and shoulder is not a suitable solution.

If you work at a computer, there’s a useful checklist available from HSE which helps with a risk assessment of your workstation. For other environments, such as non-PC based design, technical drawing and the like, there is plenty of guidance on the HSE website which can help you risk assess your working environment to ensure you are safe and healthy.

Types of reception desks

As you’ll see from our own huge range of reception desks, there are many types and designs to choose from. The choice that suits you will depend on your answers to the previous questions, and should take into account the ergonomic comfort for your reception area staff. Here are some of the main types of reception desks, and the pros and cons of each.


Modular reception counters can be made from a variety of materials, and can be bought in sections to give you more flexibility on the final design. You can arrange the units in a variety of configurations, creating a U shape, L shape, square or even curved shape. You can often add shelves, storage, pigeon holes and more, to create a unique design that is perfect for your business.

The main benefit of these desks is the flexibility they offer. From the ground up, you can design your ideal desk, choosing colours, materials, styles and shapes that perfectly fit your reception space and brand identity the best.


Well-designed compact reception desks are a great way to get the job done when you’ve got limited space to play with. Most models come with built in storage to ensure all the clutter is kept out of sight, whilst still providing useful work surfaces and places for your customers to interact with the receptionist.

On the downside, these small reception desks are limited in terms of available space, but if you’re working with a very small floor area, they are ideal for not over furnishing your reception space. You still have plenty of choice of materials and finishes, so can still keep them in line with your corporate branding, just on a smaller scale.


If you’re in the market for something a bit different, then a curved, waved or round reception desk might be just what you need. These interesting looking desks add a touch of elegance to any reception area, and can look very contemporary and stylish once in place.

The main advantage of these gorgeously modern desks is their aesthetic appearance. If you’re looking to create a reception area that portrays a fun, design led business, the inclusion of a curved reception desk is a great place to start. However, they are less space efficient than straight edged models, so it’s important not to over face your reception room and to ensure you have adequate floor space available.


An L shaped reception desk can offer more space than a straightforward rectangular one. As the name suggests, these are shaped like a capital L, with a customer facing long desk with either a left or right-handed return added. The return can be the same size as the main desk, or can be shorter in some cases.

The benefit of these desks is that they provide the same customer facing area as any other desk, but with additional work space for the receptionist. This can be particularly useful if your reception staff have a lot of files or equipment that they need readily to hand, and larger models can even accommodate up to two staff. On the downside, these generally take up more space in the room than a straightforward rectangular desk.


A U-shaped reception desk takes the design of the L-shaped desk and adds one more return on the other side. This means there are three work surfaces, ideal for multi person reception counters or businesses which need more storage and working space in this area. They allow maximum privacy, because the receptionist is contained on three sides, and can be arranged with either the middle or one side of the U facing the incoming traffic.

On the upside, these are highly versatile, generously proportioned solutions that fit neatly into a relatively small footprint. In wood and laminate materials they can look very traditional and luxurious, or you can create one in gloss or with metal and glass features which looks very modern and stylish. On the downside, these tend to be more expensive than smaller models, and if you are buying a solid U-shaped desk, getting them into the building can be something of an issue.


The minimalist reception desk style is a great choice for any modern business that is more concerned with aesthetics than huge functionality. Featuring less storage and more style than other designs, these desks are ideal for situations where the receptionist’s main duties are answering the phone and greeting visitors.

Available in curved, straight and L shaped configurations, these lightweight, design focussed reception desks add a touch of class to any reception area. On the downside, there is little possibility to hide ugly wires, paperwork and files out of sight, so it’s important to be minimalist in your workspace arrangement too.

Other considerations

As well as choosing the type of reception desk you need, there are a number of other features and functions you’ll need to choose from or think about in order to come to the right decision. Here’s what you should be considering:


Receptionists have to deal with a lot of paperwork. They also often need access to lots of forms, promotional material and other bits and pieces. This means you’re going to have to think about the storage you need in your reception desk before deciding on the right product for you. Most reception desks offer the choice of two storage solutions:

  • Standalone: This is usually storage underneath the reception desk itself, which is not physically attached to the desk. This can be a more flexible solution, offering you an array of possibilities for customisation and including the things you really need. However, it’s important to identify complementary products before purchasing the desk, so you can ensure that there is actually a drawer unit / shelving unit / filing cabinet available which will slot into the available space.
  • Built in: Many reception desks come with built in storage, giving you a wide range of configurations to suit your needs. This can sometimes make better use of the space you have available, creating a more permanent solution and often a cost saving too. However, it can sometimes mean you’re stuck with the wrong type of storage for your needs.

If you decide to go down the standalone route, you can select from static or mobile units. Many reception desks come with their own standalone furniture which either sits directly on the floor or is on castors so it can be moved around. Mobile furniture can be useful in terms of flexibility and convenience, but remember that you lose around 6 inches of storage space by having the wheels underneath the unit.


Reception desks come in a wide variety of finishes and materials, each of which will have an impact on productivity, longevity and the way the desk looks in your space. Bear in mind that you’re selecting furniture for what is essentially a very high traffic area, so as much as you’d like to choose something based on looks alone, you’ll also need to consider how it’s going to wear over time.

  • Laminate: Modern laminate looks almost as good as real wood, and is highly durable and affordable. It’s more scratch resistant than real wood but still looks good, and is one of the most popular choices for reception furniture today.
  • Real wood: Real wood is the luxurious choice. Often the most expensive models, real wood reception desks are very beautiful, but are also very heavy and require a great deal of maintenance.
  • Glass: Few reception desks are made entirely of glass, mainly due to the amount of paperwork and equipment the receptionist needs which looks better when hidden away, not to mention the fragile nature of glass itself. Elements of a reception desk are often glass, such as glass tops for wooden desks or glass shelves. Any glass used in the reception area should be toughened for safety.
  • Metal: Stainless steel is a popular choice in reception areas, and although rarely used as the material for the entire desk, looks very modern and cool when used as an accent feature. Keep in mind, stainless steel features in your reception area could be vulnerable to denting, and dents are pretty hard to repair or conceal.

Some reception desks also offer different materials on the top than on the rest of the furniture. This can be a good way to add a touch of luxury to your choice, and as this is the area your guests see most often, it’s a good place to add quality.

  • Wood veneer or laminate tops look elegant and provide a durable surface
  • Glass countertops are highly durable, and give a classy, airy look
  • Stone, marble or granite tops are both elegant and imposing

Choosing well when it comes to the materials can go a long way towards making your place look stylish and ensuring you achieve the longevity that your investment deserves.

Styles and finishes

There are a multitude of options available when it comes to the style and finish of your reception desk. Much of this comes down to personal taste, but it definitely warrants a good deal of careful consideration, as you’ll have to live with your decision for some time to come.


Colours in your reception area can set the tone for your business. Are you serious, grave and well represented by greys and blacks, or are you young and fun, characterised with yellows and oranges? Maybe your colour choice will be dictated by your company logo and brand, but if not, it helps to understand a little about the psychology behind different colour choices:

  • Green: Green is known to spark creativity in people. It’s linked with broad thinking and trust. Natural greens are associated with nature, rebirth and the environment, whereas bolder, lime greens inspire productivity.
  • Red: Red is known to reduce analytical thinking, eliciting more forceful, spur of the moment actions. It’s been shown that it makes pupils perform worse in tests, and to encourage people to act before they think. Maybe not the best choice for your reception area.
  • Blue: Blue is a great colour for the workplace, bringing out satisfaction, harmony and producing a calming effect. In its lighter shades, it is associated with the ocean, the sky and happiness, but steer clear of dark blues as they can often evoke sadness.
  • Yellow / orange: It’s widely agreed that yellows and oranges stimulate and energise people. Yellow, in particular, can feel welcoming, whereas orange generates enthusiasm, so these are both good choices for funky, upbeat reception areas. Try to limit them to accents only though, as they can become a bit overwhelming if used over large areas.
  • Purple: Purple colours are linked with royalty, wealth and wisdom. They are a popular choice with law firms, financial advisors and investment companies. They can soothe or calm an onlooker, whilst simultaneously giving the company the appearance of luxury and success.
  • Neutrals: Browns, creams, whites and greys might not seem like the most inspirational colours, but can add a certain gravity to your reception area, and can help tone down accent colours beautifully. They are also good at calming and de-stressing people, so if you work in a place where people are likely to be wound up when they come in, such as a dentists or employment agency, they could be a good choice for helping your visitors relax.

Although this assessment of colour psychology plays out accurately in the main, colours can sometimes evoke different emotional responses in different people. People from other cultures, for instance, may have different thoughts and associations than people from our own. People’s past experiences can affect their perception of colours too, but for the main, the colour choices we’ve discussed here are frequently accurate.


Repletion desks can really come to life when you add the element of illumination. After all, the purpose of your reception desk is to draw the visitor’s attention and welcome them to your business. What better way to do that than with lighting?

Modern LED lighting can be used with interesting designs to give the impression your desk is floating in mid-air. Other illumination schemes can draw the eye to certain points, or can reinforce your design ethos by accenting the colours of your logo or company brand. Using lighting in combination with high gloss or metal finishes adds depth and interest, and can give you a clean, modern finish to your reception area.

If you can’t choose a colour for your desk, or are looking for a more flexible solution, our Horizons reception desk is available with a controllable backlight, offering an unlimited choice of colours and hues. With a simple remote control, your desk can cycle through every colour under the sun for an exciting, striking effect.

If you’ve decided to choose an illuminated reception desk for your business, make sure the light is provided via low energy LED bulbs. These last for many years, eliminating the hassle of replacing failed bulbs. They use very little energy and produce no heat, so your reception area is safer and more environmentally friendly.

Complementary items

A gorgeous reception desk will always look its best if you can obtain other complementary products. Having a receptionist’s chair that colour matches your desk will make everything look more coordinated, and selecting other reception furniture to blend in with the styles and colours will bring the whole room together for a more professional look.

From functional to funky, Office Furniture Online offers a whole range of other products to help you create the ideal reception area. Our reception seating comes in a whole range of colours and styles, and we’ve got everything else you need too, from coat stands to reception tables and more.

Browse our full reception furniture range on our website, or get in touch with our team to discuss creating a scheme that perfectly reflects your brand.

Top tips for reception design

Creating an impressive and functional reception area is about more than just a great reception desk. Here’s how you can make a lasting impression on your potential clients and visitors, and show of how good you are to them too.

  • Use natural lighting: If possible, introduce as much natural light into the room as you can. If you have a large window, make sure it is kept free from clutter and furniture to allow as much light in as possible. Put together a cleaning rota or employ a professional window cleaner to attend to it regularly, keeping dirt and grime away and allowing the light to flood in.
  • Offer freebies: Little touches such as branded pens to take away or company branded sweets will help people remember who you are long after they’ve left the building. As a bare minimum, place business cards on tables, on your reception desk and in strategic positions to ensure everyone leaves with your contact information to hand.
  • Add plants: Big, interesting plants are a great way of adding natural beauty to your waiting area. Real plants are better than fake, as they help to oxygenate the atmosphere, making it less stuffy. Keeping them in good condition demonstrates how you are able to care for things too.
  • Add artwork: Choose from art that represents your business, such as images of products, people or designs you are proud of, or art just for art’s sake. Beautiful images will add a sense of calm to the area, and will demonstrate your creative ability and intelligence.
  • Include interesting, relevant items: Nobody said your reception had to be boring, so don’t be afraid to add interest with exciting, relevant items around the place. Antiques, collectibles, figurines and other knick-knacks are not just for homes; if they help you set the scene for your business, they’ll look great in your reception area too!
  • Pick durable furniture: For your seating, tables and other furnishings, choose materials that are known to be hard wearing and easy to keep clean. This is a high traffic area, so anything that will scuff or mark easily does not belong in this room. Leather is a safe option, despite it being the costliest choice, as it looks amazing whilst also being easy to clean. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to leather, a vinyl or leatherette is a good second choice.
  • Include enough furniture: Think about how many people are likely to be in your reception area at any one time, and make sure there is comfortably enough furniture to accommodate them. Choose chairs that are comfortable and in keeping with your brand identity, and add tables for convenient placement of laptops, drinks and other materials.
  • Think about the floor: As this is a high traffic area, it could quickly become grimy and unattractive if you can’t stay on top of the floor cleaning. Many companies choose not to carpet their reception areas for exactly this reason, so think about laying laminate flooring or even going for gorgeous granite or marble tiles. You’ll need to include a welcome mat by the door so that people can clean and dry their feet on the way in, otherwise they could end up slipping over.
  • Provide refreshments: Simple refreshments such as a water cooler and tea or coffee machine will help people to make themselves at home and feel comfortable in your reception. Try to make these self-service, as your receptionist will not thank you for adding to their workload.
  • Provide WIFI: Display your WIFI information in the reception area to allow your visitors to get connected as soon as they get there. Not only will this give them the opportunity to catch up with their emails while they’re waiting, it will also mean they’re ready to go when they do arrive in your meeting room. Include some power outlets so they can get charged up too.
  • Create drama with lighting: Well-placed spotlights can highlight your company logo and add a sophisticated look to your premises. If there is inadequate natural light, make sure you’ve thought through the alternatives. Fluorescent tubes are somewhat out of fashion these days, and some well-placed LED spotlights or downlighters will add interest and look much more contemporary.
  • Add relevant literature: Nobody wants a manky old copy of Vogue from 1999, so instead choose some relevant industry literature to offer as reading material. You could include company reports, product brochures and leaflets, as well as industry journals and magazines. Check your stock regularly, and throw out anything which is getting too old or tatty.
  • Show off your achievements: If you’ve received any awards, don’t keep them to yourself. Get them framed and on display in your reception area. Similarly, if you have press coverage of your business, certifications or other reasons to be proud, dig them out and make them into attractive features for people to peruse while they’re waiting for you.
  • Be disabled friendly: By law, you should have access for disabled visitors if you are customer facing. See if a disabled guest could easily access the building, and whether they would be able to comfortably talk to your receptionist. It can be a good idea to include a low return on one side of the desk, or a dropped area at the front, so that wheelchair users can approach the desk just like everyone else.
  • Don’t forget the regulatory info: Things like fire exit signs are compulsory, so don’t forget them.

One of the key considerations when designing your reception area is to ensure you are able to maintain everything you’ve put in there. The more knick-knacks in the room, the more dusting there is to do, and if you’ve put in any living plants, they’ll need to be watered and cared for day to day. Fish tanks look amazing, but are you prepared to keep it clean and free from green gunge?

While some of these tasks can fall to your receptionist, don’t be tempted to ask them to do everything. Receptionists are notoriously overloaded with work, so try and share the duties of maintaining reception fairly between members of the team. Make a list of all the jobs that need to be done, and allocate them to different people so that no individual feels over-burdened with the tasks.

Further information

At Office Furniture Online, we offer many beautiful reception desks in all shapes, sizes, configurations and colours. All our products are chosen for high durability, amazing ergonomic design and exceptional value for money. Browse our products yourself, or call us on 0844 248 7001 if you’d like to talk to an expert about your choices for reception desk purchasing.

Our in-house design team are ready to help also, using CAD to replicate your reception room and show you just how your chosen desk is going to look. Just send them your dimensions, and we’ll place your shortlist of desks in the virtual room to help you make your choice.

All our reception desks come with free delivery by professionals and free assembly on site. This means you don’t need to worry about building the desk yourself or getting it into the building, because that’s all taken care of by our team. We supply products from a range of well-known and highly respected office furniture manufacturers including Accolade, Sven, Elite, Bodum and Presence. Take a look at our range for yourself, and start imagining just how beautiful your reception area is going to be.

We have a full range of complementary accessories too, from receptionist chairs to reception seating, storage solutions, tables and more. If you would like more personalised assistance and advice, simply call us on 0844 248 7001 or email us at and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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Author: John