Blog | How to Choose the Right Reception Desk for Your Business
People can form their first impression of your business within only seven seconds, and one of the first things they’ll see during this short blip of time is your reception desk. That makes selecting the right one an essential task. You want your reception desk to fit your brand image and be a highly functional piece of furniture, so you can serve guests with ease.
Whether you’re furnishing an office from scratch or upgrading a tired, old lobby, we’re here to help with our guide to buying a new reception desk. We’ll go over various considerations for buying a reception desk and include tips on how to choose reception furniture that fits your business’ design style. Armed with this knowledge, you can select the ideal accent pieces for your waiting room or lobby and make the right first impression.
Top Considerations for Choosing a Reception Desk
There are two primary things to consider when purchasing reception furniture: aesthetics and function. Selecting an office reception desk also involves accounting for your budgetary restrictions, but ideally, you want a desk that looks and works how you want it to.
Your reception desk is a focal point in your office and can be central to the first impression customers or clients form about your business. That means you want an attractive reception desk that represents your brand. A few aspects to consider when purchasing a reception desk include the following.
Material: Reception desks come in a variety of materials, including solid wood, laminate, fabric and metal. Wood and laminate desks with a stained wood finish tend to have a more traditional or organic appearance, while fabric panels, metal and solid-colored laminate may look more modern.
Shape and size: The shape and size of your reception desk also influence its overall look. An oversized desk may appear imposing, while one that is too small may be underwhelming. Reception desks also come in a variety of shapes. Most desks are rectangular, but you can also find fluid shapes with a more unusual and contemporary appearance.
Design details: Aside from the shape, size and materials that go into a reception desk, other design details affect the desk’s aesthetics. For example, a desk with architectural molding will appear more ornate, while one with clean lines and smooth surfaces will appear sleeker and more minimalist. You may also find desks with metal trim or floating glass transaction tops, which add visual interest.
You must make sure your reception desk is functional, both for receptionists and for clients. Various businesses use reception desks differently, so it’s crucial to consider how you need your reception desk to work. Think about the work receptionists need to do at the desk and how clients will interact with it. Here are a few functional aspects to consider.
Storage: On the receptionist’s side of the desk, there should be some form of storage space, such as shelves and drawers. These can allow the receptionist to store personal items, office supplies and files out of sight. Easy access at the reception desk is especially critical for some industries where receptionists need to pull a client’s or patient’s file at check-in. Ensure you choose a desk with the appropriate amount of storage.
Countertop space: The ideal reception desk should afford plenty of surface area for both receptionists and visitors. If you plan to display signage, advertisements or décor pieces on your reception desk, allow plenty of room for these items, with enough remaining space for interactions between guests and the receptionist.
Ergonomics: You should also consider how comfortable the desk will be for receptionists. A central part of this is the office chairs you purchase, but the desk itself can impact a person’s comfort. Consider how receptionists and guests will need to move around the desk, and ensure you pick one that offers the right height, shape and layout to accommodate that.
Choosing the Right Size Reception Desk
Reception desks come in a broad range of sizes to suit various businesses and different reception areas. The secret is to determine which makes the most sense for your office.
When it comes to height, that aspect of reception desks is relatively standard, so you don’t have to agonize over how tall a reception desk should be. The best reception desk height for most offices is a combination of two heights: one for interacting with standing customers and another for working while seated. The higher portion is typically a standard bar height, around 40 to 42 inches, and the lower is a standard desk height, about 28 to 30 inches.
Most reception desks also include a shorter desk level in the back for receptionists to work at while seated, though some may allow for standing. Many reception desks extend this lower height to the side of the bar-height surface to accommodate shorter guests or wheelchair users.
When it comes to size, length is the primary concern. How long do you want your reception desk to be? To determine this, walk through the following things to consider when purchasing a reception desk.
How many employees do you need to accommodate? First, consider how many employees need to fit comfortably at the desk at any given time. If you have one receptionist, you can get a smaller desk, but if you need to accommodate two employees, you’ll need to choose from two-person reception desks. These are handy even if you only plan to have one person assisting clients, but need a workspace for another employee at reception to retrieve files, fill out paperwork or perform other tasks.
How many guests will you serve at one time? If you need space to assist more than one person at a time, that is another reason to consider a longer reception desk. For instance, front desks in hotel lobbies tend to be roomy enough for clerks to assist multiple guests at once with checking in, checking out or other needs. In an office, you may only need enough room to interact with one guest at a time, or you may need space for one person to fill out paperwork while the receptionist assists someone else.
How much room do you have in your reception area? Another primary concern should be how much space you have to work with. If your reception area is small, a large desk will likely make the room feel too cramped. A small reception desk will fit better and may help the room feel larger. On the other hand, a spacious lobby or waiting area will dwarf a small desk. You may want to choose more substantial furniture for these spots, even if only for aesthetic reasons.
Do you need an adjustable desk? If you’re not sure what size reception desk you need or if you want to be able to change it to suit your needs, consider a modular option. Our Sunline reception stations allow you to quickly resize the desk anytime by adding or removing panels.
Choosing the Right Style Reception Desk
Once you’ve settled on the right size for your reception desk, you can turn your attention to style. The best reception desk style is the one that embodies your business’ brand and helps you make the right first impression with guests and clients. In a previous post, we discussed some common styles for reception areas and how to choose furniture that fits these motifs.
Let’s review these designs and how to choose the right reception desk to suit your goals. If you’re designing a reception area from scratch, understanding these different themes can help you decide how to select the one to fit your brand.
Minimalist design eliminates extraneous details in favor of clean lines and simplistic surfaces. Mid-century modern design tends to be minimalist, for example, as does contemporary design. The main difference between these two is that modern design emphasizes organic materials like wood, while contemporary design favors sleeker materials like metal and glass. White reception desks are also a popular choice for minimalistic waiting rooms.
Eclectic design combines a variety of contrasting furniture and décor pieces in a cohesive way. There should be some commonalities between elements that tie them together. For instance, pieces may be in different colors, but share the same rigid shape or curved lines. Pulled off correctly, eclectic reception areas can be fun and interesting to look at. With eclectic design, you can choose nearly any reception desk style, as long as it fits the rest of your furniture somehow.
A glamorous design style draws attention, even if subtly, to the opulence and status of a company. In addition to luxury brands, it can also work well for long-established companies that want to emphasize their heritage and permanence. Think ornate light fixtures, high-quality wood furniture, leather upholstery and high-end artwork. For this sort of reception area, you would likely want to choose a reception desk in a dark-stained wood with ornamental details.
An energetic design style may overlap with some of the styles above, especially minimalist and eclectic, but it most prominently emphasizes bright colors and clean lines. To avoid having a reception area that’s too busy, it’s typically best to choose some neutral colors, like white, for much of the furniture and add in pops of color in the form of an end table, a few chairs or — in some cases — your reception desk. This design style can make your company appear more energetic and fun.
Where to Place Your Reception Desks
Once you choose a reception desk that is the perfect size and style for your business, you have to decide where to put it. You may already have a prominent place in mind, or you may be at a loss. Either way, make sure you consider these three questions to help you choose the appropriate location for your desk.
Which direction do you need to face? Receptionists should face out toward customers or guests who come in. That means you should orient the front of your reception desk to face the door of your reception area. If your waiting area has multiple entrances, you may want to choose a desk that wraps around in a U-shape, rather than a rectangular desk, so one side faces every entry. Or, you may need more than one desk.
Where do you need to leave space for foot traffic? Once a person has checked in with the receptionist, where do they need to pass to proceed to the conference room, office or another area in your building? If a door separates other parts of your office, make sure you allow plenty of clearance for entering and exiting. If the rest of the office is open to the reception area, you may want to include space on both sides of the desk for foot traffic.
Where will the desk be most visible? You should also consider the sightlines as a person walks into your business. If they’ve never been there before, they will be looking for your reception desk. To accommodate guests and make them feel comfortable, your reception desk should be highly visible. If a person has to round a corner to get to reception, make sure you install signage to direct them. You may need a desk at the entrance and another in a waiting area if those are in separate locations.
Reception Desks That Make the Right Impression From Arnold’s Office Furniture
We hope this reception desk buyer’s guide has helped show you how to choose the best desk for your business. If you need some extra help considering your unique needs, however, our design team is ready. At Arnold’s Office Furniture, we carry a variety of reception desks in a range of sizes to suit any design style.
With close to a century of experience, Arnold’s is the partner you can trust with all your office furniture needs. Browse our website to check out our innovative Sunline sliding cubicles, sit-stand desks, reception desks and other pieces. If you have questions or need some help, give us a call at 866-370-5133. Or, you can request a free quote online. It’s time to start making a positive impression with a beautiful, functional reception desk from Arnold’s Office Furniture.
Rob has more than 25 years of experience in the office furniture business. He has used his extensive knowledge in his role as Senior Vice President to ensure our office furniture meets the needs of the modern corporate office environment and he regularly lends his expertise to various articles posted on the Arnold’s Office Furniture blog. Learn more about Rob!