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Reception Seating for a Broad Audience

Steelcase Criterion Mid-Back Series Used Task Chair, Purple

Your reception area is the first impression visitors have of your office. Most offices use standard reception seating with a few comfortable chairs and tables. If your company has a broad audience, including people of many different ages, capabilities and needs, you’ll need to adjust your ideas about appropriate reception seating. The old comfortable chair model won’t fit for a broad audience and you should consider some creative ideas. These include changes to seating and providing amenities for visitors.

Everyday Series and Bay ChairsYour chairs should be a primary concern. You’ve probably made an effort to provide comfortable chairs for visitors or at least you think you have. What’s comfortable for one person may be very uncomfortable for someone else. Many people suffer from arthritis and other joint conditions that make it challenging for them to get up and down from low chairs. Typically, most reception chairs are low and aren’t adjustable.

Fortunately, you can offer a variety of types of chairs. There are tall chairs, almost like stools, with backs that can be covered in the same upholstery as your other reception chairs. Some reception areas place these chairs by counters so that the people sitting in them can use their computers or write like other people use tables. Higher chairs make it easier for people with joint problems to sit and stand with as little discomfort as possible.

You should also keep in mind the needs of people in wheelchairs. There should be areas in the reception area for people in wheelchairs to fit. They shouldn’t have to squeeze into odd-shaped or uncomfortable areas because there isn’t a designated space for them.

There’s always a chance that your visitors will have to wait. You should avoid delays as much as possible, but due to the nature of some businesses, emergencies may be inevitable. Sometimes, you are planning a group meeting and you have to wait on another person which causes a delay. In other cases, vendors arrive with vague appointments, hoping to speak to you if you have some time. Other people arrive significantly early. This is especially true for people who are interviewing for jobs. You should make your reception room welcoming so that if people have to wait, they won’t be uncomfortable.

It’s a great perk to have bathrooms in the reception areas so that you don’t have to let visitors into the secure areas of the building to use the restroom. There should be separate restrooms for men and women. It’s fine if the bathrooms only fit one person unless you have a large number of visitors on a regular basis. It’s imperative that the bathrooms are handicap accessible. In fact, it’s a legal requirement.

A reception room with small conveniences is pleasant for visitors. What kinds of small conveniences can you include? Charging stations are always appreciated for laptops, mobile devices and cellular phones. A phone with an outside line is helpful in case the person doesn’t have a phone or the phone doesn’t have good access in the building. If people are waiting, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to get some work done or catch up on their emails. Make sure that you have wireless access for visitors in the office. The access should be separate from your company’s wireless accounts. Create a guest wireless account that visitors can log into.

Beverages are another amenity that you can provide. They are a small gesture that signifies the importance of providing hospitality to guests. Make bottled water, coffee, hot water and a variety of teas available in the waiting room. Ask receptions to encourage visitors to take advantage of these amenities. Some companies go the extra mile and provide soft drinks as well. Encourage guests to bring the beverages along to meetings if they don’t have the chance to finish them in the waiting room.

You can put out small treats for visitors like mints, candy, nuts, small bags of chips and other types of snacks. Even if guests don’t eat them, it sends a message of hospitality. Another tactic is to put reading materials on tables. Include a variety of magazines and trade publications. You can also include some promotional materials for your company. Don’t exclusively put out your own company’s materials, although it’s fine to put out related trade publications and business magazines.