A Reception Area provides Food for Thought

Recently I sat in a reception area that left much to be desired.

It did not create an ambience nor did it engender any confidence in me about the company. This got me thinking and I started to become more observant when I entered organizations.

Now one definition of Reputation says that it is the net result of the interactions of all the experiences, impressions, beliefs, feelings and knowledge all stakeholders have about a company.

That means that a reception area or entrance to a building can have both a physical and a psychological impact on a person. Certain funeral companies have cottoned on to this and have started to change their arrangement areas from being a cold stark place to be more like a living room – making it easier for a customer to make funeral arrangements. In the retail I know that the study of décor is a scientific process, I also know that Feng Shui experts have a lot of advice that can be useful.

So to make matter a little bit easier for you I thought I would share with you a checklist with you.

Why don’t you use it to benchmark your company’s reception area? Or even better, ask a few people to use it, record their observations and share it.

You may learn something useful.

The worksheet although very cryptic at this stage, may stimulate your thoughts. If you would like to add to it, why not send me a note at deonbin@icon.co.za


Section: Visual

Area: Reception – First Glimpse of the Business Premises

Context: Ambience

Exercise: Assume that you are a bee or genie flying to your offices. Take the blinkers off. Document everything that you see. Better still ask your partner to accompany you one day and describe to you what they see and feel in this area.


  • Reception – Is it Organized and Clean?
  • Is the latest Company Brochures & marketing materials/Sustainability & Annual Report displayed and copies available for customers ?
  • Are the windows and entrance doors clean?
  • What about the State of the bathrooms – OHASA requirements/Cleaned often/Sanitary Requirements for Ladies/Physically challenged bathroom clean
  • Efficiency Factor – Outsourced Security can be a problem – How easy is to get through the entrance?
  • Switchboard – Latest technology/3 ring policy/Well trained Operator/ Bomb threats/
  • General Housekeeping. What do Feng Shui experts recommend?
  • Parking area – Think through a customer arriving at the premises. Is it well signposted? What is the level of service at the gate like? Is it safe to walk from the car park to the front door, especially on windy and rainy days? Watch out for potential slippery areas.
  • Music – Type for Business
  • Preparation to deal with crises such as life safety and security threats. Why not have the name and photos of Fire Wardens and OSHA reps on notice boards?
  • Usage of notice boards and intranet. What about internet kiosks or wireless access?
  • Usage of posters such as policies of intent, awards, etc.
  • Serving of Refreshments? What about a water cooler?

Final Thoughts

What do Feng Shui, interior decorators, Safety, Security & NLP experts have to say about this area? The workplace environment plays an important role in creating a link for any visitor to the reputation of the organization. Who is Responsible/Accountable?