Reception Desk 101: Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Desk for Your Office


Your reception area is the first thing people see when they enter your office space, and it has a more significant impact than you may realize. Studies show that first impressions are made within 7 seconds of meeting someone; the same could be said of your workplace. When guests, stakeholders, and new team members enter the front doors, their first focal point is the reception desk. Creating a positive and lasting impression through a well-designed and welcoming environment is essential. The reception desk, often called the ‘front desk,’ is crucial in shaping this impression. This article will guide you through selecting the perfect reception desk for your office, considering size, shape, style, materials, and functionality.

Importance of a Good Reception Desk

A good reception desk serves not only as a functional workspace for your receptionist but also as a representation of your company’s values and brand identity. It can create a professional and inviting atmosphere, setting the tone for the rest of the office space. By carefully considering the design and aesthetics of your reception desk, you can leverage it as a strategic marketing tool that communicates your brand’s essence to every visitor.

U-Shaped Office Reception Desk

The Right Size

Determining the available square footage is the first order of business. Carefully measure the dimensions and create a rough layout sketch, considering any existing furniture and fixtures. This will help you determine the appropriate size for your reception desk and prevent the possibility of purchasing a desk that is too large or too small for the area.

Remember that bigger isn’t always better. Just because you have the space to fit a large desk doesn’t mean it will best suit your team. Often small to medium-sized desks can be optimal for your receptionist’s duties.

On the other hand, if you’re considering a reception desk for a hotel where more than one person is likely to work at the reception, you’ll need to ensure the desk has an ideal amount of space for multiple people. If your receptionist is involved in space-consuming projects when they’re not helping customers (such as receiving packages, processing invoices, etc.), keep in mind to give them room to move and store their work.

The nature of a receptionist’s job means they’re the least mobile of your team, so proper treatment of their workspace is vital to both their job and the look and feel of the entrance to your office space.

Pro tip: Don’t just measure for the desk. You must also account for chairs, storage, and other accessories. There should be at least 60 inches of extra space surrounding all the furniture in the area so your receptionist can move around comfortably and efficiently. 

But you don’t have to do it all on your own—reach out to the professionals at Office Interiors, who will measure your space and provide you with a space plan.

When it comes to the height of your reception desk, no one standard applies to all businesses, but there are general guidelines to consider. 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.

The Right Shape

Various shapes of reception desks are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some common conditions include spherical, straight, L-shaped, and U-shaped.

Spherical Shaped Office Reception DeskSpherical
A spherical or round reception desk is an excellent choice for offices without a dedicated reception area. This type of desk can be easily integrated into an open office layout, providing a distinct workspace for your receptionist without occupying too much space.

Straight Office Reception DeskStraight
This timeless design is ideal for smaller reception areas. Straight desks are perfect for various office spaces, including corporate offices, beauty salons, restaurants, etc.

L-shaped reception desks are a popular choice due to their practical layout, which includes a primary work surface and a separate area for your receptionist to perform their tasks. This design promotes fluid movement between workstations, potentially increasing productivity and efficiency.

Office Interiors HQ Reception Desk - L-Shaped

Designed with ultimate freedom and flexibility, the Haworth Masters Series is an excellent L-shaped desk option we have in place at our headquarters. A single product number is available for specification convenience for a standard reception station. 

U-Shaped Office Reception DeskU-Shaped
U-shaped reception desks are typically an excellent fit for larger waiting rooms with one or more receptionists working simultaneously. These desks can have a slight curve design or straight edges and are perfect for multitasking because of their large surface area.

The Right Style

Your reception desk’s design should complement your office’s overall aesthetic and the nature of your business. The type of business you operate will influence the style of your reception desk. For example, a salon or spa might opt for a warm and inviting wood or lacquer desk, while a modern tech company might prefer a sleek glass or metal option. Hotels and banks often gravitate towards elegant and opulent furnishings, while creative agencies may choose a more eclectic or unique design.

Google Shanghai Office Reception Desk

Renowned global brands like Google and Red Bull have gained recognition for their exceptional reception areas, which showcase distinctive designs and innovative furnishing. Among these reception area designs, a common thread is the strategic incorporation of unique branding elements into desk decorations, such as company colours, taglines, and logos. This deliberate reflection of the core concept of these companies has played a significant role in their success, positioning them as forward-thinking and dynamic businesses.

The Right Material

The materials used to construct your reception desk will affect its appearance, durability, and ease of maintenance. Here are some popular choices to consider:

Laminate reception desks are a cost-effective and low-maintenance option, available in various colours and designs to suit your aesthetic preferences. They are durable and long-lasting, making them a practical choice for many offices.

Metal reception desks, such as stainless steel or aluminum, offer a modern and contemporary look while providing durability and easy maintenance. Stainless steel is renowned for its durability and stylish appearance, making it a trendy choice. On the other hand, aluminum stands out for its lightweight nature and affordability. Additionally, when it comes to industrial or other environments with less climate or moisture control, aluminum tends to perform better, making it a reliable option.

Wooden reception desks offer a warm and inviting look, with many available designs, from simple to intricately carved options. Wood can be stained or painted to match your desired aesthetic and create a lasting impression on visitors.

The Right Functionality

There’s more to a reception desk than the work surface. When you’re deciding on a desk, you need to take into account other factors such as:


The comfort and well-being of your receptionist should be a priority when selecting a reception desk. Factors such as the standing reception desk height, shape, and layout can significantly impact their comfort levels. Ensure the desk you choose is ergonomically suited to your receptionist’s needs and compatible with their office chair or stool.

L-Shaped Office Reception Desk


Adequate storage is essential for a well-organized reception desk. Look for shelves, lockable drawers, and other storage solutions. Easy access to storage at the reception desk is crucial in industries where client or patient files must be accessed quickly, such as medical or legal fields.

In addition to functional storage, it’s also advantageous to have space for personal items like jackets, footwear, purses, and bags. Reception desks are highly visible to visitors, and providing storage for these belongings can contribute to a tidy and professional environment.

Your reception desk needs to be functional for your team, so ask them what features would make them comfortable and streamline their work.

What’s Next?

As you can see, many factors go into ensuring your front desk and, by extension, your brand experience provides a positive reception.

By taking the time to assess your needs and preferences, you can select a desk that enhances the overall aesthetic of your reception area and provides a comfortable and efficient workspace for your receptionist.

Remember that the reception desk is just one part of the puzzle, and other elements, such as lighting, wall art, and plants, contribute to the overall ambiance of the space. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a welcoming and professional reception area that leaves a lasting impression on your clients and guests. 

If you need help figuring out where to start, our team of interior design experts can help you find the perfect reception desk for your business. We’ll work with you to find a style that fits your budget and matches the image you want to project. All you have to do is reach out to us!

Ahona Saha
Marketing Assistant
Office Interiors

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