How Far Should a Reception Desk Be from The Wall?

Jason Markey

Some of us fret over non-issues. Yep. We mull over minor details to ensure everything goes according to plan. Sometimes it works, other times… it’s anyone’s guess how we thrive.

Let’s suppose you’ve acquired one or a few top-of-the-line reception desks from Interior Concepts. Your OCD kicks in (pun intended), and suddenly, you’re wondering where to place the desk. Is how far you position a reception desk from the wall consequential? Probably not. Sure, it won’t break your organization, but it could give you a leg up. Who knows?

So, how far is too far? Is placement an important variable when designing your reception area? As it turns out, we often only get one chance to make a great impression. Why not make a great one through proper space planning?

Make sure you have about three feet of space between the desk and the surrounding walls- the larger and more realistic the gap, the better. This will give you enough room to move around and create a professional-looking workspace. Here’s my take on some of the elements that would ensure a proper layout of your reception.

1. Desk Size Matters 

The average reception desk is about four feet wide and two and a half feet deep. However, the appropriate dimensions for a reception desk will vary depending on the size of the room and your firm’s needs. If you intend to use the reception for other functions, it seems logical to invest in a larger desk.

Similarly, a smaller desk may be preferable if your space is limited. Notably, the most critical element to weigh when choosing the size of a reception desk is the amount of available space. Upon determining this, you can select a desk that provides an adequate work surface while leaving enough room for guests or employees to move around freely.

Imagine buying a larger-than-average desk and attempting to fit it in a small office. In the worst-case scenario, the desk may not fit through the door frame, which would leave you in a pickle. It might also be a tad embarrassing if you were part of the planning committee that authorized such a purchase, no?

Let’s say the desk needs to be the right size to create an efficient and professional work area. It also shows that appropriate sizing shouldn’t be an afterthought- it requires forethought.

You can get away with a bigger desk if you have a large reception area. However, if your space is on the smaller side, you’ll want to choose a smaller desk, so it doesn’t overwhelm the room.

2. Free Movement

The last thing you want is to have a desk that is so big it takes up the entire reception area. Wouldn’t that be something? Plus, you’d be surprised how often it happens and how out of place such a desk looks.

Plus, it would make it difficult for people to move around and create a safety hazard. Picture some of your colleagues or guests bumping into your desk when moving around the reception. Not only would this be annoying, but it could also lead to injury.

Let’s suppose a guest jams their toe against the desk for a moment. Ouch! That’s the kind of nightmare any firm would dread. Plus, such a dreadful experience could make the guest think twice about revisiting your premises.

Now, let’s say you bought a small desk but opted to place it too close to the wall. This could create problems with electrical outlets and make it challenging to access cords. It could also make it difficult to put decorations on the desk or set up a computer. Simply put, your desk shouldn’t be an obstruction, as it can impede workflow. The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, if possible.

3. Placement

The receptionist should always face the direction the guest comes 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. Or, you may need more than one desk.

Once your employees or guests check-in, you’ll need to ensure enough clearance for entry and egress. If the rest of the office is open to the reception area, consider adding space on both sides of the reception desk for smooth traffic flow.

While the ideal reception desk should meld form and functionality, where you place it determines whether or not it does its job as expected. As it turns out, placement isn’t a non-issue after all. And indeed, the little details matter.

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