Office receptions and culture…

The next time you walk into the reception area of any office, look around… There is a fair chance you will get to learn a lot about the company.

To create the first impressions, companies spend a lot of time doing up the decor, jazzing the reception space up and going to the extent of trying to get some good looking people to sit at the front desk. However, what gets missed is that no matter how much you spruce up, it is the first point of interaction and in that sense it is the human interface or the experience of being there that counts.

I have had instances where the expression changes the moment you say you have come to meet the CEO or the senior management. I was once at a reception where I was to meet the CEO. Besides me, there were several other people waiting. What was interesting was, I was asked tea, coffee etc. whereas, the other people were not even asked. The way the courier or delivery person gets treated is another example.

Candidates coming for interviews is one more interesting perspective. I have seen their experience range from brilliant to below par. It is interesting to see how a junior person’s experience varies from a senior person’s or at times it is all the same. The very basic etiquette somewhere seems to get lost when people come for interviews. Candidates seem to wait for hours and its funny how no one seems to be concerned. It is this very talent that the company is struggling to find.

Another one is when a senior person from the organization walks in to the reception, it is interesting to note the sudden change in the environment. I was once waiting at the reception which was otherwise quite friendly, but the moment the big boss walked in, there seemed to be anxiety and a bit of stress in the air.

And finally, I once had an afternoon appointment with a senior person (who I have never met) and had reconfirmed the meeting that morning as well. Once I reached the office, I was asked to wait. I waited and waited well past the schedule. The person I had to meet mentioned that he was busy with another meeting and would send one of his juniors to meet with me. While I waited for the junior to arrive, I saw the person I had to meet come out and meet someone else and take them into the office. I checked with the receptionist, who told me that was indeed the person I had to meet. With social media presence these days, I had also checked the person online prior to the meeting. Finally, the junior arrived and told me the boss was busy in an audit!!

They say a lot can happen over a cup of coffee, similarly a lot can be understood while waiting at the reception….