Walking into an office where a live person is ready to greet you with a smile is a really nice perk.
Live receptionists can put visitors at ease right away, answer any questions they might have, and make sure that they get to where they’re going as soon as possible.
However, if your office is like most, hiring a live receptionist might also come with a few drawbacks. In many cases, especially in the COVID-19 era, keeping your reception area unstaffed can be a really great option — especially in light of modern tech that helps visitors check in remotely.
Here are a few of the top reasons that you may decide to completely remove employees from the lobby.
Reduced person-to-person contact
The novel coronavirus pandemic has, of course, brought a whole new set of complications for the visitor check-in process.
In response, in some offices, the front desk administrator may have stepped into an even more important gatekeeper role. Receptionists may be expected to perform temperature checks and collect information about visitors’ recent travel history and COVID-related symptoms, for example.
But temperature-checking has never been a foolproof way to screen people for COVID-19, as we wrote in our blog post on the practice. And screening questions and agreements can be conducted fully remotely with visitor management systems like The Receptionist.
Because the novel coronavirus is primarily spread by infected respiratory droplets transferred via live, in-person contact, many office managers have decided that it would make everyone feel safer and more comfortable to remove the personal element from the lobby completely.
Related post: Protect Your Office From the Risk of Infectious Disease — Starting in the Lobby
A better working environment for admin staff
Only the receptionists at the most highly-trafficked offices can focus exclusively on visitor management.
Most receptionists also handle a variety of other tasks as part of their jobs, from human resources work to office management to personally assisting executives.
That’s why we’ve always recommended that anyone who is primarily responsible for visitor management not also be saddled with office jobs that require stretches of concentration. Being interrupted by each visitor that comes in can be super frustrating for anyone with lots of other work to do.
An overworked receptionist can also affect the visitor experience. When receptionists feel rushed and start to resent interruptions, they may not be able to greet visitors cheerfully or give them as much attention.
If your office receptionist already plays a vital role in other areas of your office, you may find that giving them an office away from the lobby gives them the time and space to do even more valuable work for the team.
Listen to the podcast: Are you suffering from Person Nearest the Door Syndrome?
More usable office space
If your reception area is like most, the front desk takes up a lot of space. Generally, that’s because it needs to be high and wide enough to conceal all of the receptionist’s work. A larger desk helps you maintain a clean look that makes a good first impression on visitors. In many offices, the desk also serves as a focal point and a design feature for the area.
However, in the era of social distancing, extra room in the lobby is especially valuable — and people aren’t likely to lose their appreciation of extra space anytime soon. By replacing a desk with a space-saving tablet and stand, you can add extra seating or simply a roomier feel to your lobby.
And depending on how your office is set up — for example, if it has a more open feel — eliminating the front desk may even make it possible to add more space to the interior of your office. This can be an especially helpful option if your office gets visitors only occasionally.
No need to scramble to “cover” the front desk
Relying on a live receptionist to greet visitors can actually backfire if there’s no convenient way for your staff to cover the front desk at all times.
After all, a live receptionist will necessarily have to step away from the desk for things like bathroom breaks and lunch breaks. If visitors arrive during one of these times and have to wait for the receptionist to return in order to move forward with their visit, the in-person advantage of a live receptionist is completely lost.
Rushing through bathroom breaks or trips to the water cooler to ensure the front desk is always staffed can also be stressful for employees.
Plus, if your business relies heavily on a live receptionist, there will be a lot of pressure to have someone else sit at their desk when they’re sick, on vacation, or otherwise out of the office. Especially in a pandemic era when people are cautioned to stay home for any mild symptom, these kinds of absences are likely to increase. That will also increase the headaches inherent in trying to keep the desk occupied at all times.
By removing the in-person requirements completely, you remove all the stress and distraction related to making sure there’s always someone sitting upfront.
Potential cost savings on staffing
There’s no question that a live receptionist can add a lot of value to an office.
But paying for someone to dedicate themselves completely to the duties of the front desk can be a luxury to many small businesses.
It may be a smart move to wait on making a live receptionist hire until you’ve grown enough to easily manage the cost.
Related post: The Pros and Cons of Hiring Additional Office Support Staff
The fact is that digital call routing systems and visitor check-in apps have come a long way in recent years, and paying for them can be much less expensive (and less complicated) than hiring, training, and onboarding someone to cover the front desk for general calls and visitors.
Even if you leave your lobby area unstaffed (but equipped with a tablet-based check-in app) for the slowest times for visitors and hire someone to come in part-time for your busiest times, you could still be saving your business plenty of cash.Paying for someone to dedicate themselves completely to the duties of the front desk can be a luxury to many small businesses. Click To Tweet
Ready to transition to an unstaffed reception area?
Are you interested in trying out The Receptionist visitor management system to stand in for a human receptionist in your office? Visitor check-in can be completely contactless, and you can try the full system for two weeks in our no-obligation trial. Just head over to our home page and submit your email address to get started. Or get in touch to arrange a custom demo so we can show you exactly how it would work for your office.
We make it super easy for new users to get set up with packages that include an iPad and your choice of wall mount, desk stand, or floor stand. Plus, our Radical Support® team will be on hand to help with anything you need.
We hope to hear from you soon!
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