John Campbell of FCA shares why the new receptionist is a necessity for a fresh take on the workplace in 2022.
– Stay tuned as we share more 2022 workplaces trends for the entire month of December –
We all know the importance of first impressions. It sets one’s initial perception of another person or place, typically involving a positive or negative evaluation as well as a sense of physical and psychological characteristics. When first arriving at a company’s office, this initial impression must result in a positive experience. While the physical space and aesthetic are very important to set the stage, the first interaction with the receptionist is vital. The receptionist’s role in a workplace is to make you feel welcome, regardless of whether you are an intern coming for a job interview or the CEO of a major prospective client.
A People-First Approach
As many companies transform into a hybrid working model centered around ‘choice,’ the dynamics of office space will shift toward fewer individual workspaces. Instead, there will be a new focus on generating more employee connectivity and community with work settings for collaboration, learning and sharing knowledge and social interactions. It is the community-centered approach that will meet the new demands and desires of both employees and employers. This will place an even greater responsibility on human resources to deliver engaging programs and events virtually and in person to meet the expectations for employees’ continued career growth and fulfillment.
The hybrid work model also calls for a robust amount of open space, booking systems, and management tools, and there are multiple systems and apps on the market to deliver these services. While we will witness the rising use of these types of digital tools, there is also the need for a physical presence to seamlessly integrate new modes of working while also providing a personal touch and connection.
Over the years, the rise of the people-first approach welcomed the introduction of IT lounges where an individual receives personal service as opposed to online help desks (where frequently it seemed conversations would go in circles to little avail). The next stage in this process is the implementation of a roaming facilities team, who address facility issues in person, in real time. These teams are equally proactive in engaging with employees regarding audio and video (A/V) challenges as well as other facility and community issues and events. In one of FCA’s recent projects, GSK successfully implemented this proactive approach after an onboarding engagement for a new facility; it was well received by employees.
How does this shifting view of the workplace directly impact the role of the receptionist? It has expanded the role to encompass a new range of responsibilities necessitated by the changing dynamics of space utilization. Taking lessons and insights from the co-working and hospitality sectors, this evolving role is more akin to a concierge and experience manager. They are at the frontline of many tasks, including: making individuals feel welcome, checking them in for security purposes as well as pandemic-related health protocols, directing them to the proper destination within the office or building, and organizing internal and external events.
Some concierge/experience managers even lead the charge with personal services such as making dinner and tour reservations, offering suggestions for events, and arranging transportation. This is especially the case with smaller companies where the receptionist/concierge/experience manager is responsible for company-wide organization, staff management, and implementation of programming and events.
This change will cause a spatial increase in lobby / reception desk areas to better accommodate both in-person and digital check-in and concierge service options. While lobby design will vary depending on the individual culture and business sector, these welcome spaces will be more generous in size and will actively portray the company brand in a more engaging manner through both a digital and static medium.
Why This New Role in the Workplace Matters
The importance of this role is two-fold. Firstly, it ensures that a company demonstrates a proper first impression to both visitors and employees––this requires filling the role with someone who embodies and reflects the core business values and voice, and also has a sense of character. The significance of this role goes deeper than just the first impression; it’s about ensuring happiness within the company internally, too. Some businesses are even calling this new human resources type of role the “Chief Happiness Officer.”
The role of a Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) is to ensure that appropriate strategies are used to build teams that are both adept at their work and content in their day-to-day. For many, this can seem like a tall order. However, in the same way that a receptionist has to make everyone feel welcomed by establishing a connection, the responsibilities of the CHO lie mainly in reinforcing the people-oriented culture that has become the norm in modern workplaces in the post-pandemic age. Through careful consideration and attention to the needs and wants of team members, CHOs can create environments that fuse life and work in meaningful ways, leading to increased engagement, a sense of control, and fulfillment among employees.
What to Expect in 2022
Just as the demands of the physical office differ by the needs of employees, so too does this refreshed outlook on the traditional receptionist. Depending on the company’s size, type of business, structure, and workplace model, this role might be merged within the responsibilities of one individual. While with larger companies, the receptionist, the office manager, human resources, and the Chief Happiness Officer, could all be different people––potentially even operating under various departments.
The way this new concept is integrated into businesses as they seek to evolve and modernize going into 2022 will look different from one company to the next. The consistent factor is the necessity for workplaces to have dedicated individuals who intentionally focus on first impressions and company happiness. It will be a crucial component that determines business success and sustainability moving forward.