A receptionist’s security skills are vitally important in recognizing and responding to threatening, dangerous situations with customers and visitors. Keen intuition, observation, and knowledge of security procedures and tools spell S-A-F-E-T-Y when dealing with red flag individuals at the front desk, lobby, or customer service area.

There’s one other important thing that helps protect receptionists, and that’s your desk itself – how it’s set up and what’s on it. The often used phrase “safety and security begin at the front desk” has a physical correlation to how your desk helps or hinders safety precautions.

Receptionists’ desks are tricky because they’re the focal point in extremely public areas. Receptionists are expected to be welcoming, helpful and gracious with visitors, customers, and delivery persons. Administrative professionals and receptionists are champion multi-taskers with lots of papers and items on their desks, simultaneously answering the phone, speaking with others face-to-face, and navigating on their computer. Your desk also reflects your personality and personal identity, particularly family life and interests, and it isn’t a sterile environment.

There are ways to balance all this and still optimize receptionists’ desks for workplace safety.

Here are safety tips for receptionists’ desks and front desk security that will help keep them and their organization safe:

  1. Ensure receptionists have a clear view of the lobby, particularly doors, elevators, and all traffic flow
  2. Eliminate places in the lobby where people can hide
  3. Delineate a clear understanding of where the public is allowed to be in the lobby and front desk area
  4. Create a receptionist’s desk with some type of barrier or partition from the public
  5. Provide receptionists an easy, safe way out of the desk and don’t block them in
  6. Remove office objects that are potential weapons and keep them stored in drawers or cabinets – staplers, scissors, letter openers
  7. Keep family photos away from public view
  8. Keep personal items secure – it’s a no brainer, but store purses, cell phones, brief cases , keys and wallets in drawers or cabinets
  9. Position the receptionist’s computer screen so visitors cannot see it
  10. Equip the front desk with tools such as panic buttons, alarms, or incident notification systems.  Create documented procedures and methods for receptionists to safely handle specific situations before they escalate into  dangerous, tragic events

Do you have other tips and suggestions for the anatomy and layout of a front desk? Let me know, I’d like to hear them.

posted by Lisa Hirsh


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