The role of a receptionist in a front office department

Written by michelle mcgriff
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The role of a receptionist in a front office department
Front office reception. (interior image by Dmitry Ersler from

The front desk is the often the introduction to the company. Certainly the front office reception department reflects the organizational culture of the company. Therefore the person holding the position of front desk receptionist does too. First impressions are of utmost importance in corporate America, but there is more involved in this position than making impressions to outside visitors. The front desk receptionist is a multifaceted position that if divided into job tasks could easily require several employees.

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The front desk receptionist is the first point of introduction. The front desk receptionist greets customers/clients. Customers/clients are announced to the back office or executive secretarial staff with the use of e-mail or an intercom system from the front desk receptionist. Often the front desk receptionist can be run interference when the executive does not want to be disturbed. The front desk reception department is capable of handling administrative overflow so that contract/temporary workers are not needed


The front desk receptionist position falls under the category of administration. Most front desk receptionists report to HR directly, an administrative coordinator or office manager. Multitasking is more than simply a buzzword with the front desk receptionist. During lulls, the front desk receptionist can transition to file clerk or other administrative personnel seamlessly. This eliminates the need for additional administrative personnel in the front office where files may be located.


The front desk reception department is one that requires confidentiality. It is a position that requires training to master. The person selected for the position of front desk receptionist has the responsibility to uphold HIPPA, FERPA and any other regulatory security codes and standards. Background checks of candidates should be considered mandatory by hiring managers.


As the front desk receptionist rarely has direct reports, the position requires the ability to excel in time management as well as customer excellence. Some primary duties of the front desk receptionist are: answering phones, greeting customers/clients, filing, backup support of other departments (e.g., accounting), catering, meeting set-up and teardown, building tours, sorting and distributing mail.


It is expected that a front desk receptionist have the same abilities of an administrative assistant, as the duties are only slightly different. Competency levels in Microsoft Office or other office automation should be above basic. Where an administrative assistant generally performs administrative duties in the back office, the front desk receptionist is in the sight of everyone coming in the office at all times. With this in mind the front desk receptionist's conduct is always professional. It is also expected that front desk receptionist knows daily priorities, as distracting and often less important tasks come up at a moment's notice.

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