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‘We need you to watch the front desk for a while’–sound familiar?

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Question: “My company doesn't have a dedicated receptionist. Instead the six members of our admin team are on a rotating schedule to cover the front desk. To me it's always felt like a lost few hours. Things are usually pretty quiet at the desk, but I just can't be nearly as productive—or as comfortable—when I'm answering phones and handling the other duties of a receptionist. Our boss seems to think we really shouldn't miss a beat. Has anyone figured out a way to make this work?" - Nancy, Word Processing Specialist

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim March 12, 2015 at 7:21 pm

We have the same issue – we have 5 admins that rotate covering the front desk for at least one day a week. It can be very disruptive. One thing we have done is set up a remote desktop connection so we can access everything on our computers at our own workstations. Since we have to be there a whole day it’s not always easy to pick and choose projects or scheduling to handle during that one day. I like the idea someone else mentioned about a portable phone. I don’t know if that’s possible for us (probably not in the budget), but it’s a great idea.

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Sara February 27, 2015 at 9:25 am

I am a one-man-band in my office. Anything that is not engineering… that’s what I do. That includes reception/telephone duties for both our offices, so I have had to learn to deal with the constant interruptions. What I have learned to keep me on track is to be sure there is only one particular duty/project in front of me at any given moment. This doesn’t always work when 3 bosses are asking for different things simultaneously, but for the most part I keep a handle on it. Otherwise, I am spending too much time trying to remember which thing I was working on and then trying to find my place.

Also, I think accepting the fact that this is just the way it is going to be also helps. If I were to constantly be perturbed by the “interruptions,” my mind would be focusing on resentment of the situation instead of the task at hand.

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Tesstarosa February 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm

My best suggestion is for all of you to start doing daily logs of your work — both at your “normal” job and what you are doing while manning the reception desk.

You can then consolidate this information to show management what type of productivity loss they are getting from the support staff when they work at the receptionist desk.

This could help support the case that the company needs to consider hiring a receptionist to man the front desk — either full-time or part-time during peak hours.

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Tari February 26, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Although we do have a receptionist, the other Admins are required to fill in when she is unavailable. I have found that when I know the time slot I am at the reception area, I save the projects that are conducive to a new computer, interruption, and are less important. That way, I am not unproductive and it allows me to get the jobs done that are still important, but not urgent.

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Cathy February 26, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Our receptionist was laid off 3 years ago; we have 3 Admin Assistants and we work for a small business. Our company’s solution was to have a rotating schedule (we use the Outlook calendar to remind us when it’s our turn to man the phones) so that none of us has to have the phones more than 4 hours a day. One of us does sit up front all day to greet visitors, etc. but her desk is set up as if it were just another desk, with everything she needs to do her job there. We also use a portable phone so that we can roam the office doing what we need to do and still have the phones covered.

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Karen February 26, 2015 at 4:17 pm

I work in the administration department at one of the University campuses in Wisconsin. Our dedeciated receptionist position (who also supports the Chancellor’s assistant) was vacant. Our administrative team consists of 5 individuals. We each selected one day of the week that we would cover the receptionist position each week for as long as the position was vacant. As we knew ahead of time which day was ours, we planned our daily schedules knowing that there were some things we could do at the receptionist station and some we could only do at our respective work stations. In adition, we soon realized that the technology at the receptionist station needed to be upgraded to the level/versions of computer programs that we were using at our own work stations. We spoke with our administration about the issue and it didn’t take long before the receptionist station was much more functional so that we could bring our own work there to work on when it was our day to be there. In addition to having coverage of that very important front office position, we also learned alot about the position and what that person actually does, which gave each of us a fuller understanding of the overall functions of the entire administrative floor. It was a very valuable experience.

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Gala February 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm

On occasion someone will need to sit at the front desk to cover the phones in our office. One thing I make sure is that any programs that someone else might use is on that computer. Anyone from design, project management or accounting can do their job while sitting there. It sounds like you are there for only a couple of hours, you might change it to 4 or 8 hours so you don’t feel like you are spending more time moving than working.

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