Receptionists: Just Another Budgetary Item To Cut

DOES A KEY CARD READER SMILE AT YOU?The next casualty of the recession: Receptionists, who are, as one expert quoted by the Wall Street Journal says, a “a nonproductive use of a person.” (That the person who proffered said opinion is a management consultant resulted in me making one of those laugh-cry-sneeze sounds.)

Not only does the the lack of a receptionist mean the demolition of yet another rung on the entry level of the corporate world’s ladder, it can cause some awkwardness on the part of visitors.

Yet, in a still-sputtering economy, and within a modernizing work culture that increasingly eschews the more hierarchical elements of traditional office life, employing a full-time receptionist whose sole job is to greet visitors and answer phones in a reception area that can cost more than $50 per square foot per year is going the way of two-window offices and three-martini lunches.

That means more workers are using key cards to enter their company’s office space, and more hapless visitors, once greeted with a warm smile and beverage offers, now having to announce themselves over sometimes bewildering phone or intercom systems.

But those “hapless” types will just have to deal! Social Darwinism, baby! After all, just look at what the management consultant who tsk-tsked “nonproductive” workers reaped when he fired his front-office person!

Before moving to 1540 Broadway, MorrisAnderson had an office near Grand Central Terminal, where Miller employed a full-time receptionist complete with proper reception area. “Quite frankly, for the most part it was wasted space,” says Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller’s trade-off saved him at least $10,000 a year. He now relies on a part-time administrative assistant who sits in the bullpen, with a good view of the entrance, and who, in between phone calls and visitors, keeps busy with other tasks.

“The money saved may not seem like a lot, but you know what, it’s somebody else’s bonus,” says Mr. Miller’s broker, Robert Stella, of CresaPartners.

Or health insurance for the part-time administrative assist–hahahaha, just kidding.

[Photo via Michael Pujals on Flickr.]