The modern day replacement for a receptionist 211



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Visiting a corporate headquarters in Sydney this week I was confronted when I came to their reception desk with a machine I have never seen before… and boy is it a sign of what is to come.

This machine could be known as “the virtual receptionist” and frankly it made me feel more like I was a part of the Jetsons than I have ever felt before. When I arrived at the reception area, coming up in the beautiful traditional building’s lift, I walked into an empty, comfortable looking reception, and in front of the elegant reception desk that was devoid of staff was a tall, metal machine waiting to “serve me”. Next to it stood a plastic sheet full of phone numbers if I should not be able to work out what I needed.

I stood there at the reception desk of the 130+ year old company in a small amount of surprise. So far in my career, this is the first fully-automated receptionist I have ever seen. There is no doubting that it is an important sign of the times that workers must have more and more skills to survive in the workplace. But it also had me thinking of how many important service roles will be taken out of play by this humble, personality free machine that resembles an airline checkin computer.

I stood in front of it in awe while it took my photo, captured my name and business details and then contacted the person I had an appointment to meet with great efficiency. It printed me a stick on nametag, and then I sat to its side and waited. When everything fits the formula, I have no doubt this is an efficient way for a business to eliminate costs, and for me that day, it did fit the formula.

I sat there as I waited and thought about how many of our readers were a significant part of a business’s face and what you would think of this change. Whilst it comes is no surprise to most, I am sure many of you would be disappointed to see the front of house role that for most businesses used to be one of their most important visible faces, disappear and be replaced by a machine.

Share your thoughts with me today.


electronic reception wide

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I have interviewed many people for various positions over the years but I learnt early on a good trick from a colleague. When interviewing, particularly for sales people, and I was not too sure about one, I would ask the receptionist how they behaved when they arrived, what was their attitude to the receptionist. Several showed complete arrogance forgetting that these valuable employees are the gate keepers to the company and for me receptionists were the gate keepers to my customers.

    1 REPLY
    • Totally agree. In fact checking with cleaning staff is another indication.

      1 REPLY
      • Yes, Irene Mackay, cleaning staff ALWAYS know as do receptionists, they keep companies/drs surgeries/schools etc running efficiently and they ALWAYS know!!

  2. Not for me, sounds really sterile and not inviting at all ……. I would prefer to speak to a human being thanks.

  3. Soon most jobs will be done by computer, robot or machine. Where does that leave people seeking employment?

  4. More profits for a company but less jobs for others, wonder if the replaced human receptionist was hoping to work until they turned 70 or in Joe Hockey’s predication, until they reached 150. Stop replacing the human touch and then blaming those who were replaced.

  5. Done a lot of reception, establishing rapport with customers, suppliers etc. beneficial to employers, private or all levels of government. Cannot be achieved by a machine.

  6. No wonder the unemployment list is getting longer which Union does it belong to

    2 REPLY
    • My husband belong to the union his whole working life and when he needed help they didn’t want to know him so I don’t blame people not joining

  7. Medibank had those machines years ago, just another saving mechanism to put people out of work!

    1 REPLY
    • At our rural Medibank office, customers are “greeted” by a person who “guides” you through their computer claim form. Bad luck for elderly & infirm. Some ppl have no access to technology nor do they understand it. I wonder which “insightful” fool thought of this?

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