The importance of receptionists

Welcome to the Langeveld building

The Langeveld building. Photo: DUB's archive

Since 2012, his "home" is the Langeveld building (article in Dutch only, Ed.) When he is there, you find him after climbing 32 steps, stepping on ten rows of white dots and going through the swinging door. Grey hair, friendly observing eyes, and a smile. He is sitting behind a pristine white, empty front desk - except for a basket with female hygiene products stashed away in a corner.

He was the one that welcomed me when I did my job interview. He was the one who told me where I could find the interview committee. With him, I shared my first impressions after the interview.

In my first work week, he told me how to use the university bikes, and the importance of checking in my badge otherwise doors wouldn’t open and the coffee machine wouldn’t work. More importantly, he greeted me whenever I passed his desk: “Hi, Monica”, “Dag, Monica”, “It's late, Monica”. In this new environment, one person knew my name. It made me feel at ease. 

I stood at the front desk, practising his name: Ni (as in niece)- ya (as the Dutch ja)- zi (as in zebra): Niyazi, and trying to pronounce it correctly. When I spotted a new face behind the white desk, I tried to remember if this was Emma, Esmee, Heleen, Levi, Marlieke, Mona, Philip or Simon.

Niyazi remembered practically all the names of faculty who passed him on their way in or out, greeting them with a nod, a smile or a few words, and making them feel visible and valued.

Last week, when I asked his permission to write this column, I noticed a large group of students leaving the building around seven: “Hi, Niyazi”, “Dag, Niyazi”, “Doei, Niyazi”. This heartiest exchange showed what a difference a receptionist can make. 

“We are privileged”, I am told, “to work in a building that has a receptionist that ‘belongs’ there.”

Every day when I enter the Langeveld building, I realise that being personally welcomed affects my sense of belonging, my mood, and the start of my day. 

For me, Niyazi contributes to a positive working environment. I feel privileged.