October 27th, 2021 | Best Office Furniture
No one likes the idea of waiting. But, as a business, you can make the experience more enjoyable—bearable, at the least—through a well-thought-out waiting room design. Healthcare facilities, large corporations, hotels, and restaurants, among others, could all benefit from having a welcoming place to accommodate their clients while waiting.
For example, a 2018 report shows that the average waiting time in a doctor’s reception area is 18 minutes. It also found that there’s a direct correlation between wait times and patient satisfaction. The longer the patients wait, the less they are satisfied.
This could mean a losing proposition in a business setting, knowing that customer satisfaction declines with every passing minute. But, with a thoughtful waiting room design, you can transform this seemingly irrelevant space into an opportunity for engagement.
How to Create a Welcoming Waiting Room for Your Business
Waiting room, reception area, seating area—however you wish to call it, this space allows you to create a good first impression. Therefore, it should make your guests feel warm and welcome while waiting to be accommodated. There are at least three key areas to focus on if you want to improve the waiting room experience for your customers:
There has been a heightened emphasis on safety to keep COVID-19 infections under control in today’s situation. With furniture, it should mean opting for pieces that can withstand harsh and repeated cleanings. When possible, textiles should be non-porous to allow for easy cleaning. Take leather for example—not only is it aesthetically appealing, but easy to clean as well. All it takes is a damp cloth and soap for a quick clean-up.
Waiting spaces should also be designed in a way to accommodate visitors comfortably. Often, this means going far beyond the standard seating arrangements. Instead, consider offering a mix of seating options such as chairs with table arms or pull-up tables so visitors can use their laptops while waiting.
Furthermore, while natural lighting and relaxing outdoor views are advantageous, you would want to supplement those with additional light sources and some artwork. Nature artworks, in particular, have been known to relieve stress.
Overall, a seating area should incorporate features that make visitors feel welcome. Think of serving refreshments like water, coffee, and tea, or having free WiFi to keep them occupied during a long wait. If you frequently accommodate kids, you can also set up a small play area equipped with puzzles, games, and other activities. Don’t forget other entertainment features like a TV and some magazines, too.
Other than that, make sure that your furniture is arranged in a way that encourages conversation—don’t push the waiting room chairs against the walls and ensure that they allow for a clear sight to the reception desk.
Tips on How to Layout a Welcoming Waiting Room
In its most basic form, a reception area should have a reception desk, chairs for visitors, and a table or two to hold magazines or keep the visitors’ belongings while waiting. Of course, how you will design your waiting area will largely depend on the business you are in. But, regardless, the following tips will help you create a space that’s safe, comfortable, and welcoming.
1. Pay attention to traffic.
First things first: your reception area should allow for a free flow of traffic. Having a separate exit is an advantage. But, if that’s not possible, the least you can do is to arrange your furniture in a way that your visitors will not cross paths with others. Mark areas where they will be entering and exiting so the foot traffic doesn’t bottleneck.
2. Invest in the right furniture.
A traditional reception area will have several chairs to accommodate the possibility of having several visitors at a time. If you are seeing visitors with different needs, you will have to factor that in as well. This is particularly true in a healthcare facility setting.
Reception Desk: Your reception desk is the first thing your visitors will see from the entrance. As such, it should be inviting and clean. Opt for one with enough surface area for your computer screen, printer, and scanner as well as adequate storage to tuck away items you regularly deal with—boxes, packages, documents, etc. The size and shape of your desk will depend on your reception space, so make sure to measure accurately to guarantee that it will fit properly.
Seating: While you should promote conversations, you should also account for personal space. Who would want to sit elbow-to-elbow with a stranger, anyway? Instead of cramming single armchairs in rows, use different types of seating like single chairs, loveseats, and couches. This proves effective in accommodating a single visitor, a couple, or a small family all with adequate comfort.
Regarding upholstery, think of materials that you would be comfortable sitting on for more than 30 minutes. Favor breathable fabrics—those that don’t trap heat and don’t stick to the skin when you’ve been sitting for a long time. If you prefer your chairs washable, consider those with removable covers.
3. Set the tone with colors.
If the furnishings are the foundation of a welcoming waiting room, the colors—among other elements—set the tone. The colors of your furniture, walls, and accents can directly affect the way your visitors feel. As such, you’ll want to work with colors that reflect the needs of your business. For a doctor’s waiting room, choose calm and soothing colors like blue, green, and purple. Blue also denotes loyalty and security, so you might also want to consider this in your office’s reception area.
4. Add decorative lighting.
A well-lit room helps visitors feel comfortable and at ease. But, how you play with your decorative lighting will depend on your objective: use soft, bright lighting if you want to exude a sense of professionalism and low, warm lighting to create a friendlier and cozier ambiance. Table lamps, wall sconces, and floor lamps are some of your lighting options to enhance the mood in your waiting room.
5. Finish with accents.
Lastly, you’ll want to pick out some décor to complete the look of your reception area. Some staples in any waiting room include reading materials, pieces of artwork, and a vase of fresh flowers or two. The key here is to give your visitors something fascinating to look at while waiting for their appointments.
Regardless of how beautiful or relaxing your reception area may look, what matters most is to ensure that you provide your visitors with good service. Remember, just because you may have set up the most welcoming waiting room doesn’t mean that’s all you have to do to keep customer satisfaction high.
Ready to get started? Shop for your waiting room furniture at Arenson today!
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