The waiting room is usually the first thing people see when entering an office-based business. That is why the reception area can make or break you. It creates first impressions, as well as sets the mood on how the business is operated and what kind of treatment to potentially expect. There are several things you should take into consideration when designing your office waiting area.
Waiting room reception desk is the focal point of the enclosure. It should be easy to find and access. The reception desk needs to create an inviting and clean feeling. Stacked up folders and documents, packages lying around, and a messy receptionists’ personal area will make the business look careless, unorganized and maybe even untrustworthy. If the receptionist is in possession of many items, which need to be handled, make sure to provide them with a reception desk, equipped with plenty of storage space to quickly tuck away unnecessary items and avoid clutter.
If the reception area gets a lot of traffic and the waiting room often handles multiple people at a time, then it should be big enough to accommodate multiple clients at once. Be sure to remember to leave enough room for office inventory, such as a computer, phone, printer, scanner, fax machine and other stationery office supplies.
When choosing waiting room seating, begin by taking into consideration what is the average number of people the waiting area receives at a time. If it is a low maintenance or a high traffic room. For busy waiting rooms, it would be a good idea to acquire seating with combination or engineered fabrics, since they tend to better withstand drastic wear. Also, tighter woven fabrics tend to hold longer.
If your office waiting room is big enough, do not limit yourself to standard chairs. Provide a variety of seating options for your visitors. Designate a small couch, some armchairs, a chaise lounge or even a rocking chair. The option to choose from a variety of different seating comfort types will make visitors feel more welcomed and appreciated, as well as make their wait time seem shorter. There should also be a variety of firmness. While plush waiting room seating can be quite comfortable, it can also create a sinking feeling for those who have a harder time getting up or need extra spine support.
While decor is not as an obvious necessity as office reception furniture, it does add a lot to the overall look and feel of the waiting area and how the business is perceived.
Hang some wall art, which is relevant to the area and the style of the office. Abstract images or faded color landscape paintings can have a soothing and relaxing effect and so can decorative cascading fountains and fish tanks. Equip the waiting room with something to look at and keep clients entertained, such as a widescreen TV. If you do get a TV, make sure to always have the channel set to something of neutral nature. Political shows or reality TV can be irritating to some. Look for a channel on topics such as cooking, interior decor, home remodeling, art or traveling. Such shows will set a positive mood and not come off as offensive.
Put a small coffee table next to some of the seating. While it is common to provide magazines as reading material, try to think outside of the box and opt for books instead since multiple magazines require subscriptions, quickly get outdated and contribute to paper waste. Purchase some light reading books with plenty of pictures or practical tips. Do not put them out all at once, but rotate the selection every few months.
Equip the waiting room with some phone chargers and offer free Wi-Fi. These are the two most desirable things in waiting rooms.
Interior designers stress the importance of natural lighting in office facilities. Natural light elevates mood and helps set our inner clock cycles, compared to dark reception areas with no daylight coming in and bright artificial lighting. Fluorescent lights are also proven to be bad for your vision and very straining on the eyes.
Make sure to keep the reception area clean at all times. The receptionist or one of the cleaning staff members should check up on the waiting room every 2-3 hours to make sure there is no mess, the reading material and furniture is neatly arranged, there are no coffee spills or leftover food from outside. A waiting room left alone from early morning until late afternoon will surely end up a mess.
Worn out and stained waiting room furniture creates unfavorable first impressions. The person monitoring the reception area should have quick cleaning solutions at hand. If a stain is not taken care of on time, it becomes harder to clean the next day. Having a small portable steam cleaner within reach can make a big difference, especially if most of the reception area furniture has fabric upholstery.