One of the most important things you need to keep in mind when designing your waiting room is the fact that it serves an important function in your enterprise.
Imagine a person that comes to your office for the first time. Chances are that they’ll spend their first several minutes (or more) in the reception area or in the waiting room.
This gives you a chance to invest in the design and planning of the waiting room in order to maximize the effect of the first impression that you make on them. This way, you get to make your waiting room much more comfortable.
Remember, you’re not investing in design but in the overall experience, which is why you need to be extra crafty. Here are eight tips to help you out.
Start with the decor
The first thing you need to do is design a pleasant décor, which means focusing on two major aspects – the layout and the light. First of all, you get to start with the décor, which means choosing the theme and the style of the room. Do you want to go with something vintage or modern?
If so, does this reflect your industry or values of your company? There’s always a way to make your design work towards your branding. Speaking of which, there are so many branding opportunities (like painting the logo of your company on the wall of the waiting room) or going for similar branded items.
When it comes to the choice of lighting solutions for the waiting room, you need to consider layered lighting. Sure, you need to enhance the ambient of the room, however, you don’t want to make the place too bright, in order to avoid creating an unpleasant sensation or to irritate your visitors.
However, if you intend to display some brochures in the room (something that we’ll discuss later on), you need to ensure that the illumination in the room is good enough for reading. This is why sectioning different areas of the room might be such a great idea.
Next, we come to the aspect of proper furniture, which is where the majority of your budget will go. First, there’s the issue of the receptionist’s desk. This is the focal point within the room but it needs to fit it in more ways than one. It needs to be size and height-appropriate.
Having a desk too big will make the place look smaller, while having a desk too high, may seem somewhat hostile towards the visitors. The position of the desk is also quite important, which is why you need to do as much research on the subject matter as possible.
Another thing that every waiting room simply must have is an appropriate number and quality of seating options. You also need to understand the importance of figuring out how many seats you can and should fit in this general area.
You see, your waiting room is not supposed to be overcrowded, seeing as how it speaks of a low volume of clients that you can receive at one time. In other words, you want to have a tad bigger place and several additional seats than you actually need in order to achieve this psychological effect.
Snacks and refreshment
Due to the fact that you may have to force your visitors to wait for a prolonged period of time, you might want to try and make this easier for them by providing them with some snacks and refreshments. Keep in mind that the impact on this may be far greater than may appear at first.
For starters, you’re taking their time in the waiting room somewhat more comfortable. Second, you’re making an impression of a great host, which will make them proud to associate with your brand. Lastly, it really doesn’t cost you that much to do so, which is why the ROI is so great.
The next thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that you have so many different snacks and refreshments to choose from, however, going for a hot caffeinated beverage like a coffee or tea might be the best of ideas. Why? Well, first of all, if the meeting is early in the morning or late in the day, your visitors might have skipped their morning coffee in order to sleep 10 minutes longer.
If it’s the end of their day, the effect of their previous caffeinated beverage might have worn off. In order to make this easier on your staff, you might want to look for coffee pod machines and get one for the area.
An accurate estimate of waiting time
The next thing worth keeping in mind is the fact that making your waiting room more comfortable isn’t just about how you design the place. Even more importantly, it’s about how you treat people who are already there. You see, with the right visitor management system, you can easily create a scenario where you accurately estimate when the person in question should be received.
If you have a device that’s in charge of this scheduling, each visitor receives a piece of paper with a number and below this number, there’s an approximate time when they will be received.
This allows them to spend their time doing something else. For instance, if you expect to receive them in an hour, they can go somewhere outside to grab a snack or even choose to spend some time in nature. Also, keep in mind that you need to be a bit pessimistic when estimating when they will be due.
It’s better to receive them 5-10 minutes sooner than anticipated than to do so 10 minutes later than anticipated. This way, you will create an aura of efficiency around your business, which is always a huge plus.
You also need to understand that the majority of visitors to your office won’t just come there and request an audience. Chances are that they’ll contact you ahead of time in order to schedule a meeting. This way, you can make a schedule that will prevent them from waiting for too long in the waiting room.
This will also allow you to do some advanced crowd control of your audience, seeing as how you’re the one who controls the flow of people through your waiting room. It also helps not get your staff overworked and overcrowded.
Strategically create personal space
The issue of personal space is incredibly important for the overall experience of the time spent in the waiting room. You see, the last thing people want here is to rub elbows with people around them. So, what you need to figure out is how to strategically create personal space for every visitor.
When planning a seating option, plan the layout in a way that everyone gets enough personal space and try to orient seating in a way where each individual has a clear field of vision. This way, they will get a sense of privacy in more ways than one.
One of the biggest adversaries of positive waiting room experience is the looming risk of boredom that increases with each passing minute. So, you can try to provide your audience with some entertainment. The first idea worth considering is one of doing some branding, at the same time.
The best way to do so is to invest in a brochure holder somewhere in the waiting area and fill it with leaflets, brochures, and flyers. These old-school marketing methods are the offline equivalent of infographics and can be used to raise awareness of your visitors. Conveying a message this way is truly effective and powerful.
You can also provide a direct way of fighting boredom, instead of just adding branded time-killers for them to explore. For instance, you can hang a massive screen in the waiting room, thus giving them something to watch/focus on until their time to be summoned arrives.
Also, you can start thinking about the Wi-Fi that you’re providing. Chances are that if your bandwidth is good enough, your visitors won’t complain even if you make them wait indefinitely. Seeing as how your business is already in need of a powerful package, acquiring this won’t get you out of the way, either.
One of the things that are the most interesting and intriguing is one of hanging some art pieces or artistic displays around the place. Why? Well, first of all, it makes your office feel more sophisticated. Second, it helps you break away from the stigma of being just another corporate entity.
It helps you feel more human. Third, it allows you to demonstrate some of your company’s values, especially if you go for a print of an art piece with a strong political or ethical message. For instance, a Banksy print or something similar.
What matters the most is that you make your waiting room seem different. This will make it easy to memorize and will evoke feelings that will strengthen brand loyalty and a bond that your visitors feel towards you.
Keep in mind that you’re building an emotion, an impression and that by achieving this, it’s getting harder and harder for them to forget about you. During the first stage, this builds up your brand recognition. Later on, it starts increasing your brand awareness.
Another thing you need to consider is the circumstances of the visit at hand. Keep in mind that there are so many things affecting the experience of people who are coming to your waiting room.
For instance, if there is a chance that some of these visitors will bring along their children, you can always make a miniature playground in order to alleviate some stress from these parents. This, combined with some other above-listed methods definitely gives you a chance to provide them with the optimal waiting room experience.
At the end of the day, what you’re trying to create is a positive experience. This means that the behavior of your staff members (especially your receptionist) plays a massive role. Still, this is a story for another time.
For the time being, properly planning and executing the layout of the place is what you need to put a special emphasis on. With the above-listed eight tips on your side, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.