No one likes waiting, but that doesn't mean that a waiting room has to be an unpleasant experience. By creating a warm and inviting reception area, you can boost the first impressions of your office—and make sure returning clients feel valued. A comfortable waiting area will make waits feel far shorter, but creating an inviting waiting area can take some work. Here are a few tips for improving upon your existing waiting area, through decoration, layout, and entertainment.
1. Keep the Receptionist in a Visible Area
Your receptionist should be in a prominent, visible area at all times. Guests may have questions and will need to address those questions quickly. Further, a receptionist may need to anticipate their needs; if someone looks frustrated or seems as though they need attention more urgently, then a receptionist can intervene.
An enclosed office for a receptionist is often desirable, because most receptionists are also going to need some degree of privacy in which to take care of guest records, phone calls, and reports. Either way, the reception area should be positioned in a way that can look over the entire waiting room, identifying potential issues as needed.
2. Make Sure the Reception Area is Clean and Clutter-Free
On a daily level, make sure the reception area is cleaned thoroughly and any clutter is removed. If there are magazines, they should be stacked—and if there are things like toys for children, they should be put away. It can be easy to lose control over a reception area just like it can be easy to lose control over a living room.
To make this easier, you can invest in placing some hidden storage around your reception area. End tables that have storage in them can be used to keep cleaning supplies hidden. Storage underneath a coffee and drink station can be used to place replacement items, such as additional straws, napkins, or cups. Keeping everything consolidated in a single area will make upkeep much easier.
3. Invest in Comfortable Chairs and Position Them Correctly
Comfortable chairs are incredibly important. If your guests are fidgeting in your waiting room, the wait is going to feel much longer than it really is. In addition to investing in soft, padded chairs, think about how they're laid out. If guests are frequently coming in with their family or their partners, they should be able to easily sit together. If guests are often alone, it may be better to space things out.
Upscale waiting rooms often have fewer chairs clustered in smaller areas, while high volume waiting areas may need to pack in more chairs in a smaller space. Consider how many people you generally have waiting to determine the correct capacity of your waiting room.
4. Get Some Plants and Expressive Decor
Plants naturally make an area feel brighter, more open, and less stressful. You can also find some decor that properly fits your company's brand and style. Focus on making your office feel warm and friendly: putting a little flair into your waiting room is going to make it feel less sterile and clinical. Bringing in some natural light, if possible, can also help.
If you just don't like the feel of your waiting room, paint it! It's possible that it's the color of the room is contributing to a negative feel.
5. Provide Drinks and Snacks, if Appropriate
Drinks and snacks aren't just a courtesy. They also give people something to do while they're waiting. Someone who is distracted making a cup of coffee is less likely to be focused on how long they've been there. Instant coffee machines with disposable pods are fast to use and easy to clean. They also come with a variety of drinks, ranging from tea to hot chocolate. A water cooler and a few snacks, such as chips, will also make people feel more comfortable.
6. Have Entertainment Readily Accessible
A television, magazines, and some games for children are all very welcome distractions. If there's a television, place the remote in a conspicuous place so guests can control what they watch. For magazines, a few magazine subscriptions for varied hobbies can give people something to peruse while waiting. Many people would rather be on their smartphone, though, so consider placing a few outlets or charging stations throughout the office, too—that'll keep them entertained on their own devices.
A comfortable waiting room is an important part of the experience of your entire office. It's the first impression many people will have of your office—and a well-appointed waiting room will show your clients how much you value them. With a few of the above tweaks, you can make it a relaxing experience rather than a stressful one.