What does your waiting area say when a client visits for the first time? It’s your first opportunity to make a ‘real-life’ impression on your clients – so it’s important to create a memorable one. Here are some tips on how to design the perfect reception area for your office in order to to meet your client’s expectations.
Take a step back and view your waiting area as an outsider. Better yet, ask a friend to visit. Ask these questions:
- Are the chairs comfortable? A little bit of cushion goes a long way when a client is waiting.
- Are there enough chairs? Plan for more than what may need to ensure a guest is never left standing.
- Are there chairs available for clients of all sizes? Consider adding chairs with no arms to give everyone comfort.
- Are your seat fabrics clean and/or easy to clean? There’s nothing less professional than big stains. Vinyl or tight-weave fabrics can save the day.
Your reception desk is the focal point of your waiting area. The desk should give your staff enough space to efficiently complete their work, while keeping clutter under wraps and out of sight. Things to consider when choosing a reception desk:
- Will your receptionist need to complete private phone calls? A floor-to-ceiling glass divider keeps conversations confidential, while a half-height divider around the desk allows for limited privacy, but keeps the space more open and inviting.
- Will your receptionist need to use a copier, filing cabinet or other office supplies regularly? Organizing needed equipment near the reception space ensures that your staff person is never too far away to miss someone’s arrival.
Think about how different colours affect you. Bold reds, oranges, and yellows may feel agitating. What would a wild purple or hot pink say? What about a soft blue? A muted gray? Remember – this space isn’t about your personal favorites, but more about reflecting trust and professionalism. Try choosing softer, more neutral colours and injecting some personality through wall art, pillows, or rugs.
If you’re fortunate enough to have streams of natural light flowing into your waiting space – capitalize on it! Keep shades or window blinds to a minimum. If you’re in a darker space, choose soft lighting from table lamps or wall fixtures. Overhead fluorescent bulbs feel sterile and unwelcoming – try LED lighting for a more natural feel. Overall, be sure there’s plenty of light in your space for it to feel warm, clean, and for your waiting client to be able to easily read and feel relaxed.
Take a walk through your space. What small touches would add comfort for your client? Consider a coat rack or space to hang jackets or wet umbrellas. Ensure that there are enough surfaces – such as end tables or coffee tables – for your clients to set down a beverage, a project folder, or a handbag. Keep up the welcoming atmosphere with bottled water, mints, tissues, and fresh reading materials. Use air fresheners or fresh flowers sparingly to avoid allergic reactions from guests. Finally, for an added punch, frame a handful of awards or media clippings about your work and hang them in an accessible location.
Sitting in a reception area with nothing to do is not only boring, it’s unproductive. Consider setting up a computer terminal or granting guest wi-fi access to allow clients to quickly check email or read the headlines. A mounted television is also a great option. If your office can expect to have children in your reception area, consider creating a small activity area just for them – their parents (and your staff) will thank you.
Ready to take the next step in your waiting room construction? Contact us today to get started on your project. We can’t wait to work with you.