If there is one thing that makes people feel at ease when visiting a business, it’s a well-designed waiting room. The best waiting room is one where your visitors feel comfortable and welcomed into the environment. The problem is deciding exactly how to design or alter your waiting room to be that truly inviting environment that you want to provide. We’ve come up with 20 great tips on how to do just that, so you can pick and choose depending on the style and type of business you own or manage.
1. Consider the Colors You Use
Nobody wants to step into a doctor’s or dentist’s office to see boring beige, burnt orange, or ultra-pink from ceiling to floor. It can be off-putting and make a visit uninviting. If someone isn’t happy to be in the building to begin with, this is only going to add fuel to that fire. Even if your waiting room has a nice design, the color scheme can make it less inviting as a whole.
If you want to stick with neutral, that’s completely fine. However, you might want to add some warmer neutrals, like greens and blues for a pop of color. Some colors that are known to make visitors more relaxed and comfortable are green, blue, gray, violet, and pink. Consider pairing up a couple of those the next time you redecorate the waiting room. You can really choose any color as long as you stay away from overly bright shades and go with muted hues.
For a medical office, you want to inspire a sense of tranquility. This can work well with neutral tones and shades of blue. However, add in a few accent pieces with a warm color like yellow or red to prevent providing a cold environment. Even if you keep up the standard white walls, the furniture, artwork, and lamps can add some needed color.
If you’re working with a law office, go for darker colors like browns, dark blues, and dark greens. This presents an environment for dialogues and professionalism. Plants are a great way to add some green without any major changes. Rich tones of gold and burgundy also work really well in this situation.
2. Proper Signage for Direction & Entertainment
Everyone appreciates good communication and that doesn’t stop with your receptionist. When individuals are sitting in the waiting room, proper signage can go a long way toward a more inviting atmosphere. If it’s a small building or location, a simple chalkboard sign directing visitors to the front desk or to sign a sheet checking in is a great start. You can also consider adding signs for the restrooms, vending machines, or other areas that visitors may want to find.
When people come into your waiting room, you don’t want to make it a confusing place to be. Get rid of the confusion by making it clear what visitors are to do and where they should go. This will create an environment that is more relaxing and familiar, even for someone who is stepping inside for the very first time. Make sure all of the signage is in a place where it will be easily seen. If people will mostly be seated in the waiting room, that means placing signs where all seats can see them.
If you have the budget available, digital signs can be a fantastic way to improve the waiting process. This type of sign can be programmed to provide tips, facts, news, and advice that is applicable to your audience. You can connect with your patients or clients without even speaking to them, which can go a long way toward making the entire visit a successful one.
3. Provide Comfortable, Attractive Furniture
Nobody wants to head to the dentist to sit down in a tiny plastic chair that is shoved right next to another an identical chair. The same goes for an uncomfortable loveseat or sofa. Nobody is going to feel comfortable in that type of situation, no matter how inviting other aspects of the waiting room might me. This can be irritating even if sitting for only a few minutes. If the patient or client will be there a longer time, it can be even worse.
It doesn’t matter if you’re revamping your waiting room or starting from scratch, think about the comfort factor of the furniture. You want your visitors to enjoy sitting and waiting and one way to do that is by ensuring their backs and bottoms aren’t hurting when they stand up. It’s something a visitor will remember throughout their visit and perhaps even into the rest of their day. That isn’t something that will have people clambering to come back again.
On the other side of the coin, you also don’t want to purchase furniture that has no durability. With hundreds of people sitting in your chairs or on your sofas, you will want them to stand up to heavy use. The good news is that you can get the best of both worlds. It might take a little research to find the right option for your needs, but it's well worth it.
4. Hang Some Art on Your Walls
When you want a comfortable vibe for your waiting room, artwork can be especially helpful. It’s a fantastic way to detract from the white walls and empty spaces, which tend to be common in a waiting room. Artwork is an excellent way to add a splash of color to your waiting room without breaking the bank. It can also make a positive impression on your visitors and give them something to focus on while waiting.
If you want to show your care for the community around you, consider partnering with a local artist or gallery for the art you display. This has another perk to it in that you can swap out the art on a regular basis, so it never gets stale or boring to regular visitors. You can choose artwork that fits your tone and it will help provide that relaxing and inspiring mood that you want to provide to anyone who walks in the door.
What’s great about artwork is that there are tons of options out there. You can go with a couple of paintings that bring together your color scheme, set up a sculpture that relates to your industry, or go with something even more unique to add a contemporary touch. Keep in mind that some studies show nature scenes and landscapes may help reduce stress, while abstract art can increase it.
5. Think About How You Arrange the Floor Plan
You probably already know that putting the furniture out in no particular configuration is not the best idea. You want the space to feel put together and united to give off a calm air for visitors. What you may not realize is that having a super organized floor plan also may not be the right option. It may be the norm in many waiting rooms, but you don’t have to follow all the rules all of the time.
Think about offering your guests different options in terms of where to sit and how to do so in a way that is comfortable for them. A row of chairs one after another is going to feel clinical and cold. If you are a dentist or a doctor, this might not sound like a bad thing, but it can give your visitors the wrong perception. No matter what your waiting room is for, you want it to be a warm and inviting place to sit down for a while.
Add in a nook with kid-friendly furniture and toys, spaces where it’s easy to watch the news or sports, and maybe even some spaces where laptops or tablets are appropriate. This will ensure that all of your visitors feel at ease in your space, not just some of them. A broad appeal is much better than one that is niche. Everyone is unique and appreciates different things.
6. Add Some Life to the Waiting Room
If you need to add vibrance to your waiting room, that’s an easy proposition. It can improve the satisfaction of your guests, especially those who may be anxious, uneasy, or upset already. There are a few ways to implement this depending on your budget, style, and taste.
The easiest solution is to provide plants in your waiting room. There are many benefits to choosing this option. It helps make a room look and feel less stuffy. It also adds a sense of beauty to the room that can’t be replicated with other measures. It’s also been shown that plants can improve productivity among your staff and provide a sense of calm for guests. Think about adding in a few more colorful plants or ones with pleasant scents for the best results.
If you prefer to go bigger, a fish tank can be a fantastic solution to the problem. Many people enjoy watching fish swim around and the running water noise from the tank can be extremely soothing. Fish, plants, or both give visitors a way to calm themselves before their appointments. It can also set your business apart as somewhere special to visit.
7. Make the Act of Waiting More Active
When you are able to provide an activity or the option for an activity to those in the wait room, it can make it seem as if the time waiting goes by much more quickly. This can keep guests are stressing and spending time staring at the clock, which is likely there you are going for. The bare minimum for this is to offer free Wi-Fi for visitors. However, you can go above and beyond to truly set your space apart.
If your waiting room has sufficient space available, you could consider offering charging stations, communal work space, or individual desks for visitors. Many people are visiting in lieu of being at work so having a way to be productive is always going to be appreciated. It can bring down the stress level and show your office cares about their time and allowing them to use it as they wish.
In some waiting rooms, visitors can use iPads or other devices provided by the business itself. You can tether the devices to the furniture to avoid losing them or having them fall to the ground. On the devices, you could provide some fun apps, magazines, games, and newspapers so people have an activity to immerse themselves in while waiting.
8. Lighting Is a Huge Part of Décor
Many people underestimate the effect that lighting has on a space. You do not want to be one of those people. If you’re still using fluorescent fixtures, you definitely want to make a few changes. Studies have shown that this sort of light can lead to vision problems, headaches, and focus issues. This is not to mention that fact that the intense wash of white light can make many visitors feel uncomfortable in the waiting room. If you must go with fluorescent, try a compact version, instead.
When choosing lighting for your waiting room, think about the type of lights that you enjoy at your own home. Muted and natural lighting will go over much better with visitors than traditional fluorescents. Choose a comfortable color temperature that offers enough brightness for filling out paperwork. You might want to choose light between about 4,500 and 5,000 on the Kelvin scale for the best results.
Indirect light is important, too. Make sure that natural light makes its way inside through the use of doors and windows. That means you should avoid blocking your windows with blinds or large pieces of furniture. This will create a nice balance between direct and undirect lighting. LED lights may be a great option for many waiting rooms as they are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and often offer the option for dimming and brightening as needed.