waiting room

By Lea Schneider

It’s easy for a waiting room to be a business builder. Make sure your business’s waiting room is set up for optimal comfort, convenience and enjoyment for customers.

Keep in mind that no one wants to wait, even when it is very necessary. Someone may be waiting for their car to be repaired, to see the doctor or have a one-on-one with an accountant. No matter the reason for the wait, how that person feels about a business’s service will have a lot to do with the waiting experience.

It’s worth your time to pretend to be your own customer. Nearly everyone you see in any waiting area is holding a phone, tablet or laptop. Grab yours and follow this checklist to see how your waiting area performs.

Is There Comfortable Seating?

A hard plastic chair may be okay for five minutes, but not much longer. If your customers are waiting longer than that, they need something with some padding. Try out your chairs to see if you can sit comfortably in them for long periods of time. They should be both cushioned and supportive. Make sure you offer some options for customers of all sizes, as not everyone can comfortably fit into a standard arm chair. Sometimes you have two people who want to sit together to share work or have a conversation, so make sure to include a couch, loveseat or bench in your waiting areas as well.

Could You Get Some Work Done?

The majority of people will be missing work to wait, so they will welcome the opportunity to get something done. Give it a try in your own waiting room. Try to work for a bit and see if you can find a location in the room that would be productive for you.

Adding a table with chairs is a great waiting room option. It creates a spot to do paperwork or study. The table allows you to focus on your laptop without being sandwiched between others who are waiting—and who might be viewing your work materials.

Can You Plug In?

A charging station is pretty key these days. Anywhere someone waits, they are on their device and watching the battery drain. Add some additional outlets or use a power strip to add additional, easy-to-reach spots to plug in. Having a few different phone chargers available for customers to use is a terrific idea—they’re an inexpensive but much appreciated investment.

Are You Bored?

While a lot of people do have work to do or will check out what’s happening on social media, that doesn’t apply to everyone. Provide a TV for those who would prefer to watch something. Make sure to set it up on one side of the room so there are some quieter spots on the other side. Try to stick to interesting but non-controversial channels that focus on universal subjects such as travel, food or home improvement.

Keep an assortment of magazines on hand as well. Make sure your subscriptions are well rounded, offering a variety of subject matter. Be sure to weed out the oldest copies.

Are You Able to Find the Restroom?

Restroom access is a necessity for everyone, so there is no reason to make people ask. If the restroom isn’t located directly adjacent to your waiting area, then be sure to offer directions. A simple sign that says “restrooms” with an arrow pointing down the hall will do the trick.

How About a Drink?

Not every waiting area is conducive to food, but every waiting area should at least offer water. Either add a water fountain or a water cooler and cups. Single-serving coffee makers that just make one cup at a time are another great option because there isn’t any waste.

What If Your Child Was with You?

Make sure to provide distractions for waiting little people. A subscription to one or two children’s magazines and a basket full of children’s books are good investments.

You can offer coloring books, crayons and a small, child-sized table as well. Play cubes or wall toys are also great waiting room options because the small pieces are attached to the play board so they don’t become lost or make a mess.

How Did You Do?

Your test of your waiting room should have been pretty revealing. Were you able to get some work done? Find what you needed? Be relaxed and comfortable?

If not, tweak your room. Rearrange the space. Add comfortable seating and make sure your customers’ needs are attended to. It’s just good business.

Lea Schneider has many years of experience helping small and mid-size business better organize their workplace spaces. Lea writes advice on business organization for the Home Decorators Collection of Home Depot. If you are researching chairs for areas of your business office or waiting room, you can review many styles on the Home Decorators website here.