A reception or waiting room is often the first area within an organisation that a visitor or customer sees when entering a building. It’s therefore important that these areas present a positive first impression and reflect the image that your business wishes to portray.
Seating is obviously a key feature in any reception area or waiting room and it’s likely your visitors will spend the majority of their time sitting down whilst in these areas. Their experience whilst waiting for an appointment or meeting will impact on their perception of your organisation and you can help influence this in a positive way by making them feels comfortable and welcome.
It goes without saying that comfort is a very important factor to consider when choosing seating for these areas and we’ve put together a short checklist to help you select the most appropriate seating for your establishment.
- What type of seating is best for the size of space?
- Who are your visitors and what are their needs?
- What type of image and environment do you want to create?
- What will be the maintenance requirements?
What type of seating is best for the size of space?
The shape and layout of the area may dictate the best type of seating for you. If the area is narrow or in a corridor then flip-up beam seating is a good option. With a compact profile it takes up minimal space and the flip-up seats maximise available walkways when the seating is not in use. However, some elderly people or those with certain disabilities may struggle with flip-up seats and so you may also want to look at beams with fixed seats which stay in position. Most beams are available with integral tables which are useful for displaying company literature, information leaflets or magazines. For areas where space really is minimal choose wall-mounted seats which keep the floor clear and create the illusion of more space.
If space is not an issue then there is a very wide range of loose seats on the market which can be laid out in any configuration. For areas where waiting times may be long it is preferable to choose seating which is padded or deep cushioned but even if your visitors don’t have to wait long, providing them with a comfortable seat is always a wise option if you want to create a good impression.
For multi-purpose spaces you may want to look at stackable seating which is easy to move and store away when the area is required for other functions or activities. This type of seating is much more comfortable than it used to be and there are a lot more options than the traditional plastic stacking chairs that were previously in common use.
If you really want to provide a luxurious waiting area then you may want to have sofas or armchairs but it’s important to ensure these have been designed for commercial use as this type of seating can look worn very quickly with high frequency usage.
Who are your visitors and what are their needs?
If your visitors are all adults then most standard size seats can be considered but if you also have children visiting then you may also want to consider additional seating that’s designed especially for them at a lower height. Depending on the type of establishment you may want to create a children’s area in the corner of your waiting room or if you have the space, create a separate waiting area specifically for children where they can play and make noise without disturbing other visitors. This demonstrates that you have catered for a range of visitors and often makes it easier for parents to keep their children entertained during periods of waiting. There is a wide range of children’s seating on the market which can either complement and co-ordinate with your adult seating or stand out as a unique children’s area if you so wish.
You will also need to ensure the area is accessible for prams, wheelchairs and disabled visitors and that there is adequate waiting room for them. Providing designated space for wheelchairs or prams at the end of seating rows shows you have thought about those users’ needs, it makes the area much more user-friendly and promotes a caring image.
You must also ensure that walkways are wide enough for everyone to manoeuvre through (even when the area is at full capacity) and that the layout, spacing and accessibility complies with current safety regulations.
What type of image and environment do you want to create?
For offices and workplaces, seating can be co-ordinated with your corporate colours to enhance your image. If you want to create a very official looking appearance your logo could even be embroidered onto the seat backs.
Depending on the type of establishment visitors may have a whole range of feelings whilst in your reception area or waiting room. Visitors waiting for a job interview or to see a dentist or doctor may feel nervous and in these types of environments neutral colours can help create a calm, relaxed setting. On the other hand bright colours can make a place feel more cheerful and friendly whilst also creating a striking first impression and high visual appeal.
Consider how you want your visitors to feel and the impression you want to give – serious and corporate, fun but professional, traditional, modern, design-led – the colour and style of seating can have a big impact on how your visitors see you and how it makes them feel.
What will be the maintenance requirements?
For areas with a high frequency of visitors it’s important that the area and seating is easy to keep clean. Wall mounted seats keep the floor area clear making vacuuming or mopping much easier, quicker and more efficient. Loose seating can be moved allowing the whole floor to be cleaned whereas floor fixed seats have to be cleaned around which can be more time consuming.
If visitors may be eating or drinking in your waiting or reception area then vinyl upholstery could be a better choice as it’s easy to wipe clean and will not absorb liquids in the same way many fabrics will. If you prefer a fabric covered seat there are many stain-resistant fabrics on the market which allow liquids and stains to be easily wiped away without leaving a residue. Whilst these can often be slightly more expensive it’s worth the investment if you want to prolong the life of your seats and keep them looking pristine for longer.
In areas such as hospitals where infection control is paramount, seating fully upholstered in anti-microbial vinyl is becoming a standard choice and this may also be used in other establishments where hygiene and cleanliness is important.
Evertaut is a leading UK supplier of seating for waiting rooms and reception areas. With over 80 years’ experience in the commercial seating market they can advise on what type of seating is best for your establishment and help find the right seating to meet your needs.