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Mind Games at Work in Your Reception Area

Mind Games at Work in Your Reception Area

Your reception area is a hotbed of activity. Mind activity! Whether it’s a potential new client or an interviewee, the perception of your business and your brand starts from the moment they enter the building. Workplace design and fit-out company Evoke Projects explains how you can gain a competitive advantage with the best waiting environment.

Emotions at play

The emotions that people feel will depend on the reason for their visit. For example, an interviewee or a salesperson may experience anxiety, while a potential new client may be curious and sceptical.

The range of emotions could include:
• Anticipation
• Anxiety
• Boredom
• Confidence
• Curiosity
• Discomfort
• Excitement
• Hope
• Impatience
• Intimidation
• Scepticism
• Uncertainty

Definitely a hotbed of mind activity!

The psychology of waiting

Business management expert David Maister explains that anxiety levels while waiting to get started on the purpose of a visit are high.1 Think about how you feel when queueing in a store or waiting to be served in a restaurant. Even in non-stressful situations, there is a natural anxiety around waiting.

Maister put forward a ‘satisfaction with waiting’ formula: S=P-E (Satisfaction = Perception – Expectation). People have an expectation. If their perception of the wait exceeds this expectation, they are satisfied.

In his article, Maister writes about Sasser (et al) providing good examples of both managing the perception and the expectation of waiting times.2
Perception – a hotel group received complaints from guests about excessive waiting times for elevators. Mirrors were installed near where guests waited for elevators. The natural tendency of people to check their personal appearance substantially reduced complaints, although the actual wait for the elevators was unchanged.

Expectations – some restaurants give guests a waiting time more than the ‘expected time’. If people are willing to agree to wait this length of time, they are quite pleased to be seated earlier, thus starting the meal with a more positive feeling.

So, what steps can you take to improve visitor satisfaction within your commercial fit-out?

Managing visitors’ psychology through clever workplace design

Both perception and expectation are subjective and personal, but clever office design strategies can increase satisfaction.

Your reception design should be welcoming and create the best first impression of your brand. The perception that your commercial fit-out meets or exceeds their expectation is your design strategy aim.

  • The reception fit-out and office interior design can reinforce your brand image. Think about the impression you want to create. For example, your commitment to sustainability could be on show with recycled materials or upcycled furniture. If your products can be showcased well in a reception environment (e.g., if you sell digital signage or AV equipment), make the waiting time work for you!
  • Comfortable seating is a must in your reception fit-out! A variety of seating is best including ergonomic and lounge-style chairs.
  • The tidiness, cleanliness and security of the commercial fit-out can impact a potential client’s perception of the level of service or product quality they might receive. Interviewees will want to feel safe and assured that they would be proud to work here.
  • Free Wi-Fi allows people to use their smartphones liberally. Distractions such as a television, books or magazines will make time pass more quickly. Well, not literally, but as David Maister says, it’s all about perception.
  • Biophilic design elements in the office fit-out are calming, welcoming and help to relieve anxiety. Consider skylights and reflective mirrors to add more natural light. Add plants, living walls and water features to your workplace fit-out. Display sculptures or hang artwork of nature, flora or fauna. Use nature-inspired colours for feature walls, such as green or blue.
  • Before they get to reception, bear in mind that some people will have expectations about accessing your premises. Install accessible ramps or lifts from the car park and internally within the office fit-out.

Communication and technology have a vital role to play

As well as a welcoming office fit-out with appropriate distractions, communication is essential. As David Maister says:
“Uncertain waits are longer than known, finite waits.”
“Unexplained waits are longer than explained waits.”
When a visitor arrives, it is best if a welcoming human acknowledges their presence and explains how long the wait will be. If you can communicate with a visitor before arrival, let them know about parking and transport options. A smooth journey will influence their perception about the ‘wait to get started’.

Smartphone visitor management technology is great if you have a small reception area or no reception staff. People check in on approach and the relevant staff member can be waiting to greet them on arrival.

Kiosks and digital signage within your office interior design will help with efficient wayfinding. The waiting clock inside their head started ticking the moment they arrived!

Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to discuss workplace design and fit-out strategies that will improve your visitors’ waiting experience.

2. Sasser, W.E., J. Olsen, and D.D. Wyckoff (1979), Management of Service Operations: Text, Cases and Readings. New York: Allyn and Bacon. Cited on above web page.

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