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Welcoming Reception Area Ideas for Small Offices

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

When you’ve got minimal office space to work with, you need to get creative in how it’s used. On one hand, having a reception area may seem like a waste of precious space. On the other hand, it’s an important component of a customer-facing business. Thankfully, there are more than a few reception area ideas to make the most out of this space—especially when there’s not much of it to go around.

Make the most of corners

Designing a small reception area means making use of every square inch—including corners. Corners are typically eschewed during design in favor of more focal aspects of the room, such as the reception desk or chairs gathered around a coffee table. But corners offer valuable space.

Instead of leaving corners empty or trying to hide them with a potted plant, unlock their potential with a small coffee table, lamp, and comfortable chairs. Take advantage of the 90-degree angle with an L-shaped ottoman. A corner bookshelf with décor goes a long way toward making your waiting area more inviting.

A little light goes a long way to brighten a reception area

Lighting is important in a waiting area. If you have windows, let the natural light in. Sunshine will open up and brighten a small reception area, making it seem much bigger. If your reception area is closer to the building’s center, make the most of overhead lighting and fixtures.

When it comes to artificial lighting, there’s no shortage of options. Corner lamps are a smart use of space, while a simple chandelier makes a great statement piece. Use LED or CFL bulbs to provide more of a neutral brightness.

Create a balance with lighting. Too bright and you’ll give visitors (and reception staff) a blinding headache. Too dim and you’ll give off a cavernous vibe. In smaller offices, light balance plays a big role in comfort.

Minimalist furniture makes a reception area statement

In any reception area, furniture is the biggest impact on space. Reception desks, chairs, and tables take up square footage. The key to making small office reception design work is to minimize the impact of furniture. In other words, think small.

Avoid larger pieces. The huge leather armchair may be great for a prestigious law office, but it’s not ideal for a 200-square-foot reception area. Likewise, stick to individual, modular pieces. A few simple chairs, a long minimalist bench, and a couple of well-placed tiny tables should be comfortable enough for guests.

Unless you have a specific need for a large reception desk, downsize. Smaller options free up space. If this isn’t possible, consider a more conforming style of desk, such as a rounded installation or a corner-hugging desk. As for big coffee tables… get rid of them. They neutralize the space. What’s more important: Your guests or your magazines?

Hug the perimeter

Even the most minimalist furniture choices can take up a lot of space in a smaller reception area. Get the most of every inch by using the perimeter. Leave the middle of the space open and free. Not only does this improve mobility, it makes the space feel bigger.

But that does mean lining chairs and benches along the wall—not aesthetically pleasing. Introduce a little variation around the perimeter. Chair, chair, coffee table, chair, plant, bookshelf along the wall is more appealing than seven chairs. Similarly, interspersing different types of seating with various features and fixtures will add depth, dimension, and a dynamic feel to the space. The idea here is to make it seem more like relaxing than waiting.

Décor influences atmosphere-especially in a reception area

Décor has a huge impact on space utilization—especially in smaller areas. For example, hanging a mirror on the far wall of a long waiting room immediately opens the area up and adds depth. In the same way, adding plants reflects a more natural appeal.

Consider every type of décor when planning an office reception area design—floor, walls, countertops, and ceiling, to be specific. Next, plan a theme that’s conducive to comfort while also maintaining the personality of your business. Finally, pay attention to “décor density” and try not to make the space feel cluttered. The right decorations can expand a space’s feel and add appeal; too many and they’ll have the opposite effect.

Make it about the visitor

Designing your office space to fit within the confines of limited square footage can seem like an impossible task. The key is to break it down into individual components and stay true to the core focus: accommodating the people who use this space. Make the most with what you have, but focus on the visitor. Your reception area is your business’ first impression. Make it a good one.

Small office reception area idea checklist

Before you dive into a redesign of your office’s reception area, follow this checklist and plan ahead. You’ve got limited space to work with and you want to make the best possible impression. Here’s how:

  1. Measure your office, so you know exactly how much space you’re working with
  2. Consider every aspect of the office
    • Entryways and exits
    • Reception desk
    • Windows
    • Corners
    • Available space
  3. Make the most of corner space and other awkward areas
  4. Install and balance proper lighting
    • Natural
    • Overhead
    • Corner
    • Tabletop fixtures
  5. Choose flexible furniture and make the most of positioning it
  6. Arrange from the perimeter, moving inward
  7. Choose the right décor for comfort and branding
  8. Design with the visitor in mind

You may have limited space in your reception area, but that shouldn’t limit your ability to design a comfortable, accommodating space. Understand what you’re working with and plan elements that accentuate the area, instead of being constrained by it. Remember, your reception area is the best opportunity to make a great impression.

Keep reading: what to look for in an office space design tool.

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What are Digital Signage and Wayfinding Kiosks?

By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
SpaceIQ

Wayfinding has always been an important part of large workplaces. Picture huge skyscrapers with ornate directories in the atrium or sprawling corporate campuses with “You are Here” signage posted throughout. And while the spirit of wayfinding lives on in workplaces today, the execution has changed. Digital signage and wayfinding kiosks are the high-tech guideposts keeping workplace visitors in the know about where they are and how to get to where they’re going.

What are wayfinding kiosks? What is digital signage? Why are these installations better than classic signs or directories? Like most modern workplace features, it comes down to technology and the benefits it affords.

The age of interactive wayfinding systems

Digital signage and wayfinding kiosks are supplanting static counterparts for many reasons—not least of which is connectivity. Facilities managers can instantly configure digital signage, just as easily as guests can interact with it. Wayfinding devices themselves are assistive technologies for both company and visitors.

Simplicity

Wayfinding signage and information kiosks in the workplace provide instant assistance for those who need help finding their way.

Take a college campus, for example. You wouldn’t walk into the middle of a lecture to get directions to the Student Union. An interactive wayfinding kiosk makes plotting a course easy and instantaneous. Walk up to the kiosk, select “Student Union” from an options list, and voilà! Detailed directions. No anxiety about finding the right person to ask. No landmark-style directions to follow. Just a simple, straightforward point-to-point solution.

Accessibility

Digital wayfinding enables much more than point-to-point directions. It incorporates variables that static signage can’t. For example, digital information kiosks can be combined with company directories to help visitors find people, not just rooms. Menus offer multiple search options, such as company departments, amenities, rest rooms, and exits.

Integration

It’s easy to make interactive wayfinding systems part of a larger integration. Connecting them to communication platforms such as Slack enables automatic room booking and meeting reminders, in addition to providing directions or room information. In this way, wayfinding technology blends physical workplace oversight with digital management.

There’s also the inverse to consider. Digitally booking a conference room or private workspace pushes that information to the interactive wayfinding kiosk outside of that room. Anyone checking room availability via its kiosk will immediately be able to see its occupied or vacant.

Consistency

Managing rooms with unique identifiers is also easier. Room names are programmed into wayfinding signage. Example: CONF A. As employees book rooms and send invitations to others, CONF A becomes the sticking point. Visitors know what room to look for and where to find it when they arrive. And, if the nomenclature ever changes—CONF A becomes CONF B—there’s no need to replace signage. Changing the name centrally pushes it out to all wayfinding devices, making the transition seamless.

The hardware side of digital wayfinding

Digital wayfinding relies on hardware to make it accessible. The interactive wayfinding screens and signs are the modern-day equivalents to lines on the floor or placards outside rooms. Take a look at the physical elements of modern digital wayfinding:

  • Room screens: Placed outside rooms, these screens provide information such as room name, bookings, availability, and AV capabilities. They also identify the room.
  • Wayfinding kiosks: Best situated in atriums and building entryways, kiosks are the “You are Here” signs of the future. More than telling people where they are, wayfinding kiosks interactively provide information about the building, floor maps, staff directories, and instructions on finding a destination.
  • Digital signage: These overhead or wall screens or scrolling strips provide real-time information. Think of them like airport terminal boards, displaying flight information and notifications. The same can be applied for campuses with events that change regularly.
  • Smartphones: What would the age of digital wayfinding be without a map and GPS directions in your pocket? From microsites, company-specific apps, and SMS directions, smartphones bring digital wayfinding to the mobile realm. This also extends to tablets and mobile AV carts.

Tying everything together digitally

Wayfinding kiosks and digital signage are the front-facing projection of digital wayfinding. The information and the way it’s displayed are managed in the cloud, part of a networked ecosystem that’s only growing larger.

At its core is a Computer-Assisted Facility Management (CAFM) platform (read more on what is CAFM). It’s a facility manager’s best friend for pushing updates to the wayfinding signage network. A CAFM platform also serves as the integration hub for other collaborative technologies such as messaging platforms, booking software, and facilities automation. And, it’s the central system of record for linking oversight to execution.

Digital wayfinding is an instrumental part of making a workplace more accommodating. The larger the facilities and the more visitors it welcomes, the higher the demand for wayfinding kiosks and signage. With the conveniences it offers, digital wayfinding is an investment well worth making.

Keep reading: what is a digital workplace.

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What is a Digital Workplace and What Makes it Run?

By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

Every company uses technology to do business. Whether you’re Mac or PC, laptop or desktop, wired or wireless, digital technology is central to your interaction with the workplace. But simply using these technologies doesn’t make your workplace a digital one. So, it begs the question: “What is a digital workplace?”

A true digital workplace is one that not only utilizes technology, it’s governed by it. Examples of digital workplace technologies include automated lights, networked wayfinding systems (read more on what is wayfinding), and connected workstations.

Having a digital printer in your workplace doesn’t make it a digital workplace. Being able to print a cloud-hosted document from three floors away and sending a heads-up on Slack to someone on that floor is what makes your workplace digital.

More than convenience, a digital workplace solution is a necessity

Demand for digital workplace solutions is only growing. And it’s not just about convenience—it’s about keeping up with the ever-increasing pace of work.

Think about the time saved in the example above. Leaving their desk, traveling three floors to pick up a piece of paper, and taking it to someone else equates to precious minutes an employee could spend doing something else. More importantly, it doesn’t disrupt the workflow. The start-stop-start interruption of getting up breaks concentration. Worse, it can lead to costly errors. Inevitably, it’s a drain on productivity.

The digital workplace is also about doing more with less—and accomplishing more, faster. Automation and adaptability are crucial aspects of a digital workplace. Programming “if this, then that” algorithms into digital workplace connected components unlocks boundless opportunities. Best of all, these action-reaction triggers govern themselves, taking the responsibility off employees’ shoulders.

And there’s no accounting for costs saved. It’s nearly impossible to measure the dollars and cents saved via automation and real-time technologies. Good facilities’ managers can calculate cost figures on the direct impact of smart technologies, but secondary and tertiary benefits generate their own savings.

Examples of digital workplace innovation

The benefits of the digital workplace make themselves instantly apparent. Take a look at a few examples and their benefits:

Room booking

Group A wants to use the third-floor conference room from 3-4 p.m. on Tuesday. Group B already has it booked from 2-5 p.m. that day. Group A submits their request to booking, which comes back instantly as unavailable. So, the group starts a message on Slack to determine a better time. They agree on 10-11 a.m. They send a message from Slack to the booking software, which returns a confirmation and blocks off that time. Monday night, everyone gets an email reminder about their meeting the next morning, with wayfinding instructions to the third-floor conference room.

Desk allocation

Company X has 12 remote workers and four hotel desks. Jack, a remote worker, decides to work from the office on Monday. He checks in with the facility manager, who checks the hotel desk schedule. All four desks are full. But the facility manager can see there’s a small office unoccupied on the second floor. Jack goes up to the office and, by the time he gets there, he has an SMS message with the login information for that workstation, phone extension, and the Wi-Fi password.

Space utilization

Company Y needs to slim down its office. Using data from occupancy sensors, it’s able to tell how often various spaces are utilized. Coupled with data from hotel desk booking software and space utilization metrics from an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), the facility manager and real estate manager create a new floor plan that requires less space—without cutting back elsewhere. Then, they generate a relocation plan using the new floor plan, Slack messaging, Trello boards, and weekly meetings.

Access control

Every employee at Company Z gets an access badge. Badges are centrally managed by the facility manager, who controls permissions. Amanda was recently promoted and now, instead of working on the fifth floor, she works on the sixth. She now has access to the parking garage, as well as the executive break room. The facility manager receives the promotion notification from Human Resources and changes Amanda’s permissions. When Amanda swipes her card the next day, everything works as it should.

Beyond digital workplace examples

The above examples are only a few digital workplace possibilities. The more connected technologies, the more opportunities. And, with the growing Internet of Things (IoT), there’s no shortage of devices for increasingly digital workplaces.

Smart sensors, beacons, network hubs, and wearable devices are spreading like wildfire into workplaces around the world. They’re accompanied by software, apps, algorithms, and entire ecosystems that bridge the gap between the physical world and the digital one. They present data—for better decision-making—as well as ways to act on these decisions.

Quantifying the workplace makes it better, but it takes the right technologies and insights. The further into the digital workplace a company immerses itself, the clearer these realizations become. Each new addition to the digital ecosystem is one step closer to a fully optimized workplace.

Keep reading: the best office layout for productivity