The goal before Covid-19 was to maximize seating in waiting areas. Once it was determined that there should be more spacing between guests, the solution was to remove most of the seating and space out what was necessary for guests. The result was an unwelcome, disconnected waiting area.
Now with social distancing becoming more necessary, how do you design a waiting room that does not look it has islands of chairs on a sea of flooring?
Consider this: most patients come with a support person, so you could group chairs in sets of two (or a single seat for practices whose patients come alone). If you locate a 2’ end table next to the set of chairs, then a 4’ bench, then two more chairs, that gives you 6’ of space between the chairs. It is also a visual cue of social distancing. You could continue the rhythm of chairs, table, bench throughout the waiting area, respecting the corners and seats across from each other. Once we do not have to be as concerned with social distancing (hopefully not forever), guests can also sit on the benches. Below is an example of this concept that one of our current clients has embraced: continue to think outside the box! We’ve heard that patients are waiting in their cars instead of in waiting areas (that could be hot and miserable this summer!) and that practices are adjusting their schedules to limit the number of people in their waiting areas. But until we know more about this new normal, remember that first impressions are important… try to make the waiting area as welcoming and comfortable as possible, for now and for the future.