A Guide to Wayfinding in the Office
For many people, they feel like they know their workplace like the back of their hand. But not everyone is so familiar with their surroundings. Very often, companies routinely have clients coming in for meetings, packages being delivered, and people coming in for job interviews and it’s important for everyone to be able to find their way around. That’s how wayfinding can help.
What is Wayfinding?
Wayfinding refers to the tools and information people use to help navigate a space. Ultimately, wayfinding can take many different forms, including traditional signage and maps, digital signage, mobile apps, and artwork that creatively helps people find their way. One common example of wayfinding would be if you’ve ever gone to a mall or an airport and stopped to look at a map on display to find the store or gate you’re looking for. Wayfinding can also be used to provide important information and messages about different areas.
Types of Wayfinding
Wayfinding falls into four main categories:
Informational: Part of wayfinding involves helping people know they’re in the right place. That’s where informational wayfinding comes in. This refers to signage which identifies specific locations. For example, many offices have more than one conference room so signs are needed to identify which one is which. That way, if a meeting is scheduled in Conference Room 3, nobody ends up in Conference Room 1 or 2 by mistake.
Identification: Their names sound alike, but there is a distinction between informational wayfinding and identification wayfinding. Informational wayfinding is more focused on specific areas while identification wayfinding is broader in nature. Identification wayfinding includes things like signs identifying things like elevators, bathrooms, and exits. This type of wayfinding tends to be found most often in places like lobbies and waiting rooms.
Directional: Directional wayfinding helps literally point people in the right direction. When there isn’t a clear direction people should be moving in, directional wayfinding can be used to help people out. Imagine that someone is looking for Suite 300 in an office building and they reach a point where a hallway goes in two directions. Directional wayfinding could be used to let people know that Suites 100-400 are to the left and 500-900 are to the right. Or, as we continue to deal with COVID-19, many companies have started using arrows on the floor as a type of directional wayfinding to encourage a one-way flow of traffic around their offices.
Regulatory: While most wayfinding is about helping people find where they need to be, it can also be used to help direct people away from places they shouldn’t be. Regulatory wayfinding can include things like “Employees Only” and “No Entry” signage, but it can also include things like “No Smoking” and “High Voltage” signs.
Why Wayfinding Matters in the Office
Wayfinding isn’t something that only benefits visitors to an office. It can help new employees get better acclimated to their new workplace and help remind more long-term employees about important information.
With many companies moving away from assigned workstations in favor of more flexible options like hot desking or hoteling, digital maps can be used to help people get an overview of how the office space is being used at a given time. Which meeting areas are available? Which parts of the office have open workstations? Which sections of the office are least crowded? High-tech wayfinding options like digital map kiosks and mobile apps can help people get answers to these kinds of questions so that they can quickly and easily find the best place for them to work.
Wayfinding doesn’t have to necessarily be utilitarian and boring. In addition to those more high-tech solutions, some companies like to get really creative with it, using things like colors, unique names, landmarks, and graphic art to help people get around.
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