What is the ideal modern post office layout? It’s a question many posts are grappling with, especially as some core transaction categories, such as stamp sales and over-the-counter bill payment, have matured.
An old-style post office, with intimidating queues, dull fit-out, faded posters, and patchy retail offering simply won’t do in the 21st century. Let’s face it - that style of post office was outdated in the 1990s!
Let’s have a look at the public space of the latest refitted post office from Lietuvos Paštas (Lithuanian Post). Some highlights:
Counter area. There is no “fortress” between staff and customers. There’s a shelf on the customer side of the counter for customers to place their handbags or satchels while being served.
Queue management. With five counter positions, a good queue management system is critical. If one serving position can handle ID transactions, for example, then customers are routed to that serving position rather than the general queue. Customers are free to roam the store and browse the retail range while waiting. The layout of the store is important here to facilitate browsing.
In-store retail. The retail offering is low-key, with books, magazines, stationery, packaging, and a limited range of gift lines. For state-owned postal operators, stocking non-postal retail lines in-store can be a sensitive topic! Perhaps something for a separate blog post or podcast episode…
Light source. There is plenty of natural light in the office. This makes it pleasant for customers and staff. The angle of sunlight entering the store is a key design and layout concern - staff must never have the sun in their eyes while working.
Staff comfort. Staff can either stand while serving at the counter or sit on adjustable swivel chairs. Another option here is to have cushioned rubber matting (there are various types available) at the counter, making it easier on staff members who are standing for extended periods.
There are plenty of other considerations when designing a post office, including security, parcel handling and storage, customer flow, positioning promotional posters, and more.
Ultimately, the post office has to meet customers’ needs, be a welcoming place for staff to work, and be profitable.
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