Turning the Tables

Communal tables have officially made their way into the optical. Are these tech-ready tables right for your practice?

Vision Source of Farr West in Utah presents a modern space equipped with communal tables.

love them or dislike them, communal tables are trending in modern, chic interiors from cafes and coffee shops to airline clubs and hip retail locations. Now, they’re making their way into the optical, too.

“Patients often remark that our office looks and feels modern, like an Apple or Tiffany store,” says Ian Whipple, O.D., of Vision Source of Farr West in Utah. The practice moved to an updated space in spring 2018 equipped with a communal table at the reception/check-in area as well as one in the optical dispensing area, both from the Eye Designs Group.

So, should you say sayonara to traditional reception desks and conventional dispensing tables? To find out, we checked in with a few ECPs to get firsthand accounts of the craze hitting the industry’s interiors.

BENEFIT: Kicking Commercial

“[Our patients] have mentioned that they have more of a feeling of being helped or assisted [at communal tables versus] the traditional dispensing tables that feel more commercial or ‘retail,’” says Denis Humphreys, O.D., of Family Eyecare Associates. The practice implemented communal high-top tables from the Eye Designs Group in its optical styling area at its Sparks, NV, location, and in both the optical styling area and the dispensing area in its Reno, NV, office.

BENEFIT: Table Talk

Communal settings may also help kick off conversations—even between patients.

“[Something] I love about everyone sitting together is the engagement patients can have with each other,” says Arian Fartash, O.D., of Dr. Leona Landers and Associates in San Francisco. “Many times, they’ll chime in on what looks best...creating more of an optical experience rather than feeling like a sales-y pitch from opticians.”

BENEFIT: Offering Efficiency

“Because the communal table is rather tall, it is a bit more difficult for a patient to sit down,” says Dr. Whipple.

He notes that this helps make dispensing more efficient and keeps the opticians and patients eye level with each other. “This actually works quite well at dispense visits, as the opticians often dispense glasses to the patient while standing,” he says. “This speeds up the dispense process without making it feel rushed.”

Communal Wow Factor

When the first permanent Los Angeles-based Ray-Ban store opened in May at The Grove shopping and dining hub, the focal point of the store proved to be its interactive communal table. It wows with a clean look and super-futuristic appeal, as the multimedia table detects when a product is placed on its surface, displays frame info, and lights up the specific space on the wall where the style is housed.

A high-tech communal table serves as the focal point of the new Ray-Ban store in LA.

Renditions of this seemingly Space Age tech have also made their way into other optical shops, with communal tables equipped with interactive iPad stations to highlight frame information.

—Kerri Ann Raimo