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Does your elevator keep you waiting?

Dru Brooks

We usually decide to take the elevator when we are in a hurry, so when we get stuck waiting for an elevator it feels like an eternity or even longer. You push the elevator buttons several times, but it does not seem to make the elevator any faster. You start having thoughts like, "Why is the elevator up on the fifth floor and not here?”

Much of the time we spend waiting for commercial elevators tends to feel a lot longer than it realy is.  What's up with that?


Elevator Efficiency Saves Time & Money

A study carried out by IBM showed that the annual cumulative time that office workers spent waiting for an elevator in New York city added up to over 16 years. This lost time inevidbly resulted in a loss of productivity due to all of the time waisted waiting for the elevator. 

Why do waiting times seem longer than they actually are and how have top performing companies worked to overcome these inneficiencies in operations?  Psychology, Technology and the ever improving efficeny of elevators have helped to reduce the time lost waiting on an elevator. 

The Psychology of Waiting

Research studies have found that the actual time of an individual wait has little to do with how long the wait feels. There are several psychological factors that contribute to the perception that elevator wait times are much longer than they actually are. 

  • A time that is unoccupied tends to feel longer than the time that is occupied. When you do not have something to distract yourself with, your perception of time moves slower than normal. Placing advertising near the elevator has proven very effective as you have a captive audience looking for a distraction.
  • Anxiety also plays a role in making the wait time seem longer. If you keep thinking about how you’ve put yourself in a situation that has resulted in having to wait for an elevator or envisioning the consequences of being late ultimately adds anxiety and a focus on your time waiting.
  • Waits that are uncertain appear to be longer than waits with a definitive end time. Just thinking about how long it will take for the elevator to come to you makes it all feel even longer.
  • If you're alone awaiting an elevator, you will feel the wait to be longer than it actually is. The more people you engage with outside an elevator, the less you will notice the length of time you are truly waiting.

Elevator Technology Reduces Wait Times?

Properties in New York City, as well as New Jersey, where elevator use is common place have taken steps to reduce the impact of wait times for their staff as well as visitors. Some actions use cutting edge technology while others simply appease our psychology and reduce the perception of time passed waiting for an elevator.

  • One of the fastest growing developments in vertical transportation has been the introduction of Destination Dispatch, which assigns a rider to a specific elevator with other guests traveling to the same floor. This helps to greatly reduce wait times, improves property flow, manages access points & ultimately saves energy.
  • The use of mirrors on the outside of the elevator helps to alleviate the negative feelings associated with longer wait times. Mirrors tend to distract passengers and hence reduce the anxiety associated with perceived waiting times. 
  • Traditionally, elevator floor indicators, the display above the elevator door that signifies what floor the elevator is currently on, help to provide a visual cue to give scale of time & movement as the elevator passes between floors.
  • Piped in music, engaging signage and video screens are also used to distract patrons from the time spent traveling between floors or waiting for the elevator to arrive.
  • Many Properties capitalize on the down time by displaying relevant information from restaurant menus & shopping hours to local weather & news on editable video display screens inside the elevator.

Rountine Elevator Maintenance

The most efficient companies are monitoring their commercial elevator systems for Key Performance Indicators, such as increased wait times, to signal the need to service the elevator or to modernize their current elevator equipment. As a Best Practice, simply keeping your vertical transportation systems on a routine maintenance schedule will greatly increase your elevator’s efficiency and improve the user experience. 

Liberty Delivers Elevator Efficiency

Liberty Elevator is commited to improving your elevator efficiency, from installation through the end of the elevator life cycle. As an independant Family-Owned elevator contractor, Liberty Elevator understands that customer satisfaction is our #1 priority. Whether providing an elevator maintenance program, installing nonproprietary equipment, or providing a flexible agreement, Liberty Elevator offers knowledgeable recommendations for all models and vintages of elevator equipment.

Liberty Elevator proudly delivers next level elevator service across New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia & South Florida.


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Network World Article siting IBM study on elevator efficiency:  Link