Zoom interviews may be convenient, but they just aren’t the same as in-person meetings. Interviewees have an entirely new set of things to worry about when interviews are virtual: Will my internet connection give out? Is my background okay? Is someone in my home going to unexpectedly barge into my makeshift office as I’m giving an answer? Fortunately, companies have returned to the office, which means visitors are being invited back for in-person meetings as well.
No matter how the workforce shifts, there will always be visitors. That includes cleaners, maintenance professionals, clients, and of course, interviewees. What will change is the way they are greeted, authorized, and/or validated. Currently, many workspaces and buildings are relying on a pen and paper to track and document visitors. Some have security or a front desk administrator that will check and verify identifications. But only a minority are using an online system for guest management.
Experts predict that more businesses will move towards tablets, iPads and software instead of pen and paper to log visitor information. In rarer cases, businesses responsible for managing data or sensitive material may decide to use face, eye or fingerprint recognition. But most will just be looking for a simple system that improves the way guests are processed and greeted.
The basics of visitor management
Visitor management is any process that helps an organization or business keep track of the people that come into the building or office. Visitor policies will vary by organization, facility type and industry. A high-profile company, like a bank or law firm, will generally have a more formal visitor check-in process in place, while a small agency may not have any process for managing visitors.
By documenting visitor information, companies can help keep their employees and assets safer. Safety protocols have increased as a result of the pandemic, and so have safety concerns. Implementing a visitor management system can ensure everyone who enters the workspace is cleared to do so. If a guest has caused trouble, the company will be able to make a note of that and request that the individual not be allowed entry to the building or office again.
Efficient visitor management can also help make a good first impression, or improve the guest experience for regular visitors. Instead of making guests stand around and wait for help, the person or system responsible for managing guests will make sure that the employee or company meeting with the visitor knows they have arrived.
Visitor management systems
Visitor management systems (VMS) help organizations create or execute visitor management policies. As companies continue to realize the value of visitor management, many will switch from paper sign-in sheets to a more efficient and robust digital visitor management system.
A VMS is often controlled and operated by a security guard or front desk admin, but there are systems that don’t require human oversight.
There are a variety of visitor management systems to consider, each with their own strengths and unique qualities, but since many are cloud-based software programs, they tend to be easy to install and use.
How it works
Different systems will administer different processes, but this is how many cloud-based systems will operate.
- The visitor gives the security guard or staff member their first and last name. If the visitor has been to the building or office before, their information should already be available in the database
- If the visitor is new, the staff member can indicate if this is a temporary visitor, contractor, cleaner, etc.
- Next, the person entering the data will type in who the guest is meeting with. Depending on the system, they may choose a company, or may have the ability to select an employee, too
- The company/building may require a photo of the guest. The visitor may also receive a visitor badge. Photos are saved for future reference
- The company/building may also require a signature from the guest. Signatures are saved on the system
- The employee or company will be contacted and informed of the guest’s arrival through the system, or the staff member signing the guest in will call/email the right person
- There will likely be a space for comments if additional notes are needed or special requests have been made
- Visitor preauthorization may be an option. In this case, an employee would need to speak with security or the front desk and register the visitor ahead of time
- The guest can be signed out once they leave
- If the system is not operated by a person, the guest will be responsible for completing all of the information on their own. The employee would then be notified about the guest’s arrival once all required information has been submitted. Small companies that don’t have the resources to hire an office manager or front desk admin will appreciate this option, but the downside is that there is no one available to verify that the visitor is who they say they are
How to get started with a more efficient visitor management system
Because cloud-based software systems are quick and easy to install, making the switch from paper to digital is a smooth process. The hardest part might be selecting the right program for you.
Select a system that aligns with your goals and requirements
The first thing you or your team will need to do is identify what you need from your visitor management system. Are you getting a system to enhance security? Simplify tasks for your staff? Or make better first impressions? Consider existing policies, personnel, and security systems, and look for a solution to compliment those things.
Plan for sign-ins, and sign-outs
The purpose of visitor management is not only to get visitors securely into your facility or office, but out of it too. While sign-outs don’t seem like a big deal, they do matter. Not only does it help management see how long interviews or repairs take, if there’s ever an emergency, you can use the visitor management system to see who might need extra assistance getting out of the building. If the system takes visitor photos, it’s even easier to locate guests who may require help.
Educate employees about the new system
Make sure staff know what they need to do when the new system is in place. Most won’t need to do much since they won’t be directly responsible for operating the system. However, management should send out a clear and simple “how-to” document so that employees can engage with the new system and improve the visitor experience for their guests.
Review and optimize your visitor management system
Every company is unique, and something that works for one might not work for another. Regularly evaluate your visitor management program for ineffective practices or new opportunities. Data and reports can be beneficial when trying to strategize for the future. Your needs and requirements will almost certainly change over time, so finding a system that is scalable and flexible is imperative.
Visitor management is about more than security. A good system can help your company or building make a great first impression, and that matters when trying to attract top talent or maintain important relationships. Reduce wait times, minimize miscommunication and increase safety with a flexible, user-friendly VMS.