Facility managers have a multitude of duties. From trying to decipher more energy efficient building maintenance policies to keeping up with scheduled repairs and revisions, there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done. However, it could be said that one of the most critical duties pertains to building security. Making sure who is entering and exiting the building is essential. The facility and its occupants must feel safe and secure in order for a proper operational infrastructure to be applied.
Traditionally speaking, it can be hard to really feel safe when the only measure of visitor security is a small sheet of paper that people use to “check-in”. The quintessential visitor log-book, or sign-in sheet, has been at the forefront of front desks for years. While it might not seem like it holds much power, this has been the only way to ensure facility managers know who is within a building at any given time. Relying on an antiquated sign-in sheet is detrimental to your facility’s operations for a number of reasons:
Overlooked by visitors. The guest might feel like they don’t need to write their name upon entry. Perhaps the front desk person was there to say hello as soon as they stopped by, making them feel like they’ve already “checked-in”. In the event that this happens, it will be incredibly hard to locate a record of their visit later on.
Fake names may be used. Yes, it happens. There are times when a guest may utilize a fake name to gain entryway into the building. If the visitor doesn’t want to use their real name to alert management that they are in the building; it’s safe to assume that they probably shouldn’t be in there to begin with. This is a prime example of when it would be best to have a more updated, technologically advanced version of the traditional sign-in sheet on hand.
Handwriting is illegible. Sometimes it can be near impossible to decipher someone’s handwriting. This might not be a trick on the visitor’s part, but even still, it can create security problems if the facility manager can’t identify who logged into the building.
There might not be someone at the front desk. At present, the only way to make sure a visitor doesn’t slip by the sign-in sheet is to have someone present at the front desk. However, there will certainly come a time when that person has to briefly step away from their post – giving the unattended (and unannounced) guest an opportunity to enter the building.
With the myriad of issues that come with the traditional sign-in sheet outlined, it should be exceptionally clear that a better alternative should be in place. Now facility managers have the option of implementing ground-breaking technological solutions for visitor management.
There’s a New Sign-in Sheet in Town
The new wave of sign-in sheets is usually an app or program housed within an iPad that records visitors from invitation to check out. Signing in for a guest is as straightforward as the visitor tapping the correct right name showed, which then alerts the host to his or her guest’s entry. Most guest enrollment applications are also equipped with the capacity to print out customized guest identification badges. In addition, the process of monitoring a guest doesn’t just happen when they check-in, but before they’ve even entered the building.
An example scenario of how one might use this technology is: as soon as the decision to have a meeting has been made, the host has the ability to send an automatic invite that includes every visit detail, including directions and a map, to get to the building. On the day of the visit, the guest receives a friendly text message alert that their meeting will still be occurring.
Both visitor and host benefit from this evolution of the old sign-in sheet. For guests, the ability to swiftly find the meeting area, understanding where the meeting will take place and when, and getting continuous reminders and updates about the process are incredibly useful. For hosts and office directors, knowing when a guest has arrived and having the capacity to monitor them in the building is priceless. Additionally, many of the visitor management software options available will send a summary of the visitor to the host before he or she arrives. This can include their LinkedIn profile, recent press materials, and any other key actualities that would be useful for the host to know ahead of time. Rather than feeling caught off guard for the meeting, the host will feel empowered.
How to Make Your Front Desk More Tech Savvy
It’s now time to update that front desk with the latest and greatest in visitor management software and technology. Here’s how facility managers can easily implement these services into an already existing space:
Understand your needs. It’s important to think about what types of problems you are looking to improve. For example, has your facility struggled with security in the past? What about guest coordination and/or management? There might be a reason to introduce an updated guest monitoring experience if there have been any such issues in the past.
Look into available solutions. With a multitude of products out there, the facility manager should put in ample research time before choosing the best visitor management solution. Some will be more tailored to security improvements, while others will be best suited towards improving the visitor experience. It all depends on the building’s particular situation.
Determine how easy implementation will be. Understanding how simple it is to upgrade to a technologically advanced check-in solution is critical. Will it be easy for a facility manager to do alone, in a day? Or, is it something that will require the building to go through ample repairs and upgrades before the service is ready to be used. These are important questions to ask when deciding which product to use.
Make sure to do tests. As with most new things, there will probably a grace period before everything runs smoothly. The facility manager should train the front desk person on how to use the new software and make sure they understand its importance. It might be useful to keep the old sign-in sheet on hand while the person is still being trained so that guests still have a back up means of checking-in.
Try different options. With the variety of products out there, you might not choose the perfect solution right off the bat. Some problems might even become more evident once the traditional sign-in sheet is removed. After going through preliminary testing it becomes obvious that the building’s demands are not being properly met, it’s perfectly alright to try a different solution. Identifying the perfect solution can take some time but by no means is it a failure on the facility manager’s part if another visitor management solution needs to be tested.
Beyond the Front Desk
Some of the largest and most well known companies like Audi, Black & Decker, AirbnB, and more already have a technologically advanced “sign-in sheet” waiting for their visitors at the front desk. In addition to fostering a better front desk experience, these visitor management software systems have the ability to completely redefine and improve the office atmosphere. There are currently many kinds of software available that offer a way to visually track a guest as soon as they walk into the building. This “person of interest” facial recognition software may sound like something from the future but it’s currently being implemented in buildings across the globe. The security benefits that come along with this type of technology are immediately evident.
There’s another kind of visitor software that looks for available free space in the building as well. If a meeting room on the first floor is overcrowded, for example, this platform will direct a new visitor to a free room for the meeting to be held. It’s an easy way to give hosts a piece of mind.
On a daily basis a facility manager is tasked with duties that are incredibly challenging. The recent advances in technology have thankfully provided a solution to some of the more difficult responsibilities, like visitor management and security. If the ability to manage visitors more effectively was an option, facility managers could focus more of their energy on alternative projects. With so many things to do and so little time to do them, the biggest challenge for a facility manager might be finding a solution that helps them in all aspects of their work.
About Gregory Blondeau, Co-Founder & Director of Proxyclick
As co-founder of one of the first cloud-based visitor management solution on the market, Gregory helped develop Proxyclick from an idea to an award winning robust solution that PepsiCo, L’Oréal, Acer, Audi, Bosch… and many other smaller businesses use globally. Consistently receiving high marks for easy implementation and being highly user intuitive, businesses entrust their visitors’ experiences and their facilities’ security to Proxyclick’s web-based visitor management solution.