Nearly every office hosts visitors many visitors of different types over the course of each day – business partners such as clients and vendors, hybrid and remote employees, job candidates, and delivery personnel. While having visitors to your office is a sign of a healthy company, your company needs a way to manage their presence that is consistent and clear.
What Is a Visitor Policy and Why Is It Important?
A visitor policy is a procedure that is put in place to keep track of the people who are coming to your office. When you know who will be in your office, you can mitigate potential risks to your employee’s safety and productivity as well as your company's work and intellectual property. You can also help ensure that their interactions with your company are as smooth and as productive as possible.
A good visitor’s policy should achieve the following goals:
- Preserve safety and compliance: A visitor policy is key to the safety of your company, your employees, and your visitors. Consider the features of the best visitor management systems, like capturing visitor photos, printing badges, taking digital signatures on legal documents, checking visitors against a watchlist, evacuation notifications, and much more. It also helps ensure your compliance with any internal, state, or federal government regulations.
- Minimize disruptions: By managing your visitors professionally and efficiently, you can help ensure that your employee’s productivity isn’t disrupted by any unnecessary interactions. You can also help your visitors make the best use of their time by helping to ensure that their meetings are well scheduled and that any needed supplies and resources are available.
- Create a positive visitor experience: Your visitor’s policy is the best tool to help you ensure that each visitor’s experience is as pleasant and efficient as possible for everyone involved. Unfortunately, unpleasant interactions are remembered better than pleasant ones, so creating and maintaining a positive visitor experience is very important. When a strong visitor policy is put into effect, it can be the start of a win/win situation.
What Should Your Visitor Policy Include?
Your visitor’s policy doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be clear and employees need to be informed. In other words, everyone that works on your premises should know generally what your policy says, where to find it in case they need to refer to it. And everyone should follow it.
Your visitor policy should include the following guidelines:
- Simple and Direct Sign-in Procedure: An effective visitor’s policy begins when the visitor signs in. Traditionally, the visitor would meet the receptionist, announce themselves, and be invited in for their meeting. A live receptionist can present a friendly, professional face for the company, but relying on an individual for visitor management has a number of drawbacks:
- You Have to Hire a Receptionist: It’s well-documented that there is a talent shortage today. The average time to hire is currently 36 days. And once hired, over one-third of newly hired employees look for another job within the first six months of employment.
- Your Receptionist Won’t Always Be Available: Anyone you hire will need to use the restroom, have an urgent task that must be completed, or will be otherwise unavailable with greeting visitors.
- Receptionists May Not Know About Schedule Changes: Appointments are often created, or changed, without notice to the receptionist. Worse, the receptionist may not know that a frequent visitor is no longer a welcome guest. This not only results in disruptions to your business but can also create embarrassing situations.
While there are workarounds for every receptionist drawback, there is a better solution – a visitor management system. A visitor management system is always available, easy to use, and has more complete visitor information than a human receptionist.
- Identification Requirements: Every visitor must be documented and easily identifiable. To document the visit, each visitor should sign into a logbook. While a traditional logbook will record the date and time of the visit, we can now use technology to track visitor data and quickly access those records when needed. This data can be especially helpful for sales and marketing.
Technology has also improved visitor badges. Gone are the days of the “Hi! My name is ______” sticker on a visitor’s shirt or jacket. We can now immediately print visitor’s badges that include names, photos, and the purpose of the visit. These badges can be tracked to make sure that the visitor is in the right place at the right time. Visitor badges can be created with an expiration date for convenience and security. For example, a contractor who will be on-site for an extended period won’t need to have their visitor badge re-issued every day they’re on-site, and someone making a sales call won’t be able to re-use their temporary badge for unscheduled office visits.
- Authorized Access: Not all visitors should have the same access, but all visitors should have the access they legitimately need. Your visitor policy should make it clear which areas will have limited access. Automated visitor badges can be effective in limiting access to sensitive areas.
- Maintaining Company Security: Your employees are an important part of your company's security. By clearly identifying visitors, your employees can see when a visitor may have gotten lost or be in need of some assistance. Encourage your employees to reach out to any visitors who seem like they might be in the wrong place, and remind your employees that if they see some suspicious activities, they should contact security.
Your computer network is another area that should have controlled access. Work with your IT department to set up ways to identify visitors who should have network access and what kind of access they should have. Your team can help develop ways for visitors to access the network safely and securely.
- Enforcement: Every visitor policy needs to be enforced. It’s unlikely that there will be a single solution to every difficult situation that’s encountered, so the time is now to work with your managers, your security team, and your facilities team on how to handle the different scenarios that may come up.
How to Implement Your Visitor Policy
Once you’ve developed your visitor policy, you will need to publicize it and begin training your employees.
- Provide Documentation of the New Visitor’s Policy: Be sure to send a notification of the new policy to all employees and any business partners who are likely to be frequent visitors. Details about the visitor’s policy should be included in your Employee Handbook or Code of Conduct. Be sure to update any signs posted near your visitor’s entrance.
- Training: Employee training will be vital to ensure the success of your visitor’s policy. Every employee and contractor should be made aware of your visitor’s policy during their onboarding. It should also be included as part of their ongoing employee development
- Updates to Your Policy: From time to time, your visitor’s policy will need to be updated. Each update should be well documented and distributed to all of your company’s employees and frequent visitors.
Having a strong visitor policy is a great way to make sure your visitors have productive, positive visits to your company. By developing a strong visitor policy, you can mitigate any security risks and keep the emphasis on business development.