Your visitor has arrived, been greeted, signed in and has been connected with the appropriate host. When their business at your workplace is complete, what happens? Does your guest just walk out the door? Or is your visitor required to check out?
Throughout this series, we’ve been exploring the various steps to a good visitor management system and explaining why some easily overlooked steps and processes can important. Perhaps the most overlooked step of visitor management is visitor checkout. Unless you run a medical office or are in the hotel business, most organizations don’t focus on guests checking out; guests just leave. However, there is one very compelling reason to have guests check out: security.
Your Secure Workplace
Security means protecting your people, physical assets and your data. When it comes to securing your workplace from the dangers of onsite visitors, you can’t know if a guest has left your premises unless the guest is required to check out. There are multiple security reasons for a visitor to actively check out of the location.
- Access: If a guest is given any sort of physical access capability (a key, key card or identification) it must be returned at the time of checkout. If the visitor gives it to the host and just leaves the site, then the host is responsible for returning it, and it is more likely to get lost. If the guest has been given electronic key card access, even if they don’t return the card or item, your system should register that they have left and deactivate access connected to the unreturned key card (like that pile of hotel keys you have).
- Accurate records: Knowing who was in your facility on which days at which times and for how long can be incredibly important if it is ever necessary to investigate a crime. (We’ll discuss in detail why it is important to keep these records in our final installment in this series.)
- Visual record: If all visitors are required to checkout at the same location (a security best practice), it is easy to station a staff person or a security camera to watch for anything unusual. Strange behavior, unusual bulges in pockets and other visual cues can alert staff to theft or other crimes. If the use of a camera is engaged, it can also provide the physical appearance of a person for identification in connection with a crime – whether that person is a suspect or a victim – and can provide a record of their movements and what they were wearing.
- Visitor Safety: Imagine if a visitor completed their meeting, accidentally wandered into an unused area and either got locked in or had an accident of some sort. If the visitor isn’t required to check out, how would anyone know to look for them? At the end of the day or at shift changes, it is good practice to review a visitor log and see if anyone is still in the building or has stayed far longer than is normal. (A good host will also make sure to walk a visitor who is unfamiliar with the facility to the exit!)
Methods for Checking Out
How your visitors check out will largely depend upon how they check in. If a guest is writing their name on a paper visitor logbook upon checking in, then they might be required to write the time at which they check out next to their initial signature. If you have a large volume of guests checking in and out, this may require flipping through a number of pages, and isn’t very efficient. Not to mention that every guest can see everyone else that has visited.
If you have a staffed reception desk, the receptionist or security guard may check the visitor out, taking any physical objects, like keys or key cards, at that time. The staff person might be required to update the paper or electronic log, or to ask the visitor to do so.
Pointing visitors to an iPad receptionist for checkout is probably one of the most efficient ways to have them check out. This maintains easy-to-search electronic records of the visit. It also gives visitors some active role in the check-out process. It is a signal that their business is complete and they can transition to their next task accordingly.
Summary – Checking Out Completes the Circle
Checking out of your facility is quite simply the final step a visitor ought to take before leaving your facility. With the stress of business complete, and all parties mentally recapping the visit or moving onto their next activities, it is easy to skip. Yet this important step in the visitor management process gives your organization a measure of security nearly impossible to achieve without it.