Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor to your office. Perhaps it is a potential key client, the hot recruit you are trying to impress or your significant other visiting you for lunch. When visitors walk into your organization's reception area, what do they experience? How comfortable are they? How efficiently do they connect with the person they are visiting?
Whether you think about it or not, this is your company's visitor management system. And it has a lot of implications for your visitors and employees. Does your visitor registration experience make guests excited to work with your firm? Do you minimize disruptions to employees who work or happen to walk by the door? The type of visitor management you choose will not only inform visitors' first impressions of your business, it also improves worker safety and data security for your company.
What is a Visitor Management System?
A visitor management system is the process you use to welcome visitors, connect them with their host and track who is in your workplace. As Rush insightfully sang, "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." If your business does not have a formal visitor management plan in place, then your company's information and staff are at risk from unwanted visitors, and your visitors are at risk if there is an emergency that requires evacuation.
Lacking a system will also lead to countless interruptions for staff members. Visitors will ask them to find their host, sign for packages or guide them to meeting rooms. If you do the math you will be surprised at the cost impact of these distruptions. A formal visitor registration process will have a great impact on your productivity, employee satisfaction and your financial bottom line.
Visitor management solutions generally fall into two categories: manual and digital.
Even as technology advances and automates, most buildings and offices continue to rely on the traditional pen and paper visitor sign in sheet. Or even a bell notifying nearby employees someone is at the door. This may appear to be the most cost-effective system in theory but can end up costing the company more in practice. When using a manual check-in option, someone needs to drop whatever they are doing in order to complete the variety of tasks required to usher the visitors into the building, including creating visitor badges and contacting the appropriate staff member. These constant interruptions can cost workers 6 hours per day, preventing them from focusing on other tasks beneficial to the company.
A manual sign-in system can also distract the rest of the office. With a large and growing number of offices configured as open workspaces, the process of manual sign-in can be disruptive to your entire staff as the receptionist walks the visitor through the steps of signing-in and calls the appropriate staff members to escort them through the office.
In addition to the time-consuming and distracting nature of manually checking in visitors, there are other concerns to take into account when using a visitor sign in sheet. A paper visitor log provides no privacy since every person who comes in and uses the same log book and can see details of those who entered before them.
Additionally, there is no easy way to access past visitor information due to variability in handwriting legibility, a lack of a searchable database, and the use of different sign-in sheets. If there is a security issue like theft or even a need to evacuate, it would be challenging to use standard sign-in sheets to find out who was in the office at any one time.
Digital Visitor Management
Just recently, reception management software has emerged. Instead of a visitor sign in sheet, guests now check themselves in using an Android or iPad sign in app. These high touch technologies are popping up at modern offices around the world. can register visitors, instantly contact staff, print visitors badges, capture eSignatures on legal documents and create a digital visitor logbook that is legible and accessible from anywhere.
Current office design trends call for the use of "self-help" visitor registration systems so employees can focus on the work that matters. By quietly and efficiently walking visitors through the steps of signing-in and silently texting or emailing staff members about the arrival of their visitor, digital visitor logs fit right in.
Especially as they become more affordable, the benefits of a digital solution far outweighs those of a manual approach, but there are still some things to consider when deciding whether to invest in one.
How to Choose a Visitor Management System
Whether your company decides to take a manual or digital approach to visitor registration, here are some factors to consider:
Workplace security is more complicated than ever. Not only do you need to keep your assets and people safe, you also need to protect your data from thieves that might be thousands of miles away.
What steps do you need to take to keep your company, its people and its information secure? Should you require that guests where visitor badges so they can easily be identified? Will visitors need to eSign a non-disclosure agreement or other legal document before you allow them to enter the property? Does your company want a blacklist of people who will not be allowed on the property, or to run a background check of everyone who checks in?
How easy is it for your staff to setup and maintain your visitor solution? How quickly can guests check themselves in?
Is your payroll expense well served by having people man the front desk or work other projects? Is an eReceptionist more cost effective at just a few dollars per day?
What will visitors think when they see your selected solution? You want to create great first impressions. That means everything should be easy and comfortable for visitors. Don't forget, not all visitors have the same preferences -- and even more importantly, don't push your preferences onto your visitors.
Visitor Management System Features
There can be many different aspects associated with visitor registration. Below is a list of features to consider when exploring front desk reception options:
- White-labeled to reflect your brand
- Customizable to accomplish all of your organization's reception needs
- Integrates with your employee list via Active Directory, Zapier or another database application
- Collects digital signatures of nondisclosure and other agreements
- Takes visitors' pictures so hosts know who to look for when they get to reception
- Creates visitor badges including company logos, visitor and appointment information, and expiration time
- Allows pre-registration of visitors and event attendees
- Notifies staff phone call, text message, email or Slack
- The visitor logbook can easily be retrieved and reviewed if necessary
A streamlined visitor registration process is essential to the image of your company. It also affects the safety or your people and intellectual property. Ultimately, this visitor management impacts your organization's bottom line.