As employees approach a full year of remote work due to COVID-19, burnout is rife. More than two-thirds of workers have experienced symptoms of burnout while working from home, and many crave a return to the normalcy of office life. While the current surge in cases is likely to keep office doors closed for a time, some offices may consider a limited reopening once the spike is under control. But how to do so safely, with rollout of a safe vaccine still many months away?
Companies need to proceed carefully. A quarter of U.S. workers have considered leaving their jobs due to concerns related to the pandemic. A rushed or poorly planned reopening could erode morale and increase turnover. In an office context, organizations not only have to enforce health checks and other measures among their own employees, but also among building guests, which may add an additional layer of risk.
Even if your organization doesn’t immediately return to pre-COVID capacity numbers upon opening, you can start planning now for the influx of employees and visitors by implementing modern visitor management systems. By proactively monitoring guest and tenant access and assisting in COVID risk assessment, these systems can help ensure a safer return to the office while also bolstering building security for the long term.
Digital capabilities streamline check-in and support social distancing
The need for modern visitor management predates the pandemic. As organizations become more decentralized, with facilities scattered across more countries and regions, traditional pen-and-paper sign in processes have become inadequate to ensure security. Modern cloud-based visitor management systems leverage digital technology to keep up-to-date records, speed up sign-in and manage guest access to secure areas while also providing streamlined experiences to both hosts and guests.
Many modern visitor management capabilities that increase convenience and ease of use also enable social distancing and other COVID-19 measures. For example, instead of requiring a guest to stand in line at the front desk — a situation that can lead to crowding and potential exposure — a host might opt to email a guest a QR code in advance of their visit, which the guest can then scan at a kiosk to check in instantly.
COVID-19 risk assessments can also be incorporated into the kiosk check-in process. Guests can be prompted to answer questions about symptoms or potential exposure on a tablet before receiving access, reducing the risk of exposure for front-desk staff. With a cloud-based visitor management system, this information — along with other data collected during the sign in process — becomes part of a centralized record, supporting transparency and compliance.
Mobile passes and IDs reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread
The ability to issue digital mobile passes and mobile corporate IDs is another important capability of a modern visitor management system during a pandemic. While the risk of catching COVID-19 from contact with surfaces is relatively low — most spread occurs through the air, while people are in close proximity — taking precautions to reduce surface contact still adds another layer of defense. With mobile passes and IDs, employees and guests can use their mobile devices to access the building, reducing the need for physical card issuance and the risk of COVID-19 spread from surfaces like door handles.
Mobile visitor passes for building guests can also seamlessly incorporate security limitations and access for non-tenants. For example, a pass can be programmed to allow access only to specific doors and to expire after a set period of time, ending the guest’s access. This capability not only helps keep facilities secure, but also lets you control the flow of visitors and employees through the building, supporting best practices for social distancing. Front desk personnel can also manage access and track visitor activity in real time via customizable dashboards.
While mobile passes and IDs may first come into use as a COVID-19 measure, their convenience and versatility make them a worthwhile permanent addition to your visitor management capabilities. The flexibility to issue them alongside physical ID cards will benefit your organization long after the pandemic subsides.
While this long period of remote work has been a challenge for many, it’s also an opportunity for organizations to rethink and reboot outdated office processes. Investing in modern visitor management systems now will help ensure a safe and steady return to in-person work by supporting social distancing, enabling access control and reducing surface contact. More importantly, these systems will also improve transparency, security and flexibility for your organization in the long term.