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Physical health and safety systems growing in importance as employees head back to offices

Visitor management systems have moved from a nice-to-have to a must-have during the pandemic, said VMS provider Traction Guest.

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As workers head back to offices, physical safety has become of paramount importance, and visitor management systems (VMSes) have moved from a convenient “nice-to-have” pre-COVID-19, to a must-have. VMSes will play a critical role in driving best practices for employee and visitor safety in the workplace, according to provider Traction Guest.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Ensuring company and employee safety as businesses reopen requires more than just temperature checks and redesigning the office space to meet social distancing requirements, Traction Guest said. In a July survey, the company said that 92% of security and risk management professionals agreed that physical security is of greater strategic importance than ever.

Not surprisingly, 85% of respondents to the Traction Guest survey said their physical health and safety in the workplace is a greater consideration now than before the pandemic, the company said. 

Only 4% of employees reported that their company’s facility is fully touchless, meaning 96% of employees are still required to touch surfaces and devices just to enter their place of work, according to the survey. These include door handles (82%), access control systems like keypads (46%), elevator buttons (43%), and sign-in devices or kiosks (31%).

People and risk management is hard, the company said. While places like construction sites and movie sets have staff and visitors sign in daily and fill out forms before receiving credentials, “If you visit a site as contractor, you don’t want to have to do the same thing every day,” such as sign a non-disclosure agreement, watch a training video, capture your driver’s license, or scan your business card, said Keith Metcalfe, CEO of Traction Guest.

The cloud-based VMS makes the process more efficient with features like zero touch sign-in, pre-registration and screening portals, and QR code scanning, he said.

The Traction Guest survey found that respondents who said they have to touch a sign-in device or kiosk upon entry were also the most likely (67%) to say that touchless sign-in technology would make them feel more comfortable returning to their physical worksite, the company said. 

Traction Guest’s system incorporates centralized visit data into Salesforce, along with the ability to create custom and third-party watchlists, Metcalfe said. “Our focus is on a safe and secure visit,” he said.

In addition to physical safety, health and wellness have become of greater concern for organizations today. Traction Guest is designed to help security guards and receptionists and anyone responsible for business continuity enforce policies for employees returning to work. The system can manage deliveries and location capacity in real time in a contactless process, the company said.

The company said Traction Guest can also send emergency mass notifications.

SEE: Video teleconferencing do’s and don’ts (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The VMS also provides a centralized system of record so organizations will know who has been in on a particular date, Metcalfe said.

The app was designed to be low code “so people can build their own apps without being coders,” he said. It can be customized to a specific site and downloaded to a kiosk.

Organizations “want to know who’s coming in and make sure they’ve entered in health information, like do they have a fever, are they wearing PPE? Do they know they need it?” he said.

A lot of customers have regional requirements on reporting and can build in logic that says if an employee or visitor has had an infection they are not welcome, Metcalfe added.

If an employee is expecting a visitor, they can send out a customized template with documents in advance that the company requires to be signed so the person can pre-register, he said. The visitor is sent a QR code, which they scan into an iPad when they arrive, so they don’t have to sign anything or watch a video, Metcalf said. “The employee you’re there to see gets a notification, and they can either see you or say they don’t want to. It’s a simple flow.”

Metcalfe said Traction Guest, which is targeted at large organizations, has seen a huge spike in sales since the pandemic began. “May was our first best month in a quarter in company history,” of almost five years, he said.

The VMS is used in more than 30 industries, he said. The cost is per device but averages out to be between $2,000 and $3,000 a year, Metcalfe said.  

Traction Guest said it did a two-part survey in June of 300 employees and 300 enterprise risk management, physical security, and facilities management professionals in companies with at least 1,000 employees.

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