While most business owners and managers think about access control as a focus relating solely to employees, there’s another factor to consider. Whether you’re inviting prospective employees for interviews, clients for meetings, or even service providers to manage unexpected repairs, all of these factors fall under the category of visitor management.
How do you properly maintain security and an awareness of who is in a facility when some of those people might not be employees? A strong access control plan has contingencies designed to address this concern. When implemented properly, your access control can be flexible enough to incorporate clearance and oversight for one or multi-day visitors.
Safety is a Priority
No matter what plan you draft for allowing visitor access, you need to keep safety central with every decision. Along with keeping employees safe, you need to also ensure that authorized guests don’t wander into areas they don’t belong — putting themselves in harm's way. Typically, authorized visitors are managed in one of two ways — escorted and unescorted.
When Escorted Protocols Make Sense
Escorted visitor protocols mean that a visitor is always accompanied by an employee. This also means that you should rarely if ever have to be concerned about a visitor wandering into areas that they don’t belong to since they’re always accompanied by a staff companion.
This can be a smart solution for small businesses with smaller facilities or a smaller employee pool that’s very hands-on with all essential operational tasks. But even larger businesses can leverage escorted protocols in select scenarios.
For example, a prospective interviewee arriving at a facility for a job interview wouldn’t be expected to show themselves to the interview room. Standard expectations are that they would introduce themselves at a front desk and then wait for the interviewer to bring them to the room.
The Benefit of Unescorted Protocols
While escorted visitor management makes sense in many scenarios, there are also times when this might not be logistically feasible. For example, what if a business has hired a general contractor to manage repairs or renovations in a specific part of the office? Who would be delegated as the escort, and how many days would this employee be forced into this role?
In this scenario, providing limited access to the key areas where the contractor needs to perform their work makes sense. This access control might mean that a passcard is issued that is coded to deactivate after a set period and potentially also regulates entry to specific predesignated areas relevant for the contractor to complete their tasks.
The upside of this method is that your business can still manage security and can verify where and when all members — both employees and visitors — are entering and exiting the building as well as traveling within the building.
Another benefit is that your employees are left to focus on key business tasks rather than also serving as unexpected security members.
The Safety Angle
Many small businesses may believe that relying on simple analog methods for visitor management, such as signing in to a visitor sheet, is sufficient. But it’s not. Along with the obvious safeguard of preventing unauthorized access by visitors to sensitive areas, there are other serious safety concerns to consider.
Analog methods for regulating authorized visitors rely on the honor system — that everyone is giving their real name and that they leave rather than loitering when their business is done. Additionally, in the event of an emergency, a list of names can’t confirm who has or hasn’t safely exited the building.
Upgrading Your Visitor Management Protocols
Even if your business doesn’t center on high-level government security clearance materials, safety is important. But that safety should be efficient. You shouldn’t be pulling staff from core functions to oversee visitor management if that’s not relevant to their tasks. A good visitor management system can be efficiently integrated into your existing access control protocols, ensuring that your business has a cohesive bird’s eye view of employee and visitor behaviors.
This ensures that people aren’t attempting to enter areas that are off-limits, and that your business and its security protocols are working at maximum efficiency. Four Walls Security can help you develop a visitor management strategy that’s compatible with your business and integrates properly into your overall security strategy.