Updated: Mar 10
What challenges are we facing in terms of receptionist visitor management when we return to work? And how do we fix these challenges? As Oxford University announce the success of their Covid-19 vaccine trials - the third vaccine announcement in recent weeks - the world is starting to feel more hopeful of the future. Many of us are starting to think about the future again, with trepidation, and are beginning to question what the “new normal” will look like for us in 2021.
Office working is not a thing of the past; 4 of 5 employees want to return to the office in some capacity. Hybrid working is a term that is being discussed by all departments; HR, Legal, Facilities, IT and more.
This combination of home and office working seems like a great method, but how can companies encourage their employees back into the office and ensure their safety?
As the first touchpoint in the building, the reception, or front of house as we call in the industry, previously saw a high rate of traffic. Post-Covid, the first and most important challenge for your receptionist visitor management is the needs of ensuring the traffic entering and exiting the building must be managed effectively. In this blog, I’ll discuss the challenges that reception management will face as organisations begin to bring their employees back to work, and more importantly, how to remedy them.
Challenges of Front of House and Receptionist's visitor management
The list of issues the reception face while managing visitors and employees. Here are 10 common challenges that have occurred during the pandemic:
1. Government guidelines
Failure to adhere to Governmental guidance is no laughing matter. Fines and prison time can be given to company directors or those responsible for keeping the workplace safe; it’s more important than ever that workplaces meet the guidance properly.
2. Ensure workplace safety
In congested and busy reception areas, reception staff are at risk of contamination with Covid-19. Facilities Managers need to act quickly to ensure the receptionist visitor management doesnt have unnecessary queues and crowds in their working environment.
3. Visible changes
Employees are anxious of the thought of returning to work. Facilities Managers need to create a visible, long-term change in the workplace that eases staff worries and promotes safety in a positive way. HR teams are likely to be pushing for this, so it’s worth getting ahead.
Legal departments need every visitor and employee who enters the building to self-certify that they’re fit and healthy – and able to be in the workplace. Self-certification and track and trace needs to be updated and maintained thoroughly if companies want to avoid fines from HSE.
5. Decongested receptions
Receptionist's visitor management becomes extremely crucial as queues and crowds in your front of house are a sure way to ensure employees don’t return to the office, people get infected, and HSE gets wind of poor practices at your office. Facilities Managers need to ensure visitors and employees enter and exit the building safely.
6. Hazard free
Many workplaces are opting to install hazard tape, signs and screens. These methods may seem to be effective for receptionist's visitor management, but overall, they cause more harm than good. Not only are they costly and likely to end in the trash or basement in six months' time, they amplify anxiety levels for employees who now have to follow certain lines drawn in tape on the floor and read alarming signs on their way to their desks.
7. Cost savings
During this unexpected period of recession, purse strings are tightening. Finance Directors are going over proposals with a fine-tooth comb; where redundancies are looming, purchases need to be cost-effective and produce a great ROI.
8. Real time oversight of visitors
A wish list of many departments is to have oversight of who is attending the building, when they plan to arrive, and when they plan to leave. Pre-registering guests and employees leads to more productive planning and helps front of house prepare for arrivals. Facilities managers need visitor use management framework to monitor building's safety and efficiency.
9. VIP customers experience
People remember experiences and emotions. Customers visiting your office should be made to feel special, important, and valued. Receptionists and hosts being aware of a customer's arrival contributes towards those all-important sales.
10. Top class experience for employees
Similar to customers, employees expect a great experience at work. New employees will need to be onboarded into the company differently in the post-Covid era; with many people being remotely onboarded. Your receptionist visitor management plays an important role when the employee does visit the building for the first time, they receive a fantastic experience.
Do these challenges sound familiar?
They come from a variety of stakeholders, from employees, HR, Legal, and even the CEO. Dealing with all those challenges, often with conflicting objectives, can be tough for the person responsible for delivering them. So how does the Facilities Manager today cut through it and deliver a virtual reception that makes everyone happy?
How can we fix these problems?
Facilities Managers are likely to have many questions:
How do you deliver against that challenge list?
Why is important not to plan just for today, but to fundamentally re-engineer the approach?
How do you save money, but increase the visitor experience?
How do you move a fixed staffing cost structure to a variable one to match the visitor demand?
How do you retain the personal service yet decongest the reception area to avoid risk or contamination?
Traditional receptions can prove beneficial, in part due to the variable nature of visitor traffic, the need to demonstrate to employees and visitors you have a safe workplace. However, the traditional receptionist visitor management is troublesome. The drawbacks being:
Fixed front of house headcount requires cover of shifts for training, holidays, sickness or peak traffic
Lulls in traffic still require headcount
Manual tasks require a labour-intensive approach
Government guidelines amplify the need for more stringent processes like self-certification
Receptionist visitor management “game-changer” approach
An existing visitor management system like Vgreet can be extended to complement a virtual reception.
Our new partner, Moneypenny, provides virtual reception services to your visitor management solution, offering a new receptionist visitor management solution to an old problem.
Vgreet receptionist visitor management approach
Vpod have always had the voice-activated "help function" powered by its video platform "dialogue" this enables Vgreet to route calls to any location.
Now they have partnered with Vpod to extend that solution to MoneyPenny's PA teams in Wrexham, here multiple reception teams are now video dialogue enabled.
This service combination is a game-changer, digitalising receptionist visitor management. Now every reception/front of house can have a blend of services provided by digital (Vgreet) and people-based resources (Onsite personnel / Moneypenny's virtual live receptionist.
The difference being the Moneypenny service is based on minutes of PA time required, so it's a flexible model. Likewise, Vpod's receptionist visitor management can deal with the increased burden of pre-registration, self-certification in 3 seconds, decongesting the reception area and delivering a consistent VIP service to your visitors.
The “elastic digital reception” has now arrived cable of dealing with all of your front of house permutations.
The low traffic volume areas is enhanced by joining virtual office receptionist:
This could be a “spoke location” that doesn’t warrant a full-time team
It does now have customers visiting
Customers who want a VIP experience
Who would like an On Demand PA service
No need to either distract the Host to cover the fact there’s no receptionist
No need to apologise to the customer for the lack of white-glove facilities
Vgreet with the Moneypenny PA service is an ideal solution here
Vgreet enhances your receptionist visitor management by removing the single person reception or elevating them to a concierge service:
Very often a single point of failure
A cost that is needed at “peak times”, however at all times?
Do you need the staff turnover costs every six months when the receptionist moves on?
A new set of uniforms, a recruitment distraction, and interim member of your team, the training distraction to ensure they stay?
Simply remove the staff member and supplement the reception with a Concierge at peak times or go the whole hog
Multiple receptionists' receptions will alleviate pressure at peak times, removing manual processes and reducing cost:
The economies are vast, from efficiency savings from just introducing digital services removing manual processes, thus reducing headcount
To removing the need for extra staff at peak times with call traffic and video traffic flowing to Moneypenny the options are endless, the decision is simple
Whatever the motive, the "elastic digital reception" can fit the demands of every Front of House delivering an enhanced VIP service, and therefore better visitor management, introducing a more efficient service, cutting cost, increasing the visitor flow, decongesting reception areas or just improving safety. Every customer has a different set of objectives however Vpod and Moneypenny have come across most of them!
That said, as a business, we love to solve customer workplace challenges, so if you want to enhance the service, push the boundaries we are used to that too.
We are very excited to launch this combined service and add it to our solution of eco-systems that enable us to fix a growing number of customer challenges in the receptionist visitor management space.
Here’s a quick recap.
The first impression
We all know a warm welcome is important to form visitor's first impression. We move it from the traditional approach formed at front desk, to the moment they receive the invite - taking full responsibility for your visitors' timely arrival. Here are the changes you can introduce:
Extend Your brand to the invite (image)
A Google map of how to get to your address (solve finding the building)
Your host details in case you early or late (solve late or early arrival alerts)
An add to calendar quick link (ensure everything is in the diary)
Deliver a safe touchless check-in with motion sensors and voice activation
Upgrade your Host to an Express check-in with a scan of a QR code for a 3 second check-in
Notify the host instantly removing manual tasks
Pre-registration provides a safe and secure way of checking in your visitors and employees alleviating the increasing burden on front of house staff whilst delivering a consistent premium service. You can add or accommodate:
Answering a visitor Self Health Certification (alleviating return to office concerns)
Answer Any service or security questionnaire (enforcing blacklists)
All enabling a 3 second Touchless Check-in (try check-in to your building in 3 seconds!)
Alongside with all other contactless features
Facilities Managers and receptionists' visitor management face many challenges from various stakeholders as we move back to office working:
Government guidelines must be adhered to
Safe receptionist visitor management
Employees want to see a visibly improved workplace
Receptions cannot be congested, your receptionist visitor management needs evaluation
Visitors need to declare or self-certify they have no illnesses
Reception areas should not look like a hazard area with tape, screens and signs
Costs need to cut to a minimum, with every investment a seeing a return as soon as possible
Every visitor pre-registered and vetted versus a blacklist, plus every visitor escorted
The CEO wants every customer visitor to be treated like a VIP
In a post-Covid workplace, more must be done to keep staff and visitors safe. Upgrading your visitor management and implementing effective measures is crucial:
To ensure you have made very visible changes to improve safety and the experience
To signal you take employee and visitor welfare seriously, delivering peace of mind to both.
Ensuring that the two things that people do want to return to the office for both collaboration and meeting customers are impressive, consistent and efficient.
Whatever your workplace challenge we have four simple goals:
Upgrade your visitor experience
Make the journey digital and efficient
Increase Visitor and Employee Safety
Cut unnecessary costs
Read our visitor management guidelines
Learn more about visitor management techniques