Imagine your workplace is located in the center of a large city, like New York or Chicago, where the streets are bustling any time of the day or night. The entrance to your office is at street level, the door is kept wide open, and there is no one at the door to observe who comes in and out.

How comfortable would you feel at a workplace where strangers could come into your office off the street? How safe would you feel? How productive could you be when you're constantly looking over your shoulder for an unexpected visitor?

Instances of workplace and school violence are at all time highs, and the need for workplace security has never been greater. To protect employees and facilities, organizations of all sizes and industries incorporate visitor management systems into their security strategies.

A visitor management system tracks the visitors to your building and creates an ID card for the visitor to wear while in the building. The increased security measures put employees more at ease with their working environment, leading them to be more productive.

Organizations of all sizes and industries can easily and affordably implement a visitor management system to monitor visitor traffic in their facility by selecting an appropriate system and making minor facility and policy changes.

7 Steps to Implementing Visitor Management
1. Select a visitor management system. It's important that the system include individual visitor ID cards and create a record of facility visitors. Most visitor management systems have refills, so your options are not limited by visitor volume.

2. Implement access control. To control visitor access to your building, limit the number of public entrances. After determining your public entrance, make sure all other doors are locked. Employees can use HID cards to enter the building from those other entrances while visitors are forced to use the main public entrance.

3. Determine a location for the visitor management system. Position the visitor log-in at an entrance near visitor parking or in the main lobby. Train your gatekeeper, the individual at the entrance, to administer the visitor management system. You may want to use a receptionist or security guard to sign-in visitors and hand out visitor ID cards.

4. Train employees. Inform your employees that a visitor management system is a precaution you take to ensure their safety. Train employees how to use the system, so they can fully understand the procedure. Encourage employees to make visitors aware of the new system ahead of time for a smoother transition.

5. Explain the policy to visitors. Make visitors aware of your new visitor management policy by posting signs on entrances. The signs should direct visitors to log-in at a reception desk. If you have a large number of regular visitors, you may want to create a more permanent visitor ID card for them with a preprinted visitor card.

6. Have visitors check out. With a visitor management system, it's equally important to know when visitors enter and exit your building. Require visitors to stop by the reception after their visit is complete to turn in their visitor card and check out. Adding this procedure to your policy will give you a complete knowledge of who is in the building.

7. Increased security procedures. Depending on your organization, you may want to add increased security procedures to your visitor management policy. Require visitors to show identification when they sign in at your building to confirm their identity. You may also require visitors to be escorted in the building by an employee. This is a great way to make sure everyone in the building is accounted for.

Visitor Management in Action
Community Hospital is a 58 bed hospital in rural southwest Michigan that recently implemented a visitor management system. Even at its modest size, the hospital takes patient and employee security very seriously. To improve facility security, the hospital's security committee created a visitor management policy to identify the numerous vendors, visitors, and contractors that visit the hospital on a regular basis.

Previously, visitors were announced at the reception desk and permitted into the hospital without any form of identification. When creating the visitor management policy, the security committee wanted a visitor management system that tracked and identified building visitors.

Community Hospital stationed a Visitor Log-In System at each of the two public entrances. All visitors through the front door or emergency room doors must pass by a receptionist who asks them to sign in. The other entrances into the hospital require an HID card that is given only to employees.

The visitor management system at the hospital now requires all visitors to sign-in and wear an adhesive name badge. The name badge changes color after 24 hours to indicate that the badge has expired. More importantly, the log-in creates a record off all visitors, so the hospital can track vendors and visitors in the building.

Prior to implementing the visitor management policy, the security committee first tested the system to work through their questions and uncertainties about visitor management. They set a date to roll out the program to the entire hospital, and provided education to the receptionists, employees, and managers.

Implementing Visitor Management
A visitor management policy is an important part of your building security strategy. Visitor management serves as a gatekeeper for your facility and your people, protects your assets and provides greater peace of mind.