Employees aren't the only people making their way back to the office. As operations evolve to accommodate the new normal, changes to visitor policies will become an important way to ensure everybody's safety. Managing human elements comes down to a combination of adequate planning as well as physical resources that can be adjusted according to best practices and individual mandates.

Add Acrylic Sneezeguards

Physical barriers are no-nonsense necessities that can discourage unnecessary touch, restrict items shared with reception staff, and block air any airborne pathogens from spreading across a counter. Not every reception space was originally designed with a barrier in place, but many vendors have ramped up the production of temporary solutions for added safety.

Clear acrylic sneezeguards and safety shields have already been popping up in retail, restaurant, and reception environments. While many of these solutions were initially forged from DIY pieces of plexiglass, well-designed and precision machined temporary sneezeguards have become new and important commodities.

For larger areas, choose a guard that has aluminum framing to keep the unit upright and stable at all times. There's also new wrap-around units that provide all-sides protection, as well as full-height guards that accommodate positions like valets or security guards that may not be protected by a desk at all times. Smaller units can be placed in front of narrow windows, often providing a smaller footprint for easy storage and assembly.

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Find Touch-Free Solutions

To increase the safety of your sign-in system, go for a touch-free program that can capture more than a name. Tablet or iPad apps can use voice commands to capture visitors' vital information or, thanks to easy-to-clean screens, can be disinfected more thoroughly after use. Some programs can capture photos, video, or even soundbites to provide more accurate metrics than a paper log book.

Keep these solutions on the opposite side of a reception desk and right in front of arriving guests. To ensure the security of any expensive tech, use a locked stand or anchor to keep the tablet safely in place. Tablet stands with charging ports can solve multiple problems in one, increasing visibility as well as keeping devices ready-to-run at all times.

Create Visitor Protocol

For both visitors, reception staff, and employees as well, determine a set of policies and practices that clearly communicate what's expected for outside parties. While leadership considers the new best practices for visitor management, be sure to ask reception staff what would make them the most comfortable while returning to work. Choose processes that are feasible for everybody to keep up with.

  • Do you want all visitors to have masks or other PPE? If so, it's best to provide these items for anybody arriving without.
  • Provide ample hand sanitizer at every entrance
  • Regularly wipe down touch points, including door handles, counter tops, and pens used for signing in, with sanitizer and sanitizing wipes
  • Discourage handshakes and unnecessary contact. While this is a no-brainer, including a gentle reminder on signage can keep the idea of a touch-free welcome at the front of everybody's mind.

Classify Visitor Type

From familiar faces to outside parties, determine the importance of different types of visitors, as well as the ability to communicate expectations before they arrive at the office. Take a tiered approach not only based on the type of guest, but a timeline that will lift restrictions as safety concerns are loosened.

  • Routine visitors, including maintenance or janitorial staff, can be informed of best practices ahead of time and can be held to more complex safety and sign-in procedures
  • Outside clients and vendors might be more unpredictable parties and at the outset it might be wise to limit their contact to virtual meetings or small groups
  • Friends and family hold a complicated place, and while they might be better-vetted thanks to their connection to employees, their contact should be limited in the beginning
  • Delivery drivers might become more popular as lunch hour needs become more complicated, but enforcing contact-free drop-off outside of reception doors can eliminate unnecessary points of contact

Provide Physical Guidelines

Typical crowd control tools, highly-visible signage, and floor decals are clear, intuitive, and silent ways to manage the flow of visitors in waiting areas. These easy means of communication can speak volumes, even when your front desk staff may be busy with another guest. Some solutions can be customized to meet your own internal processes, as well as guidelines recommended by the CDC.

Wayfinding is a must for bringing visitors into the space as well as leading them to destinations. Appropriate signage can communicate expectations while guide ropes keep queues neat and orderly. To provide valuable rules-of-thumb for safe distancing, floor decals are an alternative to haphazard tape for providing visual boundaries

After signing in and before important meetings, make it possible for guests to stay situated by rearranging any waiting room furniture and separating seating areas. If possible, remove any excess chairs and tables and discard any reading materials that can harbor hard-to-clean germs. Using easy-to-clean vinyl seating, or even chairs with antimicrobial coating, can take waiting room cleanability to another level.

See All: Guide Ropes, Signage, and Antimicrobial Seating

Have Dedicated Spaces

To keep employees and visitors further separated, designate specific conference rooms as employee-only spaces or areas that allow outside visitors. While both areas require strict cleanliness standards, visitor-facing spaces may be equipped with single-use supplies and deep cleaning solvents that can be used in between meetings.

While extending common courtesies, such as providing beverages or a notepad for on-the-fly brainstorming, stick with disposable items like water bottles or single-use cups. Encourage guests to take papers and pens with them, should they forget their own, and dispose of any consumables in frequently emptied garbage cans.

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