There's One Way To Give Visitors Confidence To Walk Through Your Doors
To some businesses, visitor management is still a clipboard on a desk with a pen. To others it is a lengthy check-in procedure at a busy reception desk. But to the businesses that have spotted all the opportunities that lie within a streamlined, automated visitor management system it is a wealth of useful data, and a way to give people the confidence they need to return to the office.
Despite the lifting of government restrictions, many people have been reluctant to return to the office. Research from Centre for Cities found that only 15% of Londoners returned to the office in July. Creating a more transparent system is one way that businesses and landlords can encourage people to return, said Paul Speariett, regional director at Yardi and co-founder of Forge, a software platform for visitor management that property management software leader Yardi acquired in June.
“Right from the start of the pandemic, people were nervous about coming to a building,” Speariett said. “But now, operators need data to understand how people are returning and visitors need the confidence to attend that meeting in person. Businesses need a way to create that confidence, to show that a building is safe, is secure and provides a healthy environment.”
A Streamlined Experience
Forge’s platform, Bluepoint, doesn’t just leap into action when a visitor enters the atrium of an office building. The journey of a visitor attending a meeting has multiple touch points with several opportunities to provide reassurance.
“It starts with the creation of a meeting by the host,” Speariett said. “They can use their standard calendar or log in to Bluepoint. Next, the visitor will receive an invitation that contains information about the building — where it is located, for example, a QR code to enter, cleaning regimes and entry requirements that relate to Covid. That’s where we start building up that confidence that it’s safe to visit.”
Once the visitor enters the building, a business can establish the check-in procedure that suits them most. The QR code can allow a visitor to scan themselves in and head straight to the right place. Alternatively, they can take it to the reception desk to be checked in and directed. While the touchless aspect is particularly attractive post-pandemic, it doesn’t suit all businesses, Speariett said.
“Our platform is used in a lot of high-end buildings, where the visitor experience is extremely important,” he said. “We’re not suggesting replacing people on desks with kiosks, but rather to give them an additional option to provide a seamless journey. In theory, a kiosk might be a good idea but in a huge atrium, it can feel daunting for a visitor to find the right place, which is why attending a reception desk might be the right option.”
To create that seamless journey, Bluepoint can be integrated into a number of other systems that a business or building might use, including access control hardware and tenant portal platforms. The idea is to remove any friction a business or visitor might experience with multiple systems. As a result, users might not even know Bluepoint is there.
A Wealth Of Data
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Speariett said that the way businesses are using Bluepoint has evolved. While it is still used for visitor management, some businesses are also using it for staff management.
“Users now include people who might be going to a new office for regular work, such as a flexible workspace, or people who have different working patterns to previously,” he said. “Now visitors could be members of staff from different areas of a building or company. Teams are using it to utilise their space better, as they know who will be where, for how long.”
While using this data to inform a real estate strategy is extremely useful, Speariett also highlighted that data security and compliance with regulations are essential. Bluepoint collects a wealth of information about visitors, but all data is anonymised. The company has several accreditations that demonstrate its credentials in this aspect, which Speariett said is one reason why Bluepoint is used by so many high-profile customers, such as Landsec, BNP Paribas and Brookfield Properties.
The use of data is still a new concept for many tenants and landlords, however. Many elements of how people use an office are being rethought post-pandemic and data will be extremely valuable, but exactly how it can be used is still being explored.
“We’re still working to understand how to get the best value from it and how to benefit users,” Speariett said. “We can produce data on how buildings are used in different ways. A landlord might want to install a café to attract more users; we can look at the data to see if that would be viable. We’ve even got data on people before they get into the building that could be useful for transport companies. To us, success is about buildings being able to pre-book as many people as possible, which gives greater value and foresight.”
While this data is extremely useful for future planning, no doubt the priority right now is to encourage people to return to the office. Predictions are that people will return, albeit gradually, and getting a visitor management system right now could provide the confidence that everyone needs.
This article was produced in collaboration between Forge Powered by Yardi and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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