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FRONT OF HOUSE THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE


What role can visitor management systems have in stopping infected people entering a workplace? Susan Clarke, Research Director at Verdantix, explores the tools organisations can use to fortify their businesses.


For many years, visitor management systems have sat behind reception desks, enabling firms to keep a register of visitors entering and leaving a building. According to Verdantix data, 83% of firms already have such a system in place across all facilities or multiple sites. As facility managers start to assemble their ‘return to work’ strategies for when lockdowns ease, what role will these systems take in helping firms stop the spread of COVID-19?


Visitor management systems should be a firm’s first line of defence for stopping infected people entering a workplace. Most visitor management systems enable firms to send out non-disclosure agreements, disclaimers and other questionnaires to guests before their arrival to speed up their check-in on site. Firms should look at updating these pre-visit questionnaires with COVID-19 screening questions to help identify potential carriers before they enter a building. According to privacy laws in Europe and the US, firms are generally permitted to ask visitors targeted questions about COVID-19 symptoms but not their overall health.


It is also a great time for firms to consider replacing an old or rigid visitor management system. When Verdantix analysed 10 innovative visitor management systems earlier this year, we found modern systems offer customers lots of flexibility to implement COVID-19 defences. For example, SwipedOn enables firms to quickly customise visitor questionnaires to screen out people with symptoms or specific travel history.


“Firms are generally permitted to ask visitors


targeted questions about COVID-19 symptoms but not their overall health.”


Sine allows firms to push essential announcements, such as workplace safety procedures or emergency announcements, to onsite visitors or staff through its mobile app. Sine’s mobile app leverages a geofence – a digital boundary around a workplace – to push notifications, text messages and alerts to visitors while on site. IWMS vendor Planon enables firms to use to its visitor management module to scatter the arrival times of visitors to reduce potential queues at the reception desk. Thermoteknix provides a visitor fever


scanning solution, ‘FevIR Scan’, to measure skin temperature and automatically identify people with


elevated temperature


Another tool to fortify your workplace is temperature screening. This is already a widespread practice in China, with some businesses in Europe and the US starting to follow suit. For example, Cadbury is checking staff temperature at factory sites in Birmingham and South Wales.


At present visitor temperature screening is permitted by US law given the pandemic, but regulator guidance varies by country in Europe. This approach will only be effective in screening out visitors showing symptoms, but do remember people can be infected with COVID-19 for over five days before showing these.


There is also a role for visitor management software to support ‘contact tracing’, a method to identify persons who have encountered an infected person. In April 2020, UK health secretary Matt Hancock announced testing, tracking and tracing will be central to the UK’s strategy to keep the disease down. If a workplace visitor is later found to have contracted the COVID-19 virus, firms can delve into their visitor management system to help identify which staff encountered the carrier and may now be at risk. This is an established practice in Singapore; since 2017 Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the National University Hospital have been requiring visitors to pre-register and scan their IDs at the entrance to enhance contact tracing in the event of a pandemic.


52 | TOMORROW’S FM


Visitor management systems can play a vital role in stemming the spread of COVID-19. Four practical tips to get the most out of your visitor management system include:


Update pre-visit questionnaires with targeted questions about COVID-19 symptoms. Make it clear to the visitor the purpose of data collection and how long their data will be stored.


1. Update pre-visit questionnaires with targeted questions about COVID-19 symptoms. Make it clear to the visitor the purpose of data collection and how long their data will be stored.


2. Use visitor management systems to educate guests on new workplace etiquette to support infection control such as no handshakes. A visitor management system can often send out automated emails or provide guests with live updates via a mobile app.


3. Explore upgrading your system so it can generate QR codes to enable visitors to check-in without contact. Guests can scan their QR code on arrival, removing the need for them to touch a screen or a visitor book.


4. Require internal staff to update visitor management systems consistently to support contact tracing in the future.


www.verdantix.com/covid19 twitter.com/TomorrowsFM


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