Visitor management as an after-thought
Being in the industry for many years, ATG has been selling digital visitor management and access control tools to schools, office parks, businesses, healthcare facilities, and industrial parks. Over the years, we’ve heard stories about how some facilities view and treat visitor management as an after-thought. Below are seven of the worst practices in visitor management that we’ve encountered and our ideas for improving the facility security in each of the given circumstances.
What other examples of bad visitor management practices have you witnessed?
1. Concentrating on the appearance of the building to the detriment of security.
The security of a building should never take a back seat to its aesthetics. You should place security cameras so they are in view, not hidden. Seeing the camera is half the value due to its presence being a deterrent. Lighting should be strategically placed so any given area of the facility can be seen (either by security camera or by people). Walkways should be barren of any trees or bushes so people with malicious intentions don’t have a place to hide.
2. Failing to secure and account for all building entrances.
It is critical to secure every entranceway to your building. Ideally, there should be one main way to enter and exit a building with a few emergency exits. The exact number of emergency exits depends on the number of people typically in the building, but emergency exits should only be able to be opened from the inside of a building. In addition, having one way to enter a building allows your visitors to be funneled to a front desk or lobby to be registered.
3. Not documenting visitors to the building.
Every guest, contractor, vendor, parent, delivery person, or potential new hire that comes to your building should be documented in a visitor management system of some kind. Whether that visitor management system is electronic or manual, the fact that a visitor entered the building should be documented. In addition, a visible visitor badge should be worn by the visitor to indicate that they have been processed by the front desk and are allowed to be in the facility.
4. Allowing unannounced visitors to have access to the building.
Every visitor should have an employee expecting them. Otherwise, the visitor could be wasting your employee’s time or have bad intentions once they gain access to the facility. You should have a policy that unannounced visitors are not allowed in the facility. In addition, employees who are expecting visitors should notify your security department ahead of time.
5. Not understanding your security tools and technology.
Physical security technology, such as closed-circuit TV, has come a long way in the last 10-15 years. There are numerous types of cameras and digital video recorders on the market, and each type has its own features and benefits. These are great for continuously monitoring a facility, preventing misuse of resources, or tracking employees. However, if you don’t know how to properly utilize all the features or plan for their implementation accordingly, they will essentially be expensive toys that provide no actual physical security benefit (other than providing a visible deterrent, as mentioned in example number one, above).
6. Not securing vital offices and rooms inside of the building.
There are certain rooms and offices in an organization that should always be locked, or at least guarded. The Accounting Department most likely contains sensitive information such as customer credit card numbers. The Human Resources Department contains employee social security numbers and home addresses. The server room contains the system for allowing employees to do their work. These are three examples of rooms that should always have a facility security plan.
7. Allowing upper management to ignore the security rules.
Nothing undermines security protocol quite like allowing upper management to do whatever they’d like to do. This is a common facility security mistake and you should avoid it. If there are rules about wearing I.D. badges or entering the building through a specific door, then everyone must follow that procedure, no matter who they are. Setting an example begins at the top.