Guest Article: Evolution of the VMS heading into a post-COVID-19 world

September 21, 2020

In terms of business impact, what exactly is “post-COVID-19”? Does it exist? Maybe we’re already there.

I say this because our world has already changed permanently, virus or no virus. The way we work, meet, and play has been massively transformed in less than six months. Still, we can’t just live on video conferencing and virtual communications, not by a long shot.

People still want and need to meet face-to-face. They want to check out your digs, and for Visitor Management Systems (VMS) the risks and rules have changed beyond recognition.  

Accelerated evolution caused by the pandemic

Even pre-COVID-19, visitor management systems were already rapidly evolving. Long ago we ditched the pen & paper visitor logbook and went digital with reception desk iPads. This move vastly improved security, efficiency, branding, and compliance parameters. The next phase already underway is “Connected Digital” which involves highly granular management of the flow of people, whether visitors or employees or contractors, via stronger mobile apps, QR codes, and other specialized features.

The thing is, the new world of work isn’t just about people working remotely or not. Rather, it’s the creative destruction of the traditional work boundaries of time and space we’ve all been accustomed to. We’re now all collaborating across time zones and teams work well beyond the constraints of the usual 9 to 5 on weekdays. This means our understanding of our physical places of work must also adapt to remain relevant.

How can you keep track of them all?

As expected, work at home preferences widely vary. An IBM survey found that 83% of those currently working remotely wish to continue working away from the office, at least occasionally. Meanwhile, 65% of those surveyed want to remain remote full time or close to it. Of those who are now working remotely full-time, less than one in ten say they want to return to their workplace exclusively.

According to McKinsey research, office-space decision-makers expect the percentage of time worked in main and satellite offices will decline by 12 and 9 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, flex office space will remain relatively constant while work from home will ramp up from 20 to 27 percent of work time.

How can you keep track of all this? For example, at your physical office space, how do you monitor the comings and goings of personnel and visitors especially taking into account COVID-19? Thanks to VMS solutions available now, companies have some pretty solid answers for a sustainable future without disjointed flows.

The work & health Implications

Beyond the remote worker revolution, other workplace realities such as social distancing and risk assessment have become commonplace. Measures such as restricted access, visitor screening, and maintaining an auditable logbook are found in most of the playbooks established by major health organizations (WHO, OSHA, etc.) and subsequently adopted by leading companies.

When the crisis began, many businesses were caught flat-footed since they had only rudimentary visitor management systems in place for their business continuity. Meanwhile, those with more advanced VMS have been able to hit the ground running.

We’re already back to work

Many companies that managed to work straight through the COVID-19 crisis took full advantage of Proxyclick’s touchless check-in. While it wasn’t envisioned to be exclusive to a pandemic scenario, touchless check-in became an ideal solution for the crisis.

The ideal VMS should be designed to protect the health and safety of both employees and visitors with a platform allows for things like:

Although no security is 100% foolproof, each check-in into a facility can be more relaxed and efficient since there’s no plowing through registration at a crowded reception desk. Once the remote check-in ends, a QR code provides access to all the appropriate areas of your building. You can even drop in body temperature-check data to have on file. Visitor data can also be accessed later if an infected person has visited your site. Finally, for privacy compliance, sensitive personal data can be deleted automatically after a specified time frame.

What’s not to like? Nobody needs to get creeped out by being forced to touch extra surfaces. There are no pens, paper, or tablets needing to be handled.

But there’s even more work to be done

While VMS and touchless check-in work is awesome, we always want more, don’t we? There’s no reason to be draconian about when and where we can work anymore. Instead, businesses should push the envelope and leverage new opportunities.

As I alluded to earlier, it’s not just about screening people for COVID-19 symptoms. It’s an entirely new reality of remote work, flex work hours, and breaking down traditional concepts of how to manage employees and visitors who flow in and out of your facility. And the key to it all is data.

We’re striving for a unified experience for all people across all company locations in any work arrangement. Meanwhile, we still have fragmented systems such as access control, meeting room management, parking, visitor management, and so on.

Some other questions that might need answers:

We’re already here… again

If there’s a silver lining in what we’ve all experienced so far in 2020, it’s this: Budding solutions to many of these issues already exist. From biometric systems to space management solutions and indoor positioning systems to room & resource booking, various industries are hard at work finding answers. The key will be in how to centralize, integrate, bring forth the right context to put the data to use.

At Proxyclick, we strive to help organizations by allowing their employees and visitors to be fully immersed in a people flow that takes advantage of the right data at the right time. This not only means optimizing health and security measures, but also impacting branding, bottom lines, and experiences.

Geoffroy’s decades of experience in helping companies build their competitive advantage and drive bottom-line impact has led to his success in leading the charge at Proxyclick as Chief Product Officer. His decision to co-found Proxyclick in 2011 was always set on the cornerstone of operational efficiency and physical security without compromising on data privacy. He’s especially excited about helping enterprise companies strike the right balance between data privacy’s legal and compliance implications with the health and safety measures we’re all growing accustomed to.

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