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Front desk safety and security: 5 essential steps to keep your workplace secure

The front desk of your workplace is like the front door of your home. You want it to be welcoming, friendly, and a reflection of your style. You also want it to keep you safe. As organizations adopt hybrid work models and employee schedules become more flexible, it can be hard to keep track of people coming and going. The added element of a pandemic and the invisible health threats that come with it make front desk safety and security even more challenging. 

Your front desk security should keep your workplace secure and employees feeling welcomed and safe. If it does, your people will feel more comfortable—and excited—about being in the workplace. To get started, follow these five steps.

Step 1 – Screen your visitors in advance

The best defense is preparedness. Know who plans to come on-site before they enter by screening your visitors in advance. The questions you ask should outline a clear set of requirements for entry. These questions give front desk staff a list of people to expect and empower security teams to enforce rules for entering. Screening questions also allow front desk security to check to see if any planned visitors appear on internal or third-party watch lists. 

Many workplaces require visitors to complete a health check to prevent sick employees from entering the premises. Think of your health check questions as a safety protocol that protects your workplace and staff. Managing health checks manually can become unwieldy fast. To keep organized and cut down on inefficiencies, consider using a robust visitor management system. 

Step 2 – Keep a detailed visitor log

After you’ve set up clear parameters for guests, make sure you’re tracking who’s coming and going. Use a visitor log to collect key information from everyone who enters your building. These details can include their name, contact information, reason for visiting, and any other details important to your company. 

This way if an issue with a visitor arises, your front desk staff can refer back to the log, place problem guests on a “no entry” list, and complete necessary follow-ups. That could include sending the visitor an email outlining your guest policies, cross-checking their information against third-party lists, or, if necessary, alerting authorities. This step isn’t just essential for front desk safety and security. Some major regulations actually require it, including ITAR, FSMA, and PCI.

Step 3 – Print a custom badge for every visitor so visitors are easily recognizable

Being able to easily identify who’s who in the workplace helps to keep your employees, ideas, and facilities safe. A badge system is a simple way to distinguish guests from regular staff. Some examples of this include automated badge printing for every visitor who signs in at the front desk, or pre-printing visitor passes for guests who complete your pre-screening form in advance.

To make your badge system even more specific, you can include guests’ reason for visiting on their badge; maybe a “visiting for an interview” badge is a different color than a “visiting for a meeting” badge. You can also include a sign-in timestamp, print a visitor photo on the badge, or create expiring badges to limit visit times—just to name a few ideas to track guests. To complement your custom visitor badge setup, develop a badge policy. An enforceable rule empowers front desk security to take action when they identify unauthorized visitors.  

Step 4 – Have a strategy in place to turn away unauthorized visitors

Your screening protocol (see Step 1) will flag visitors who don’t appropriately answer the visitor questions. Your visitor log (see Step 2) will help identify anyone who shouldn’t be allowed inside. And your badge system (see Step 3) will differentiate visitors from staff so your security folks can enforce the rules. 

Now that you know who’s coming and going, (and who shouldn’t be on-site), what happens next? Make sure you have a consistent strategy for how to turn away unauthorized visitors once you’ve identified them. You’ll need to train your front desk staff in protocols and de-escalation techniques to prepare them for these incidents.

  1. Articulate visitor policy and identify how the guest has breached it
  2. Ask the visitor to leave
  3. Call in a second staff member to assist with walking the individual out
  4. Know who to contact if the visitor begins to make a scene.
  5. Document the incident and alert relevant internal folks

A sound incident management protocol ensures all front desk staff feel safe and prepared for these sometimes difficult interactions.

Step 5 – Train your team to document incidents

Front desk staff should document and track every incident that requires support or raises concerns. Train your team to create consistent and comprehensive incident reports. These should include:

  • The name of the visitor, including all information gathered from the visitor log
  • A thorough description of the issue
  • A list of who else was involvedsecurity staff, employees, third parties
  • A step-by-step accounting of what actions the staff member took to de-escalate the situation
  • Any next steps or follow-ups. For example, place the visitor on a do-not-visit list, alert authorities, meet with employees involved in the incident, etc. 

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to protecting others. As with your incident management protocol, an incident documentation protocol ensures your team reports necessary information and keeping the workplace safe for everyone.

A workplace is only as secure as its front desk. Make visitors feel welcomed and ensure employees are safe with a streamlined check-in process, clear rules, an empowered security staff, and airtight procedures. 

Want to learn more about how to keep your workplace and people secure? Download our ebook, A framework for scaling hybrid work security.