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It is time to invest in employee and visitor care systems, not control

As we addressed in the first blog post, visitor management has deep roots in being a feature of access control systems. The overriding value was controlling the access of the known or unknown visitors to an office or place of work. COVID-19 then accelerated the changes visitor management was already feeling by moving beyond just visitors and incorporating anyone that comes to your facility, including employees.

As the use case has changed, so has the value, purpose, process, and expectations of these systems. After speaking with Jonathan Healey, Assistant Director of the Georgetown University Ethics Lab, it has become clear that companies need to move from control and management to investing in care

By definition, control is “maintaining influence or authority over.”  Legacy systems built on power made sense when the sole purpose of the system was to keep bad people out. 

In contrast, care is “the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something or to look after and provide for the needs of.”  As we have seen, health has become a need for “getting back to work,” and when it comes to health, you need care.  

So, why should you invest in your employee and visitor systems that are built for care versus systems that are built on the basis of control? 

The underlying reason is trust. Systems that are built with care put the human at the center of everything and in turn, over time as they interact consistently, transparently, and with openness, humans start to build trust. The result of trust for the different stakeholders is: 

For your employees, the result is happiness. Happiness reduces absenteeism, increased retention, and boosted productivity.  

For your visitors, the result is a commitment or dedication to the company, deeper engagement and admiration, and potential for business referrals. 

The bottom-line result of all this happiness for the business is a high return on investment. Your people are your most significant expense and your biggest value creators. It is good to be in the happiness business. 

What is a system built with care? Here are three characteristics of a system built with care in mind:

  1. The company behind the product and service has a clear purpose. They communicate, why they do what they do, what it is that they believe, and how they are most impactful. Then they are rewarded for it. As explained in an EY article titled, Why business must harness the power of purpose, “Purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees and more loyal customers, and are even better at innovation and transformational change.” 
  2. They ask and have thought through “what could go wrong?” Most technology systems focus on what can go right and have revenue maximization as their core principle. The product built with care not only has guidelines for customers on what to do if something goes wrong but goes a step farther to explain why certain features are not included in their service due to the potential for something terrible to happen – despite the potential revenue they could have gained from it. A great example of this is the recent rush to adopt fever or thermal cameras. Initially, they were seen as the answer to our “getting back to work” healthy questions. Unfortunately, as we have seen by the recent news, there was not a lot of critical thought gone into “what could go wrong.” Results have shown that the performance, effectiveness, and in turn legitimacy of them as the answer, has fallen short. 
  3. People-centric design is the foundation upon which systems of care are built. These systems give customer controls, transparency, and clarity in things like data, privacy, and terms of use. These systems ease people’s concerns and welcome them back every time. 

There are two typical responses from people when discussing the design philosophy of care.  First, do people care? The second, why now? 

The quick answer to the first question is “yes.” People, both your employees and your visitors want to be taken care of. In fact, they assume you are so putting in steps to deliver on that promise is important.

Why now? The movement was well on its way over the recent years but has been accelerated with the pandemic and a period of social unrest. There is a great desire and a heightened sense of urgency for companies to show a default for action. People want trust, transparency, and communication. There is no better time than now. 

So invest in your people. Care for your people. Both, those that work for you, and those that visit you. Invest in systems that dynamically interact with them, deliver delightful experiences and are built with care. The results will reach far beyond the bottom line.

Lee Odess is one of the most accomplished and knowledgeable Building Access experts in the world.  He is the Founder of E+L+C, and former executive of Allegion, a billion-dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry. He also served as an Executive of Unikey, a start-up that pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry and began his career as an Executive with the first cloud-based physical access control manufacturer, Brivo.

Currently, Lee is the founder of www.InsideAccessControl.com and www.InsideVisitorManagement.com, a media and blogging platform focused on the physical access control and visitor management industry, and Group337, a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the commercial real estate, proptech, and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control, and IoT industry.