Why visitors are the answer to building a stronger workplace

Businesses have experienced a resurgence of community in 2022. Workplace leaders have worked tirelessly on return-to-office plans to bring employees safely and happily back on-site. They’ve dusted off the desks, added new monitors, reorganized meeting spaces, and hosted engaging on-site events. They’ve done all this to bring back a sense of workplace community that we lost during the last few years.

But it’s not just employees who make up the workplace community – visitors play a critical role in this as well. Between 2021 and 2022, visitor traffic grew by 84%. In 2022, the story continues with a 43% increase in visitor traffic in just the first half of the year.

Why are visitors so essential to the workplace? Along with fostering a deep sense of community in the workplace, visitors give businesses the opportunity to grow, expand, and share their products and culture with others.

Plus workplace visitors can include many different types of people. Some are important clients and customers coming for a meeting, others are friends or family stopping in for a casual lunch. You might have contractors or vendors who are essential to keeping your workplace running smoothly. Or maybe you’re on a hiring spree and have candidates in the office for on-site interviews. No matter what type of visitor they are, it’s your role to welcome them to the workplace and create a great experience for everyone.

In this eBook, we’ll walk you through the importance of visitors in driving a workplace community and why that strengthens your workplace. Then we’ll introduce the most common visitor types and how to tailor an experience for each one.

Read on to learn:

How visitors drive community in the workplace
5 types of visitors and how to customize their experience on-site
The data you need to improve the visitor experience

How visitors drive community in the workplace

One of the best parts of being back in an office is being able to connect with teammates in real life again and rebuild community with those you work with.

A workplace community means more than having lunch buddies in the kitchen or project team members to work with. A workplace community drives a larger sense of belonging and purpose towards a shared goal. According to a report by BetterUp, a sense of belonging among employees can lead to a 56% increase in job performance and a 50% decrease in the risk of employee turnover.

But who actually makes up a workplace community? Here’s a clue: it’s not just the employees. It’s also all the guests that visit your offices throughout the week.

Whether you have daily guests like caterers, vendors, and delivery staff, one-off visits from clients coming in for a quarterly meeting, or job candidates touring their future office, every visitor is an important piece of your workplace community.

Let’s walk through nine ways visitors drive community, belonging, and purpose in the workplace.

9 ways your business can benefit from workplace visitors

1. Creates long-term connections with customers

While Zoom video calls are powerful for introducing your company and your products to prospective customers, on-site experiences are essential in driving more personal connections and ultimately, closing deals. According to HubSpot, the close rate for in-person sales meetings is 40%.

By providing a physical space for your sales or customer success teams to meet with customers, your business can further develop long-term connections and relationships with important business partners. For example, if a sales member is able to bring a prospective client into the office, take them for lunch, and spend quality time understanding their pain points, they may be better able to secure a deal.  

Inviting long-time clients on-site helps show gratitude and a commitment to partnership. And inviting newer clients or prospects on-site can help show dedication and investment in your client’s success.

2. Allows investors to assess your business

Along with being able to invite customers on-site, opening your doors to visitors also allows you to create great experiences for investors and board members. Investors want to see how well your company is doing and what the culture of your workplace is.

Seeing the buzz of an office space or watching teams solve problems can help a potential investor paint a larger picture of your business. Plus, your executive teams will be able to lead important presentations and conversations in-person if their guests are also on-site.

3. Builds your public reputation

First impressions are everything. Research shows that it only takes 27 seconds for someone to form an impression about you, your business, your trustworthiness, and more.

Inviting visitors to your workplace allows you to create a first impression that can drive brand awareness, interest from prospective candidates, and future opportunities with business partners or clients. Chances are if someone has a great first impression of your business and a great experience as a visitor, they’ll share that experience within their network. And like wildfire, your business rep can spread and open doors for new opportunities.

You can make sure you create a positive first impression by using seamless visitor registration software and customizing the experience depending on your visitor. But more on that later.

4. Helps you build a company brand

A workplace lobby is the first look into a company’s brand. It’s like the homepage of a website. Visitors can gather a lot of information about a company’s values, goals, and culture just by their experience in the lobby.

Through the physical elements of the lobby, the tools your visitors use to sign in, and the available beverages or snacks, you can create a memorable brand experience. Allowing visitors to come on-site allows you to plan how to present your company externally and assess whether your visitors are resonating with it. By iterating on that experience and gathering feedback from visitors, you can continuously improve your company’s brand.

5. Attracts talent

Your company culture and physical office space can be a key recruitment tool to attract and retain qualified candidates. According to The Future of Work 2022 report by Monster, 81% of companies think that in-person recruiting is better than virtual recruitment.

The in-person experience of touring an office and meeting with team members can be what ultimately makes a candidate sign an offer.  It also helps your HR and recruiting teams ensure that this person is a good fit for the team they’re joining. Making sure that you have a great visitor experience for candidates can go a long way in drawing the best talent to your business.

6. Improves the employee experience

Being back in the office means you might miss your family and loved-ones a bit more. Especially if you got used to spending a lot of time with them at home. Allowing employees to invite their family and friends to the office for visits can be exciting and memorable for them.

They’ll be able to share their work experience with their loved ones, brag about their variety of office snacks, and introduce them to their company culture. This can help improve the employee’s experience by better allowing them to blend some of their personal and work life in a new way. Being able to merge personal and work communities helps foster an even stronger workplace culture and sense of belonging.

7. Keeps your workplace running smoothly

A workplace runs smoothly when there are enough supplies, snacks, and equipment for employees. Who takes care of all this? It’s your visitors! The delivery staff, caterers, supply vendors, mechanics, maintenance workers and more are the ones who make sure the workplace has what it needs to get through the day.

This group of people is essential in helping workplace managers create a workplace that people love. By inviting these groups on-site and diversifying the enormous task of running a workplace, you are able to better support your workplace management teams and create a more fluid workplace experience. The interactions between employees and food caterers, or between workplace managers and delivery staff further strengthen that sense of togetherness and workplace community.

8. Drives belonging and inclusivity

Diversity, inclusivity, and belonging are important pieces of building a great workplace culture. According to a study by Better Up, the feeling of belonging is a close cousin of many related experiences such as mattering, identification, and social connection.

Aside from the socializing employees do with each other at work, social connections with visitors can also drive a meaningful sense of belonging. Different visitors bring their own unique backgrounds to the workplace. They come from different industries, have varying job positions, have different cultural or socio-economic backgrounds, and bring their own perspectives to the workplace culture. Cultivating an inclusive space by allowing visitors to be a part of a community helps instill the idea that employees and visitors alike can be themselves, connect with each other, and all belong to a shared workplace community.

9. Helps you improve your security practices

A not-so-obvious benefit of having visitors on-site is that it forces you to make sure your security practices are top-tier. Uninvited guests can pose a threat to your workplace and your employees. So by investing in a visitor management tool that requires visitors to submit identification, allows them to sign non-disclosure agreements, verifies health and vaccination status, and tracks their time in and out of the office, you can make sure your workplace has a strong pulse on the happenings of the office.

If your workplace regularly welcomes visitors, you can use that as an opportunity to continuously review, improve, and update your security practices.

LEAD uses visitor management to create an environment that encourages community participation and immediately makes everyone feel at home. We use the badge feature to help faculty spot visitors on campus and personally say hello, making visitors feel like the whole school knows their name.

Principal at Lead Elementary

Read the case study

Best practices for creating a great visitor experience

Now that we’ve covered the top benefits of having visitors on-site, let’s dive into some best practices for creating a great visitor experience. It’s not enough to just bring visitors on-site. You have to go above and beyond to make sure their visit is personalized, positive, and purposeful.

Creating a great visitor experience doesn’t have to be as elaborate or fancy as hosting the Queen, but a few small details can go a long way in ensuring your visitors feel a strong connection to your workplace and ultimately, your community.

We’ll start with some best practices that apply to any type of guest.

1. Create a 5-star experience in 5 minutes

You’re not going to have all the time in the world with each visitor that walks in your door. Creating a five-star approach is about creating comfort, meeting immediate needs, and exceeding expectations. Your visitor management technology can help here, too.

For example, use your visitor management system to pre-register your guests. You can send out a calendar invite, NDA and safety paperwork, and health verification documents all in one swoop. Plus, once your visitor arrives on-site, your visitor registration tool will automatically send a notification to the host and alert them of their visitor’s arrival. That way the host can greet their guest right when they arrive.

2. Invest in seamless technology

A visitor registration system that allows visitors to pre-register, sign in for the day, book a desk, and sign necessary documents will make the entire experience seamless and easy for visitors. Your guests will walk away impressed and excited by how easy their visit was and how intuitive the process was.

3. Create a clutter-free entry space

Treat your lobby like you would your home when you have guests over. A clean, well-organized lobby can reflect an organized and thoughtful company. On the other hand, a messy and disorganized space can leave a bad first impression. Set the right tone by tidying up that space on the days you have visitors registered to come on-site.

4. Be kind and friendly

A “hello, how are you” or “can I get you anything while you wait?” can go a long way in making your visitors feel welcomed. A generally friendly and optimistic attitude towards your visitors will set the tone for their visit.

Train your front desk staff and security or even the employees who sit at the desks near the lobby on best practices for welcoming and guiding visitors when they arrive.

5. Give visitors something to do

Meetings can run late and other unexpected things can get in the way of a timely greeting. Instead of keeping your visitors waiting in the lobby twiddling their thumbs, provide your guests with something active to do. Offer visitors drinks and grab-and-go water and snacks to show them you care for their comfort. In addition, have marketing collateral and one-pagers of your company laid out to read so investors, clients, or candidates can start learning about your business.

6. Don’t let your guest leave without swag

Last but not least, don’t let your guests leave without some fun company goodies. These can be as simple as pens, stickers, or water bottles. You can even invite your visitors to grab a snack or two from your kitchen. Little details go a long way in making the experience memorable and special.

The experience you create for your visitors is important in making your visitors feel comfortable, special, and welcome in your workplace. More than that though, the visitor experience helps you build your brand, improve the employee experience, grow your business, and strengthen your workplace community. By opening the doors of your workplace up to the world, you actually foster a more intimate sense of human connection. And it’s those human connections that create strong workplaces.

For World Rugby, curating a great first visitor experience speaks to the inspirational leadership “on and off the field” that we cultivate. There is such freedom and a culture of bringing new ideas to the World Rugby business that comes with a seamless, professional visitor sign-in experience.

IT & Broadcast Technology Manager at World Rugby

Read the case study

5 visitors types and the features that support them

The mark of a best-in-class visitor experience is customization. A personalized experience can make a visitor feel special and a part of the fabric of the workplace community. Plus, a tailored experience fueled by technology can increase the speed of the check-in and allows visitors to get what they need quicker. This in turn strengthens your entire workplace community by allowing everyone who enters your building to quickly and comfortably get what they need and go where they need to go to do their best work.

Depending on the visitor, you’ll likely welcome them differently. For example, you might welcome a candidate differently than you would a vendor. With a visitor registration system that integrates with all the other tools you rely on, such as Google Calendar, Docusign, or Slack, you’ll be able to tailor the experience based on the needs of the visit. Look for a visitor management system that can integrate with your existing workplace tools and that you can modify or expand depending on future needs.

Let’s walk through a few examples of visitor types and what features you might use to customize their experience.

1. Business partners

Business partners are a type of visitor who is essential not only to building your workplace community but also to driving business revenue. These visitors could be investors, current customers, prospective clients, or really anyone who you have a working business relationship with. These visitors aren’t royalty, but they are the next closest thing.

A great visitor experience will help strengthen your working relationship, foster a deeper sense of connection among employees and clients, and impress your visitors with your brand, products, and culture. For this visitor group, your top priorities are speed and comfort.

This group is busy! They care about meeting with the people they are booked to meet and being able to go about their day.

A digital communication integration like Slack, can help alert prompt hosts when their visitors arrive so your guests are never left waiting. You should add a document signing tool like Docusign or Dropbox, so any private documents that your visitors might need to sign will be kept confidential.

Pro tip:
To go above and beyond to create a comfortable experience, make sure you book one of your more spacious and high-quality meeting rooms. Also, be sure to give your visitor a quick tour of the office so they know where to go if they need a snack, water, or to use the restroom.

2. Job candidates

Candidates coming for on-site interviews are likely going to be wracked with nerves. On top of wanting to impress their interviewers, they’re also going to use this visit to assess whether or not they want to work at your company. You want to make sure you create a seamless and intuitive experience for candidates, so they walk away with a great impression of your business.

You’ll need a calendar integration that sends out details of the interview date, time, and location prior to the visit. Tools like Greenhouse or Goodtime.io automatically create invites for interviews. Plus, these integrations allow you to customize the invitation and add additional notes like details on where to park, how to find the building, and who to ask for when they sign in.

This visitor is going to care about the interactions they have with your front lobby staff. So you can go above and beyond to wow them and make a great first impression by having their badge and interview schedule printed out for them when they arrive.

3. Contractors

Contractors or freelancers are integral parts of your work community. They add their skills, expertise, and unique personality to your workforce. While some contractors might work behind the scenes, many contractors will come to your workplace to attend team meetings and work on projects on-site.

You’ll want to make sure your contractors feel comfortable in your workplace by providing a designated workstation. This is where a visitor management tool that is part of a larger workplace platform can come in handy. You can sync your desk reservation, scheduling, and visitor management tool all in one place. Contractors can easily register for the day, sign in, book a desk, and check out.

Plus, you’ll want a Wi-fi sharing integration like Cisco Meraki, so that when your contractors come on-site to work, they can, well, work.

4. Food and supply vendors

Return to the office means a return to the office snacks! A lot of employees don’t know what goes on behind the scenes to make sure the chip drawer is stocked, the coffee is hot and freshly brewed, and the lunch buffet is set up for easy eating. It’s the food and supply vendors that visit your workplace daily who take care of everything that keeps the office running. So it’s important to welcome and care for them with a great visitor experience.

You’ll want to use a feature such as ezeep, that prints visitor badges when visitors sign in. This will help them navigate the office comfortably and help your workplace managers identify and work with them. You’ll also need an access control feature like Kisi, that allows you to grant specific access to certain areas of the building. You don’t want the person restocking the snacks to get locked out of the supply closet.

5. Family and friends

For employees, it can be exciting to invite family members or friends on-site to share a meal or get a tour of the office. These visitors won’t have a business purpose, so they don’t need a desk or to sign non-disclosure agreements. They will, however, need to verify their health and identity in order to keep themselves and the entire workplace safe and healthy.

Features like Athena or FLIR offer contactless fever detection to make sure everyone who comes on-site is healthy. Plus, your visitor registration system may already have a built-in health screening that prompts visitors to upload their health information or vaccine card. This makes it easy for your HR or workplace teams to quickly approve visitors and let the family reunion in the office begin! Plus, having these guests pre-registered in your visitor registration system is important so your workplace team can know how many people to expect. This makes food ordering and space planning easier.

Headspace is able to balance culture and confidentiality by having multiple visitor types as part of our process. The feature allows for visitors to sign different NDAs based on why they’re visiting. We adjusted our ‘Purpose of Visit’ types to include ‘Meeting,’ ‘Interview,’ and ‘Hanging Out’ - it’s very customized to fit us.

Workplace Experience Manager at Headspace

Read the case study

Regardless of who your visitor is and what their purpose in your workplace is, you want to make sure you’re tailoring the experience for each person. Your visitor management tools can help take care of the speed and efficiency part of the visitor experience, but human touch and friendly connection are important to make them feel welcome and invited to your workplace community.

How to use data to improve the visitor experience

You have the tools down. You’ve customized the experience for each visitor type. What’s next? Now you leverage all of your visitor data to glean insights on how to improve the process.

Data can serve as a compass, guiding you in a new direction or providing insight on how to grow as an organization.

When it comes to visitors, your data tells you which visitors are coming in the most and at what times. This will help you prepare your workplace based on who you expect. Maybe you’ll discover that investors tend to come on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So have a variety of teams across your organization schedule their in-office days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to showcase your bustling office culture.

Be sure to invest in a visitor management system that can provide you with real-time data and reports on foot traffic. This will keep you informed on the happenings of your workplace, so you’re always prepared and ready to plan or react.

Let’s talk through a few things you can do with visitor data:

1. Know where to put your resources

With workplace visitor data, you and key stakeholders can make informed decisions around staffing, budgeting, real estate, and more. Here are a few examples of workplace decisions you can drive with visitor data:

  • Compliance: Track who has signed or uploaded required documents to ensure all workplace locations meet their regulatory requirements.
  • Recruiting: Assess candidate no-show rates and figure out what are the busiest days for on-site interviews. Make sure your HR team is on-site that day and conference rooms are cleared out for interviews.
  • Front desk and security staffing: Paint a picture of how many and when visitors are most likely to enter the workplace, so you can make sure there’s a front desk host available.
  • Capacity planning: If you know who’s expected to be on-site at each workplace location, you can order the right amount of lunch, adjust your space, and be sure you have desks and rooms set up.

2. Tailor the experience for visitor types

If you have data around which type of visitor is coming in on which day, you can plan ahead. This is where you might lean into your pre-registration data. Your pre-registration data will not only inform who the visitor is, but also allow you to quickly screen their background and verify their health information.

With all of this data at your fingertips, you can make an informed decision on whether that visitor is safe to come into your workplace. And if they are safe to come in, you can start planning how to take care of them when they arrive. Once you figure out which type of visitor they are, who they’re meeting with, and what time they’re coming in, you can tailor their experience accordingly.

3. Provide visibility to stakeholders

No matter the visitor type, your business leaders care who is coming in and out of your workplace (and the types of experience they are getting).

With a visitor registration system that has an embedded analytics email feature, you can make sure all the parties involved have data at their fingertips. They’ll be able to see which employees invite the most visitors and which visitors check in most often. They’ll also be able to understand how well their security measures are performing by tracking signed legal agreements and block list matches.

At Technicolor, we monitor and track physical security using visitor analytics. Our IT team downloads Excel files to create pivot tables, letting them analyze the flow of visitors throughout the year. This makes it easy for us to pinpoint the office’s busiest times and gives us insight into future capacity planning.

Project Manager, IT at Technicolor

5 questions to ask when looking at visitor data

Now that you know how beneficial your visitor data is, let’s dive into a few types of data points that can help you plan for and improve your company’s visitor experience.

Imagine this: you’ve just pulled a report from your visitor management system, and you’ve got a ton of numbers and bar graphs to parse through. What questions should you ask yourself?

1. Which visitor type comes to each office most frequently?

With analytics from your visitor dashboard, you can create specific sign-in questions that prompt visitors to provide their identification. Once you’ve got data on who’s coming in, you can figure out at what frequency each group is coming on-site. Maybe you have an office that relies on many contractors coming in each week. Or maybe you have a law office and multiple clients coming in daily. This data will allow you to plan ahead and tailor the experience based on visitor type.

2. Which teams invite the most visitors?

Certain teams are going to invite visitors more often. For example, your sales teams might be inviting prospects to lunch far more often than any other team. Or your HR team might be bringing in candidates on-site more frequently. This data allows you to work closely with those teams and provide them with proper training on how to pre-register visitors, schedule them a desk, respond to notifications of visitors on-site, and greet them.

3. What time are visitors checking in?

Do your visitors come in mostly in the morning? The afternoon? This data can help you make sure that your front lobby and security are staffed and prepared to handle visitors at the time they arrive the most. The data can also help your workplace managers or front lobby team plan their own work schedules better. Not a great idea to have a team meeting when visitor foot traffic is at its heaviest.

4. How much time do visitors stay on-site?

As helpful as sign-in data is, sign-out data is also important. Use sign-out data to track how long on average your visitors stay on-site. This data can be valuable when assessing security threats, emergencies, or understanding capacity planning.

5. How did the visitor enjoy the experience?

Rolling out a visitor management process is just half the story. Once it’s rolled out, you need to continue iterating and improving upon the process in order to take it to a new height. When your visitors sign out after they’re done with their work for the day, your visitor registration system can shoot over a post-visit survey email and gather their feedback. You can ask them questions about their visit and the sign-in process as well as ask for any recommendations for improvement.

That feedback can provide valuable insights on how to improve the visitor experience and what’s working well. You might find patterns in the data. For example, are your candidates having a great experience but your clients having a poor one? You might not be investing enough time and consideration in this major visitor type.

Your visitor data can help you create a research-backed visitor experience. Without data, you might be planning in the dark. Data helps you ensure that your efforts on visitor management are helping other areas of the business as well, such as resource management, capacity planning, security, and more. All of these ingredients combined create a stronger workplace.