As COVID-19 stay-at-home orders expire and businesses ease into opening their doors, a top concern has emerged: how to keep visitors and employees safe from a virus that hasn’t been eradicated?
When the coronavirus was initially growing into a global pandemic, we helped many of our customers modify their check-in procedures to ask screening questions of anyone entering their office or facility to ensure that they hadn’t visited a high-risk COVID-19 hotspot within a 14-day period.
With every country and state now affected by the virus’ spread and no more ‘hotspots’ per se, business leaders must now figure out how to reduce potential exposure risk in an environment where new information comes out nearly every hour.
One way we’ve seen businesses approach this is by screening for the symptoms of COVID-19.
Many clients began asking questions of their guests and visitors such as:
- Are you experiencing coughing or shortness of breath?
- Have you had a fever within the last 14 days?
- Have you been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
High fevers were initially reported to be one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, thus the idea of taking temperature readings very quickly became an idea for businesses to screen for high-risk individuals. A whole new set of challenges arise in our world of 6-foot social distancing and limited human-to-human contact.
It is now widely accepted that temperature scanning is a largely ineffective way to tell if someone is COVID-19 positive or not. In fact, in a study performed on 5,700 COVID-19 hospitalized patients in New York City, only 30.7% of patients had a fever at the time of their initial triage.
Some businesses we’re talking to are considering implementation of temperature scanning to ensure they are doing everything they can in order to keep their visitors and employees safe.
In response to the early conversations we had with customers, we added the ability to log a visitor’s temperature into our product, as well as the ability to set signed agreements to expire. We continued to collaborate with our customers and have had numerous discussions internally about whether or not we build an integration between our visitor management system and various infrared and thermal temperature scanning devices.
With a lack of any governmental standards, we continue to research our options and have detailed discussions with our customers, but we’re not yet convinced enough to take action.
If your business is considering implementing temperature screenings for visitors to your office or facility as your doors begin to open again, we came up with a list of questions we recommend you address as part of your research:
- What employee(s) will assume the task of performing the temperature scans?
- What will it cost?
- How much temperature variance in readings am I willing to accept?
- Who will be in charge of calibrating the devices?
- Are there any privacy concerns?
- What other measures can I put in place to screen those who are asymptomatic and do not present with a fever?
We’ve spent a lot of time
Another key theme in our conversations and research has been the idea of contactless or touchless visitor check-ins.
The restaurant industry is leading the way in this area by offering curb-side pickup of orders placed by phone or online. Same with delivery services offering contactless drop-offs.
One of the biggest questions on our minds here at The Receptionist is: How important is a touchless check-in process for a visitor that will be in an office building typically for much longer than it takes to pick up a food order or drop off a package?
We’ve sent many customers boxes of stylus pens for their visitors to use when checking in on the iPad. Each stylus is used once before it is placed in a “used” box, which an employee disinfects throughout the day.
Other customers have begun requiring their employees to pre-register their visitors to reduce the amount of time each visitor spends at the iPad kiosk, and many customers have placed hand sanitizer dispensers and alcohol wipes next to each iPad stand for visitors to use after they’ve checked in.
We continue to explore ways to make these “touch reduced” scenarios actually touchless, as we believe that unlike temperature screening, touchless check-ins have application beyond just COVID-19 risk reduction.
The most critical thing we are considering is what will be most beneficial to our customers in both the short and long term for them to create a safe, healthy, and less chaotic visitor management experience for all.
You can help us! We’re running a survey to better understand how businesses are affected by COVID-19 and what steps they’re taking to ensure visitor and employee safety. You can add your voice by taking the survey.