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Automating Reception: the Future of Meet and Greet

The traditional office building is undergoing an unexpected transformation as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis. Employees across multiple sectors have experienced working from home and consequentially, employers have realised that there are cost-efficiencies to be gained by thinking differently about how remaining office space is utilised.

Front of house Reception white building interior

An interesting concept is that of automating a reception space.  There are typically fewer people located in office buildings so arguably less need for a reception capability in the first place, however there is still a need to keep those colleagues who are present, as well as the building premises safe and secure.  There are also the routine tasks that remain, such as logging visitors, managing deliveries and dealing with call management. 

In light of the health crisis, social distancing and occupancy management are front of mind; digital solutions offer a risk-free alternative to creating a virtual environment which could be a beneficial compromise for employers looking to apply a more creative solution to a front of house offering.

Creating a superior reception experience

In the simplest terms, automating reception means introducing digital solutions to support the delivery of reception services.

This can be done to different degrees, from digitising the switchboard through an IVR (integrated voice response) that can interact with callers or offering visitors digital sign-in to an online visitor log book, through to an entirely human-free environment with a virtual presence delivered through screens and other technology.

Advances in technology mean there are now a variety of options available to streamline the reception experience as well as drive cost benefits through reduced headcount and improved processes.

automated reception person about to touch black Android tablet computer

Complete visitor management

There is a range of elements to consider when looking at an integrated, virtual reception offering:

Virtual receptionist: using motion-activated sensors, a virtual receptionist is a figure that appears on screen to greet visitors, provide the information they need through intuitive messages and touch-screen menu selections and then connects employees with visitors through audio or video calls. 

Visitor management: a digital approach to visitor management allows visitors to check-in, scan any required ID or supporting documents and undertake a site induction, all at the touch of a button.  Visitors can be scheduled in and even complete pre-registration before they arrive at the premises, or can check in when they arrive following a simple set of instructions to complete the process.  Employees are alerted when their visitor arrives and can either collect in person or provide additional instructions depending on the nature of the visit. You can read more here about: How footfall management is changing the footprint of building design.

Scan man holding smartphone in front of person in black leather jacket

Visitor verification: from remote visual verification to registration, ID validation, database screening, and visitor reports, there are many options available that allow companies to verify visitors during the check-in process.

Delivery management: a smart, connected virtual reception system can be programmed to differentiate between corporate visitors and delivery drivers and provide the appropriate instructions depending on the situation.  Deliveries, no matter how large or small, can be accepted into the right part of the building and virtually acknowledged, minimising the need for unnecessary contact and ensuring delivery drivers can drop and go without waiting in line to be attended to.

Delivery smiling man stands behind delivery truck

Interactive information: The clever use of widgets means employees and visitors alike can interact with a virtual reception set-up to browse the web, view the latest news, book travel tickets or even access internal staff directories or policies. 

Covid-19 compliance: In light of enhanced hygiene regimes, social distancing and restricted occupancy, it’s more important than ever to limit unnecessary interactions – a digital setup can support these measures and more by ensuring new visitors to site are aware of any preventative measures in place, ensuring hand sanitisation takes place and even using thermal scanning technology to identify signs of a temperature or other virus indicators before allowing access into the premises.

Data and commercial considerations

Many systems boast high levels of data security and privacy in compliance with GDPR, meaning any data stored on the system can be removed quickly and simply.  This consolidated approach to visitor management also means there is an audit trail of movement in and out of a building as well as access to comprehensive management data and metrics to build a greater understanding of how an office environment is being used.

The commercial business case also stacks up, with virtual receptions costing around 75% less to run per year than a more traditional reception set up.  It’s estimated that over 90% of reception tasks can be automated, meaning only light-touch human support is needed to create a working virtual reception.

Broadening the concept of reception

The term reception is often synonymous with an office building but the concept applies much wider. 

Hospitals and doctors surgeries are already early adopters of virtual reception technology with many using it to divert check-ins away from the busy reception staff, freeing them up to deal with issues that require human skill, expertise and emotion. 

person using white tablet computer

Schools, universities and other academic institutions have a need to manage the flow of staff, students and visitors within each of their buildings for safety as much as anything.  A virtual reception set-up allows this to be achieved at any time of day with the same standard of service, a positive experience for the user and knowledge that the correct process has been adhered to.

In retail, many interactions post-Covid are based around click and collect services, including returns, all of which can be managed by a virtual set-up that identifies an individual, tracks their order and administers the action needed – directing to a collection locker or printing the labels needed to facilitate a return.  

A holistic approach to building management

For those looking to deploy an automated reception solution, there are a number of opportunities to integrate this into a smart system of building management.  This could incorporate building security, footfall management and even computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) to give a full, turnkey approach to building oversight. 

Aside from the fact that lots of businesses are struggling with empty-reception syndrome, visitors have decided to stay away as much as possible, preferring virtual meetings instead.  In turn, this has left businesses exploring what their future property strategy looks like with potential closures and repurposing all on the table. 

Whether shared, flexible or full-occupancy buildings, workplaces can derive real benefit from a virtual reception set-up.  With a personable and safe service alongside significant cost-savings, it’s technology worth understanding.

SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property

We speak to businesses and organisations of all sizes every day who turn to RFM for advice about how to upgrade and adapt their properties. Download our Free guide to the SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property, and you can learn how the workspace has evolved, and understand how you can benefit from our Smart Thinking.

Automated and Virtual Reception FAQ

1. What is an automated reception system?

An automated reception system utilizes technology to manage visitor interactions and tasks typically handled by a human receptionist, such as visitor check-in, information dissemination, and appointment scheduling.

2. How does a virtual reception system work?

A virtual reception system employs digital tools to facilitate visitor management, including touchscreen interfaces, tablets, and software solutions, offering a seamless and efficient way to handle reception tasks.

3. What is a virtual receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is an AI-powered or digital solution that performs receptionist tasks remotely, such as welcoming visitors, providing information, and managing appointments.

4. What are the benefits of using a virtual receptionist?

Virtual receptionists offer 24/7 availability, reduce wait times, enhance visitor experience, and streamline reception tasks, ultimately improving overall efficiency.

5. How does a touch screen visitor log book solution enhance reception management?

A touch screen visitor log book solution digitizes visitor check-ins, making the process more efficient and secure while maintaining a user-friendly experience.

6. How can an automated receptionist system improve office operations?

An automated receptionist system simplifies visitor check-ins, reduces administrative burden, and ensures a consistent and professional reception experience.

7. What role does reception technology play in modern workplaces?

Reception technology encompasses various digital tools like touch screen interfaces, tablets, and software that optimize reception processes, enhancing both visitor interactions and operational efficiency.

8. What is the meaning of “building reception”?

Building reception refers to the area where visitors are greeted and assisted upon entering a facility. It sets the tone for a visitor’s experience and provides essential information about the organization.

9. How can a virtual receptionist be integrated into a business’s visitor management process?

A virtual receptionist can be seamlessly integrated into visitor management systems, handling tasks like check-ins, notifications to hosts, and directing visitors to their destinations.

10. What is a turnkey virtual reception solution?

A turnkey virtual reception solution offers a complete and ready-to-use package for implementing a virtual receptionist system, minimizing setup complexities.

11. How much does a virtual receptionist cost?

Virtual receptionist costs vary based on features, customization, and service providers. Generally, they offer cost savings compared to traditional in-person receptionists.

12. How can I manage a busy reception area effectively?

Managing a busy reception area involves utilizing digital tools, optimizing workflows, and potentially implementing an automated receptionist to ensure smooth visitor flows.

13. Can a virtual receptionist be used in healthcare settings?

Yes, a virtual receptionist can be utilized in healthcare settings to manage patient check-ins, appointment scheduling, and provide essential information.

14. What is a digital reception desk?

A digital reception desk refers to a technologically enhanced area where visitors can interact with touchscreen displays or tablets to complete check-ins and access information.

15. How can I create a welcoming environment for visitors without a physical receptionist?

Implementing a virtual receptionist, setting up clear signage, and ensuring accessible information can help create a welcoming environment even without a physical receptionist.

16. What does “arrived to reception” mean in the context of visitor management?

“Arrived to reception” indicates that a visitor has reached the designated reception area and is ready to check in or receive assistance.

17. How does a virtual meet-and-greet system work for office spaces?

A virtual meet-and-greet system facilitates remote interactions between hosts and visitors, allowing hosts to welcome and guide visitors virtually.

18. Can a virtual receptionist be used in real estate settings?

Yes, a virtual receptionist can be applied in real estate to manage property tours, greet clients, and provide property information.

19. What are the key features of a reception management system?

A reception management system may include visitor check-in, badge printing, host notifications, visitor data collection, and reporting capabilities.

20. How does an electronic reception system enhance security?

An electronic reception system securely captures visitor information, provides access control, and ensures compliance with safety protocols.

21. What is a “smart” reception area?

A smart reception area incorporates IoT devices and advanced technology to automate processes, enhance visitor experiences, and improve overall efficiency.

22. What are the benefits of using a virtual receptionist in a manufacturing environment?

In a manufacturing setting, a virtual receptionist can handle visitor access, and safety protocols, and communicate important information effectively.

23. How can a building receptionist assist in managing a group of visitors?

A building receptionist can manage group check-ins, provide directions, and coordinate visitor activities, ensuring a smooth experience for all visitors.

24. How can I welcome visitors effectively in an office space with shared receptionist services?

In shared office spaces, clear communication, well-defined protocols, and potentially a virtual receptionist can help ensure a positive visitor experience.

25. How do I integrate a virtual receptionist into my office space?

To integrate a virtual receptionist, assess your needs, choose suitable technology, customize settings, provide training, and ensure ongoing support for seamless implementation.

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SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property

We speak to businesses and organisations of all sizes every day who turn to RFM for advice about how to upgrade and adapt their properties. Download our Free guide to the SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property, and you can learn how the workspace has evolved, and understand how you can benefit from our Smart Thinking.

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