The WhosOnLocation Blog

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Media Release: MRI Software Acquires WhosOnLocation, adding global workplace safety and security offering

3 minutes read time

PropTech category founder bolsters its workplace management capabilities with addition of integrated set of employee, visitor and contractor management applications

Solon, Ohio – March 4, 2021MRI Software, a global leader in real estate software, announces that it has acquired New Zealand-based WhosOnLocation, which provides an integrated solution that empowers organizations to address workplace safety and security needs. An enterprise-class, cloud-based platform with employee, visitor, contractor and emergency management applications, WhosOnLocation extends MRI’s workplace management offering to cover anyone who might have a physical presence on a commercial property, including industries such as manufacturing, services, and education.

“We are excited to welcome WhosOnLocation to the MRI family at a time when ensuring wellbeing and safety in the workplace is more critical than ever,” says Patrick Ghilani, Chief Executive Officer of MRI Software. “The acquisition enhances the comprehensive capabilities of our integrated workplace management solutions to enable the increased business agility organizations need to reimagine their workplaces. WhosOnLocation boosts our ability to support health and security measures, covering both landlords and tenants, as well as the wider community that engages with a property – reducing risk for everyone.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to an increased need for agile workplaces, WhosOnLocation enables organizations to manage presence by tracking who is onsite at a property – or across multiple locations – at any time. The solution brings additional automation and efficiency to workplace safety and security management with arrival notifications, access permissions, emergency and evacuation management, and more. WhosOnLocation’s global client base will benefit from the added resources and innovation that come with being part of a well-established industry leader.

Darren Whittaker-Barnett, WhosOnLocation’s Chief Executive Officer, notes: “MRI offers the scale and global reach we need to accelerate the growth of our business in both our existing markets and new territories. Becoming part of MRI also offers our customers the opportunity to tap into its broad range of innovative workplace management solutions, which enable organizations of all types to more effectively manage their real estate portfolios and meet today’s unique business challenges.”

Used by facilities management teams, property managers and others involved in building operations to manage visitor, employee and service provider presence, WhosOnLocation manages nearly 5,000 facilities for 1,600 customers across 46 countries. Headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand, the company also operates in Australia, the UK, Europe, Canada and the US. MRI will continue to support WhosOnLocation users without interruption.

GrowthPoint Technology Partners, a Silicon Valley-based investment bank, acted as the exclusive financial advisor to WhosOnLocation.

About MRI Software

MRI Software is a leading provider of real estate software solutions that transform the way communities live, work and play. MRI’s comprehensive, flexible, open and connected platform empowers owners, operators and occupiers in commercial and residential property organisations to innovate in rapidly changing markets. MRI has been a trailblazer in the PropTech industry for over five decades, serving more than two million users worldwide. Through leading solutions and a rich partner ecosystem, MRI gives real estate companies the freedom to elevate their business and gain a competitive edge. For more information, please visit mrisoftware.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Platform Communications for MRI

Hugh Filman (+44 7905 044850)

or Zoe Mumba (+44 7725 832393)

mri@platformcomms.com

(US for MRI)

Rachel Antman rachel@saygency.com

+1 212-362-5837

Read more.

5 minutes read time

5 signs your visitor management system isn’t working

Do your visitors seem calm, stressed, or confused in your lobby? Do you use 1 step or 5 steps to let staff know their visitor has arrived? Can you send alerts to your visitors when they are in the building, such as during an evacuation? Put simply, is your visitor management system delivering the basics in safety for the people you are responsible for? Here are 5 signs you need to update your visitor management process:

  1. Your visitors always seem on edge

Do you ever get visitors walking through your door flustered (and running late)? Do you hear comments like, “It took me ages to find your office,” or “sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find a park and the traffic was really bad”? Prevent comments like these and keep your visitors happy by giving them as many details as you can upfront. Send them some information before they even get there. Send them a map with your address, give them parking tips, and tell them about the best cafe on your street. If there’s often bad traffic, warn your visitors about it and tell them the best shortcut. You can’t make sure someone isn’t late but you can make sure your visitors have the details that will make their visit easier.

  1. People get confused by your reception area

Is arriving at your lobby or foyer an awkward experience for a visitor? If it’s hard for your visitors to work out what to do when they walk in, who to speak to, and where to go from there, you have a problem. We all know what it feels like to visit somewhere for the first time and have no idea what to do or where to go. Make your visitor’s experiences the most straight-forward it can be by installing a front-of-house sign-in kiosk. Put your company’s branding on the kiosk and have a clearly displayed sign-in, sign-out button, then mention your kiosk in the email you send pre-visit. A sign-in kiosk can go a long way to making your visitors feel comfortable. Use it to ask who they are there to see and why, then brief them on your health and safety policy and tell them where the bathroom is. If done right, there won’t be any more visitors wandering around wondering what to do, they will have all the information they need at their fingertips.

  1. Employees don’t know their guests have arrived

How do you let a staff member know when his or her visitor has arrived? Do you have to run around the office looking for Jim to tell him his 10am appointment is here? Your time is too precious and Running a reception is busy enough without having to track down employees every 5 minutes. A study by WhosOnLocation across 100 reception areas around the world showed it took receptionists on average, 1 minute and 8 seconds to track down a host of a visitor using a paper visitor register or book. Automatically send a text message to a host when they sign-in. Send an email too if you want. Copies could be sent to Jim’s assistant or your security guard, you can decide who should know when someone signs in.

  1. There’s no way to send alerts to your visitors

If your parking lot was flooding would you know who’s parked there? Could you quickly send a message to everyone to let them know? Keep your stress levels as low as possible (as low as they can be when you have a building full of people and a flood on your hands) and easily update your visitors with a notification (email or txt) sent from your visitor management system. If your current system doesn’t let you alert everyone to these types of incidents (like a parking lot underwater), it’s not the right one. The best visitor management systems tell you who’s on site and contact who you need when you need to.

  1. Emergency evacuations are a disaster

Are drills or evacuation events seamless or a shambles at your organization? Do you know exactly who was on-site when you exited the building and can you tell who’s missing from the crowd outside? If you can’t say with certainty who’s on-site in real-time and if you don’t have a way to check that everyone is ok, your evacuation management system needs updating. You could try using an evacuation app that links up to your sign-in kiosk and visitor management system. Get your sign-in kiosk to send a list of employees, contractors and visitors on-site to your app and quickly do a roll-call from your mobile device. If someone isn’t present, send them a message to ask if they are safe. Then get more details if they aren’t. Knowing everyone, including visitors, is safe and accounted for during an emergency evacuation is what a good visitor management system is all about.

Managing your visitors effectively doesn’t have to be hard work to implement and maintain. Update your system with one that works best for your organization. Make life easier for yourself and your visitors and while you’re at it, make your business a safer place to be. Have an obvious, easy to use and effective sign-in process. Send your visitors all the information they need to know pre-visit and let hosts (or their assistants) know when their visitors have arrived. And, if there’s an emergency, make sure everyone is safe and accounted for. Introduce a visitor management system that actually works and your visitors will love you for it.

5 minutes read time

Are your visitors’ first impressions the kind you want to last?

Updated 3 July 2017

WhosOnLocation CEO Darren Whitaker-Barnett talks about how your business could make a better impression (and in turn win over clients) with visitor management software.

What sort of first impression does a visitor to your organization get? Do you go out of your way to make visits quick, easy and friendly? Do you go above and beyond to make your visitors feel special?

First impressions are the mental image someone forms on a first encounter, made early on, they tend to last. If yours aren’t that great they will damage your reputation, brand, and customer relationships. Bad first impressions will lose you clients and contracts. Make no mistake, bad visitor management is bad for your bottom line.

When it all goes wrong

Gary has planned to meet Tim, the CEO of #1 Contractors Ltd, to talk about a contract tender. At least he thinks he is. The pair had decided on a meeting at a conference two weeks ago so Gary wrote it in his diary. But Gary isn’t sure if Tim has remembered, because when he tried to phone to confirm, the call didn’t go through. It’s too bad there was no response to the email he sent Tim either.

So Gary finds their address online and heads to the meeting anyway, wandering around for five minutes looking for #1 Contractors’ office. When he finally finds their front door, it’s locked, so he waits outside for another five minutes. It’s now long past their supposed meeting time of 1.15 pm. Tim walks through the door just as an unimpressed Gary is about to leave.

They do end up having a meeting which goes surprisingly well, after all, Gary thinks Tim’s a great guy. But unfortunately, this meeting will be their last. Gary’s first impression of #1 Contractors is so poor that he is really reluctant to do business with them. He certainly won’t be bringing them on board to handle their next major road project. Not only did Gary waste valuable time but the whole visitor experience at #1 Contractors showed him they may well have had major problems in getting the job done.

A good approach

June has planned to meet a lawyer for the first time. It didn’t take her long to walk to their offices as she knew exactly where she was going. This is because she had an email two days before with all of the meeting details; date, time, and a map. As a friendly gesture they had even included information about the best café nearby.

When June walks into the firm’s lobby she doesn’t see anyone but can’t miss the visitor sign-in kiosk. The kiosk is a touch tablet with the firm’s branding on it asking her to ‘Please Sign-In’. June thinks this is quite flash. She finds the sign-in process quick and easy, filling out her contact details, who she is there to meet and any special requirements. To June’s surprise, she is also asked if she would like something to drink. A cup of tea, milk with no sugar, would be great. Around three minutes after she has signed in a receptionist appears with her cup of tea and to let her know the lawyer will be with her soon.

June is blown away by her first encounter with this law firm. She thinks they’re smart, modern, efficient, and most of all friendly. After this first impression, and provided they do a good job, this firm will have June as a client for life.

First impressions visitor

First impressions last

In business first impressions can make or break an organization’s bottom line. Gary won’t be working with #1 Contractors now or in the future. He has given the road project tender to a company that gave him a better first impression. From those first impressions, he can tell the chosen company will be easier to work with. Whether #1 Contractors realizes it or not, they lost out on a potential multi-million-dollar contract because of their visitor management issues.

In contrast, June is likely to be a long-term client of her new law firm. Their visitor management system gave her an amazing first impression and customer experience. June will most likely generate new referrals too as she tells everyone about the great customer service she gets at her lawyers.

How to do it right

According to Cameron Studio, there are four first impressions people make when they visit your organization;

1. Ease of finding you

2. Sense of arrival

3. Efficient use of technology

4. Bathrooms

June’s law firm ticks all of these boxes by using visitor management software with a sign-in kiosk. Of course, a computer can’t clean the bathroom for them (yet), but it can tell a visitor directions to the toilet. And it can be used to alert Sam the receptionist to high-number visitor days, so she remembers to check restroom supplies in the afternoon.

Have a long, hard think about the first impressions your business creates. Are there areas you are lacking in that could be improved? Start with how easy it is for visitors to find you and work your way from there. Run a ‘first impressions test’: Invite a friend to meet you at your organization and tell you in-depth about their first impressions. Were they positive? Do they sit well with you? Are they the kind you want to last? Most importantly, do they win you contracts and encourage your clients to stay long-term?

If the answer is no, there are many ways to go make a change and start making great first impressions. For example, you could renovate your reception area, or make changes to artwork and lighting.

Another way to impress your visitors is by using a sleek visitor management system like WhosOnLocation. Using visitor management software you can create memorable and positive first impressions, the kind that you will be happy to last forever.

5 minutes read time

6 Tips for better Evacuation Management

Updated 3 July 2017

Test evacuations always work, but would your systems crumble in a real emergency? Here are 6 ways you can strengthen your evacuation management process.

You don’t want to wait until after an evacuation to discover that your evacuation process failed. That first responders have found people needing assistance, trapped in lifts, or injured on the 8th floor when, upon their arrival, you advised them that all zones were clear and all people accounted for. You want to make sure that the integrity of the information you pass to first responders is of the highest standards.

Most organizations are obligated to carry out evacuation of location tests at least once per year, if not more. It typically coincides with the fire alarm test schedule. However the issue with evacuation tests are that they are exactly that; tests. They cannot mirror a real emergency event.

The test evacuation always works, it gets a pass. Why?

  • it is a planned event
  • employees are normally advised in advance of date and time
  • there is typically one or several safety marshals available to clear each floor because the fire alarm test was planned.
  • the reason for the evacuation is clear because the fire alarm went off
  • there is no smoke to fill the lungs of people on-site, no fire or explosions to contend with, and no gas leak, and no armed offender roaming the corridors.
  • there is no real panic, no one is rushing, and there is no collapsed building or floor to navigate past as you evacuate
  • the receptionist always remembers to grab the visitor book and there is really no real need to truly validate that the visitors actually got out to the assembly point because it’s a test after all – it’s not real
  • employees on-site are seldom actually accounted for because we rely on the safety marshal to advise us that their zone or area is clear of people.

But in a real emergency:

  • there is fire and brimstone
  • there are gas leaks
  • floors collapse
  • people rush and panic
  • employees often leave the situation of risk immediately
  • safety Marshals can be on leave and their backups may not be on-site at the time
  • if they are on-site they may not be sitting at their station ready to clear their zone
  • employees are not accounted for because no one is tracking who is on-site and even if they are no one can access the systems that account for them from the carpark assembly point
  • visitor books are often illegible with visitor first names scribbled poorly at best.

Here are 6 tips that we believe will strengthen your evacuation management process:

1.  Deploy systems which can be accessed from outside the situation of risk, that allow you to see who is on-site at the time of an evacuation. A system that records not only visitors, but employees, contractors, and other people types. WhosOnLocation’s WolEvac is one such system.

2. Practise un-announced evacuations and measure the total time it takes to evacuate your location. Do not advise the safety marshals of the evacuation test.

3. Record performance – Record the date and time of when the evacuation took place, and how many people were on-site at the time, whether there were any people that needed assistance to evacuate, if there were any visitors on-site, and how long it took to clear the zones and account for all people. WhosOnLocation’s WolEvac supports post-evacuation event reporting.

4. Benchmark and create best practise – use this information to benchmark one evacuation event against another. Ask yourself; is your evacuation process more effective at 9am, lunchtime, or 4pm. Is it more effective when visitors are not present? Are there any common traits that are consistently occurring when your safety marshals clear their zones and then account for people slower than your average?

5. Practise ‘what if’ scenarios. What if the safety marshals are not accounted for themselves? How would you be able to account for people? What if the reason for the evacuation is not obvious – no fire alarm. How do you broadcast to employees and visitors that they should evacuate now? How do you account for those contractors working on the roof? How do you manage hazardous substances exposure? What if the visitor or contractor sign-in book is NOT brought out to the assembly point? What if it is dark and no power?

6. Neighborly collaboration – You should not plan for an emergency incident or evacuation in isolation. Identify how neighboring businesses or organizations can provide assistance immediately after an evacuation. The type of incident will dictate whether your neighbors will have to serve as stand-in safety marshals. What neighboring businesses have first aid kits, qualified CPR practitioners etc.

Try WhosOnLocation free today

In order to keep your people safe in an emergency, you must know where they should be and then be able to quickly verify their safety. WhosOnLocation evacuation management helps you do just this.

The evacuation management feature is included in all of the WhosOnLocation packages at no extra cost. Sign-up for a free 30-day trial to see how WolEvac can help you better manage your evacuations and keep your people safe.

3 minutes read time

Why tracking Hazard Warning Acknowledgements is a must

The cost of being prosecuted for a breach of workplace safety regulations runs far deeper than paying a fine.

Other than the obvious human cost, should any person suffer an injury or worse; there is also brand and reputation damage, a lowering in employee confidence, an unwillingness for contractors to provide services on-site, the direct cost of putting it right (employee training, internal costs of reviews etc…), the consequential costs on your organization’s insurance premiums, and a lowering of investor confidence.

Organizations may also suffer a loss of sales, as many customers have their own policies prohibiting them from sourcing services and products from suppliers who cannot demonstrate a good workplace safety record.

The cost of a fine is only the beginning

Workplace safety regulators must consider many factors when looking to proceed with a prosecution for a breach of law.

You can do everything by the book when it comes to your compliance obligations but there is often one element of workplace safety practice that is commonly overlooked and it may cost you more than you think.

Do you have evidence to present to the investigator showing an employee, visitor, or contractor understood and acknowledged a hazard notice?

Signs, labels, hazard boards, and emails are commonly used tools for informing people of potential hazards and risks.

Collectively they address the ‘minimize’ element of hazard management best practice where there is an obligation to ‘inform’ people of hazards.

But how does an employer prove someone has read and understood that hazard notice?

 

There are solutions

You can require that all employees, visitors, and contractors add their signature to a Hazard Sheet, then date and time stamp it for auditing if required at a later date. Can you be sure if the legibility of the person’s handwriting stacks up in court if it comes to that?

If you send an email you can add a ‘read receipt’ when the email notification is delivered and the recipient opens (and presumably reads) it. This may prove the person opened the email but not that they have necessarily read it.

Both practices are better than nothing at all but they are difficult to audit and track on any scale.

WhosOnLocation users can post hazard warnings to employee and/or contractor’s mobile phones requiring them to acknowledge the hazard when they arrive on-site.

Notices can also be posted for visitors, contractors, and employees to acknowledge when signing in at a visitor kiosk.

A date and time stamp of every acknowledgement is available for auditing at a later date should the need require it.

 
 

It’s about reducing workplace injuries, improving workplace safety, and reducing your exposure to breaches

Tracking the acknowledgement of hazard notices is not explicit in any law, but not doing so opens you up to he said | she said arguments should they arise.

If having a robust process for ensuring your people are ‘informed’ of hazards, enables you to track their acknowledgement, you may just save yourself more than a few bucks.

 

 

4 minutes read time

Why Contractor timesheet lies are a bad thing and cost everybody money

The contractor-timesheet

Every day millions of contractors record the amount of time spent on-site (through a contractor-timesheet), performing a task, and completing a job. Recently one of our customers explained how contractor costs reduced by over 18% after switching from a system of trust, where the contractor issued an invoice based on the time they say they spent performing the task, to an electronic sign-in system.

Recently one of our customers explained how contractor costs reduced by over 18% after switching from a system of trust (where the contractor issued an invoice based on the time they say they spent performing the task) to an electronic sign-in system.

At the same time, they also saw a reduction in performance and delivery from their contractors.

What happened, and could it be fixed?

Prior to the roll-out of the electronic system, contractors would complete a task and then fill out a timesheet for their employer. The employer would then turn that timesheet into an invoice to the customer.

After the roll-out of the electronic contractor management system, contractors signed in on arrival and signed out on departure. The customer, not the contractor, sent the total time spent on-site to the contractor’s employer. And then the invoice was generated which would reconcile against the contractors total time spent on-site.

Initial delight

Initially, our customer saw an average 18% drop in contractor costs in the first quarter but the level of services requested had not reduced.

The customer carried out a review and determined that the average job was taking 20% less time to complete post the electronic system roll-out. After reconciling what they might have saved by deploying the electronic system 12 months earlier, a staggering $450,000 in savings would have been realized.

So they were getting more bang for their dollar – but were they?

The aftershock

The review also uncovered a surprising consequence of the reduced costs; the response times from many contractors had unfortunately dropped down to the agreed minimum Service level agreement (SLA) standards – in other words these contractors were no longer exceeding SLA’s.

What can we assume from this?

We know the customer negotiated hard (they told us as much), achieved a price point and terms they were happy with. We know the contractor accepted the terms but we don’t know if they were completely happy once they signed the agreement. We can only guess that they needed the work and did not want the competition securing the contract, and as a consequence probably accepted a slightly lower rate than what they wanted.

For the next 12 months our customer believes:

  1. The contractors either embellished their time on-site to their employer who issued an inflated invoice reflecting the recorded time on-site; or
  2. They recorded their time accurately and then the employer added additional time to the invoice (probably to reflect their true cost and a fairer margin for delivering the service).

Post the electronic system roll-out our customer believes:

  1. The contractors were faced with very open and transparent data being sent to them about how long their people were on-site for meaning;
  2. They had no choice but to issue invoices that reflected the actual time spent on-site.
  3. But they were now not profitable or they were but only just. So they delivered the service they were contracted to provide but no longer felt it necessary to delight their customer or exceed the customer’s SLA’s – and reverted to working to rule.

The consequences

Our customer has changed the way it enters contract and supplier negotiations as clearly the cost of driving down the price whilst expecting a gold-plated SLA was significant. They renegotiated all of their major contracts and as a result, all parties are better off.

Contractors and suppliers were also better off as the true cost to them to deliver their service became apparent meaning they are able to cost future work more accurately.

Side Note:

Our customer mentioned to us that if you believed the cost of having a service delivered to your business is ‘X’ dollars but that number came about from inflated invoices or low-cost rates won at the negotiation table, you were not well positioned to evaluate the market for benchmarking come contract renegotiation time.

3 minutes read time

3 tips for providing great visitor experiences at reception

There is much more to great visitor experiences than a well-designed reception area with soft seating, the morning paper, mints on the counter, and an offer of tea, coffee, or water. Whilst all of these get a tick in the must do’s column the investment is wasted if the visitor has to wait longer than 2 minutes to be issued a pass, and their host notified of their arrival.

A great way to keep your visitors happy (and reduce visitor wait times) is to make the visitor welcoming experience and sign-in process seamless, fast, and easy to do. We know most visitors do not like signing into a visitor book or an electronic sign in system. In fact, our research tells us that over 75% of visitors believe the hosting organization should already have them registered – because the visit was scheduled.

Here are three tips for giving your visitors a great reception experience, regardless of whether you are a small, medium, or large multi-national business.

1: Pre-register Visitors

Empower your employees to pre-register their visitors. Whether they do so themselves or request reception do it for them, nothing beats that feeling when you walk into an organization and the receptionist says: “Welcome Mr/Mrs/Ms xxxxxxx, we have been expecting you”. Pre-registering gives reception teams visibility into who is due on-site, allowing them to plan for large groups, prepare seating, meeting rooms, drinks, passes, and car parks.

2: Pre-print Visitor Passes

Having visitor passes pre-printed is a simple courtesy the visitor will love. It shows you care, you are prepared, and reduces waiting times for signing in multiple visitors and large groups. Reception teams are way too busy to manually create visitor passes after the visitor signs in. Their focus should be on ensuring visitors are aware of site facilities and tending to their specific needs. The issuance of the visitor pass, even for a large group should be something that takes seconds, not minutes.

3: Keep the Visitor informed of their Host’s Arrival

From personal experience, it’s always comforting to know my host has been notified of my arrival and acknowledges they are on their way. I don’t feel a lot of love when the reception team ask me to “take a seat and they’ll let my host know I have arrived” – and then they don’t update me. Ten minutes goes by and still not a peep from the receptionist. A simple “John is aware you have arrived and will be down in 2 minutes” or “Sorry John is running a little late and will be here in 5 minutes. He sends his apologies. May I get you a coffee, tea, water?” – goes a long way to making visitors feel comfortable and at ease in your environment.

If you have some great tips for improving visitor experiences share them with us!