Fact Sheet

Office Administration Security

Keeping the office safe for staff and volunteers is an important part of office administration. One of the most common aspects of office life is the coming and going of visitors to the office. Handling of money and other valuables may be another day-to-day aspect of office activities. Security of parking lots, walkways and the perimeter around the office is yet another area of concern.

Nature of the Hazard

For security purposes, anyone who is not an employee — temporary employees, VIPs, consultants, contractors, volunteers and clients — should sign in upon entering the building and sign out when exiting. (People in uniform who visit daily can be waived: UPS, FedEx, USPS.) When in doubt, the greeter (receptionist or employee opening the door) might ask an unknown visitor for photo identification to verify the person is who he says he is. Record the driver’s permit number or other traceable number in case you need to follow up later. Some nonprofits are concerned about appearing unfriendly if they require visitors to log in and wear a visitor badge. However, if visitors aren’t required to wear identification badges while in your facility, then how do you tell the people who have legitimate business with your nonprofit from someone who just wanders in off the street? How do you know if someone in the hazardous chemical storage area has business there? How do you know who that unknown adult is on the playground? Perhaps your staff is small enough that they all know each other, but do they know by sight all the parents and guardians of the clients under your care?

Recommendations

Maintain a Visitor Log and record all visits in a visitor log. The log should include:

Identification

A visitor badge program helps quickly legitimize people in the building who aren’t staff. The badge says the visitor has signed in at the reception desk or guard station and provided information about who they are and what their business is. The visitor should be instructed to turn in the badge when signing out of the building.

Escorts

Requiring escorts for visitors to your facility, along with visitor logs and visitor badges, provides another level of protection for employees of your nonprofit. Consider instigating this practice if you serve a vulnerable population, or if it would be easy for visitors to get lost or “lose themselves” while navigating your facility. The receptionist or guard at the building entrance would phone or page the person being visited and ask the visitor to be seated until the escort arrives. The visitor log could have a space to indicate who the escort is for each visitor.

Resource

Oliver, Barbara B., Managing Facility Risks — 10 Steps to Safety, Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Washington, DC, 2004

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