This pandemic has made us hyper aware of those around us, which has led me to think a lot about visitor management. Our circles are much smaller, and we have little tolerance for strangers and crowds. We are extra cautious about who we choose to see on a regular basis. Asking for transparency from friends and family about who they’ve seen and where they’ve been recently is now a common practice—however, one that still feels painful and uncomfortable sometimes. In a time when seeing people feels like a crime, what do we expect from visitor management in multifamily buildings?
I have seen visitor management in action in a variety of different settings. I’ve had to stand in line to enter the supermarket so they don’t exceed the visitor capacity. Supermarket staff count each shopper as they go in to ensure there is room for social distancing in the store. Restaurants have applied a two-hour limit to customers to minimize the amount of time people linger in the space without a mask. I’ve had my temperature checked when entering stores, restaurants, airports, etc. However, multifamily buildings operate differently and, from my experience, don’t follow many of these now-commonplace visitor management protocols.
At the start of the pandemic, my building implemented 3 main restrictions in regards to visitors:
Residents are expected to follow these rules, but I have not seen them strictly enforced. In my building, visitors don’t have to have their temperature checked when arriving. There is no sign-in sheet to keep track of who comes into the building (although I know some apartments do this, even before COVID). Unless you have a big group of people using the amenity spaces, it is unlikely a building staff will come and tell you to leave. Also, if you arrive with your visitors, it is unlikely the security guard at the front desk will tell you you can only invite six of them up to your apartment.
These rules are enforced by an honor code system—and unless residents are blatantly breaking them, they will most likely get away with it. Moreover, if a resident has a dog sitter or family staying in their apartment while they’re away, who is to stop their visitor from using the amenities and roaming the building when they have access to a key and fob?
The truth is we all have different comfort and tolerance levels when it comes to this virus. After almost eight months of this pandemic, some of us have had to loosen our initial precautions that kept us indoors all the time. It’s important to acknowledge that while management staff in multifamily buildings are doing their best to keep residents safe, they cannot tell residents what to do. Some choose to avoid amenity spaces all together until cases go down. Others use these spaces more often than before because of the shift to working from home. Keeping track of all visitors feels like an impossible task, but here are a few things I would like to see my building implement:
That’s it. Very strict visitor management policies could drive away residents or spark discontent. But these small steps would go a long way in giving me peace of mind that all the people entering my building are healthy.
What do you think? What visitor management protocols have you seen implemented in your apartment building?
Ivana Gatica graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Fine Arts and Writing. For the past year, she has been working as a copywriter in the marketing and fintech spaces helping businesses find their unique voice. She also likes to take on freelance writing opportunities in her free time and loves to write fiction and poetry.