As companies plan their ‘’back to work’’ processes in 2021, there’s a lot that needs to take top priority besides employee health and safety; Gregory Blondeau, CEO and Founder at Proxyclick weighs in with his thoughts for the year in this chat with us:
Hi Gregory, tell us a little about yourself and the idea behind Proxyclick?
Going all the way back to the very beginning of my professional career, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. If you combine that goal with the extensive traveling I’ve done over the years, it makes sense that I’m now the Founder and CEO of a company like Proxyclick in the visitor management market. Throughout my travels to different offices around the world, it’s always been a concern that the greetings and treatment I received at the front desk of these locations were always lacking. In my experiences, security was practically non-existent and I never felt comfortable with the way my personal data was often exposed.
My sense was that if I’m uncomfortable with this situation, I’m sure my fellow travelers and business professionals are, too. So I used that discomfort to come up with a solution that would address this front desk welcoming and security shortcoming for the first time back in 2011. Today, I’m very proud to say that Proxyclick has become a genuine best-in-class visitor management solution for managing on-premise visits. It is a platform specifically designed to make the overall visitor experience as seamless and secure as possible with particular emphasis on preserving visitor privacy. We work with many of the largest global companies including L’Oreal, Vodafone, Airbnb and more. As we head into 2021, we’re continuing to expand aggressively in the US, which is our biggest market.
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What according to you are some of the biggest challenge organizations will face as they prepare to welcome people back to work from office in 2021?
I believe it will be instilling confidence in their employees that it is 100 percent safe to return to the office from a work from home situation. In my opinion that is the top priority. At the very core of that is every employer’s ability to truly secure the workplace, from both an employee perspective and a compliance perspective. That’s why we launched our latest solution Proxyclick Flow – a new end-to-end solution to help global companies of all sizes safely get their employees, visitors and contractors back into the workplace – all while respecting global privacy regulations. The fact is that the building technology – particularly at the enterprise level – has seen very little innovation over the years. We’re determined to disrupt the industry with Proxyclick Flow and more innovations in the future.
Tell us about the top HR technologies available today that can help HR executives plan for a safer and healthier workplace?
Absolutely. Proxyclick! Haha!
But I digress from the shameless plug. Let’s take, for example, two tech companies like Condeco and Vpod. Condeco’s renowned for their smart workplace scheduling technologies. They’ve got millions of users already, worldwide, as the go-to provider for corporate meeting room scheduling, desk booking, and all aspects of workplace management including contact tracing, and even facilitating cleaning after desks are utilized. Their meeting booking software allows seamless integration with calendars such as Outlook for on-the-go scheduling and adjustment via smartphone. VPod offers their proprietary Vgreet, visitors can securely check into a meeting on a business’s premises (the system can be optimized to use facial recognition, voice technology, or even thermal imaging). They are then guided to their destination via dynamic wayfinder technology and meeting room location features. Both Condeco and Vpod happen to work in tandem for a seamless workplace experience.
What are the biggest challenges organizations will face from a technology perspective?
I believe it will be centralizing all of the data from the flow of the people who enter, exit and move throughout a company’s premise. The good news is, IT executives no longer have to “rip out” entire systems of hardware to make things work. That’s what integrations are for. Companies have never had an easier time seeking out an easily accessible solution that won’t waste a lot of time and man-hours on complicated installation. Also, given the coming availability of the vaccine, managing all of this data while strictly adhering to data privacy practices will need to be streamlined.
How does your new technology fit into a businesses’ current stack?
Rather than just create another app for workplaces, we are tackling the problem comprehensively. Proxyclick Flow is made up of three components: 1) Flow Platform, 2) the Proovr mobile app, and 3) Flow Intelligence. The Proxyclick Flow Platform is what connects all the disparate systems across locations through 30+ integrations (and growing). Our Proxyclick Proovr App is the employee-facing component and serves as a digital ‘key’ to ensure that only healthy, approved individuals can enter offices in compliance with social distancing and capacity management requirements. Proxyclick Flow Intelligence is the system that processes and analyzes all of the data that flows through the Platform and App. It gives administrators, leaders and executives across HR/IT/Security granular insights on occupancy tracking, capacity management, and contact tracing all in a compliant and privacy-respecting manner so they can make informed decisions about their workplace and workforce management
We actually sat down recently with Brian Kropp, Group Vice President and Chief of HR Research at Gartner, to talk about the value of workplace tech like Proxyclick Flow. Mr. Kropp sees real value in “treating employees like stakeholders in the process, not just like workers in the process.” What better way to instill confidence and ensure success in your employee’s lifecycle, than to adopt technology meant to keep them safe and secure?
What role do you think HR should play in creating a safe environment for work today and moving forward?
I believe we need to first acknowledge that a safe environment for work also extends to our homes, because if this pandemic has taught us anything it’s that we’re all pretty resilient in our abilities to work from anywhere. It makes the return to the office that much more important. So HR leaders need to ensure employees’ (and all peoples’) safety but also acknowledge that there are new hybrid working models to be supported. They also have the challenge of making a workplace that employees want to come back to.
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Unfortunately, for the most part, today’s leaders just have complexity, not answers. Each location has different ways of handling employees vs visitors. Different locations have their own compliance and regulatory constraints. And technology decisions about access control, screening, compliance etc are made decentralized over the years. All of these compound each other to create massive complexity.
Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear a little about the employee culture and experience at Proxyclick; what steps are you implementing to ensure a safe return to work for your employees?
One of the feats I’m most proud of in 2020, as an organization, is the fact that we invested time and resources into building out a people experience team to support our employees. Ensuring our people have a positive experience while they are with us is incredibly important to us at Proxyclick. It’s true the pandemic sharpened our focus on what we actually needed to do to support everyone and maintain our culture. Our people experience team have been holding 1:1 check ins with every team member throughout the year to listen and help where they can, we’ve shared mental wellbeing resources and productivity tips now that we’re all 100% remote, and of course, we’ve been very focused on our own return to work as well. In fact, the process has taught me a few things. Seeing our people adopt our own technology and use our solution to pilot our Proxyclick Flow offering has been humbling and exhilarating at the same time. We have processes and procedures in place so that we were essentially the first “guinea pigs” in testing our new offering. Together with our people experience team, our managers have been able to fully onboard their own teams so that we’re fully prepared for our own return to the office as soon as lockdown measures are lifted. In the meanwhile, I’m happy to report that we had our first “virtual” remote working trip (in lieu of a real one due to the current travel restrictions all over the world) orchestrated by our people experience team. Connection was needed more than ever, across all the time zones our team lived in, and the event was a success.
Any parting advice for HR execs as they plan ahead for 2021?
Not unlike other industries that came before ours, tech is transforming the security and property world and creating a tremendous amount of value for those who invest in platforms like ours. With that in mind, I believe it is critical for HR executives to remain up-to-date on the latest tech solutions available. As we all move forward in building the future of work together, I predict we’ll see more sharing of best practices and collaboration across organizations, industries, and roles to ensure that people truly do come first.
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Gregory Blondeau is CEO and Founder of Proxyclick, a leading provider of enterprise visitor management software. Prior to Proxyclick, he spent a short decade between Munich, London and Paris, working for the Private Telecommunications Division of Siemens AG and nurturing his interest for European politics, culture, languages and way of living. He returned to Brussels in 2000, working in two start-ups before co-funding Proxyclick. Since then he has been working tirelessly to develop the business first in Belgium, then across Europe and in North America.