The pandemic has changed cleaning. Our appreciation of cleaning operatives, the perceived value of the service they provide has grown and the perception of it has changed from a conventional service to an essential service that makes a real contribution to the wellbeing and health of employees. The last 18 months have seen a sea change in cleaning services, not only the perception of the service but also what cleaners are doing and how to consistently ensure the safety of employees through good hygiene practices. Cleaning services now come under greater scrutiny and are less likely to been seen as a cost-cutting area.
Knowing how the virus is transmitted has affected our perception of cleaning and definitions of clean. Previously it was enough to know that the cleaner had been to a premises. Now, our facilities managers receive additional feedback from building occupants on the cleaning services that we provide, and clients seek out more detail on what was done, when and how. Our heightened awareness of cleanliness now means that we take more notice of the surfaces we touch, we use hand sanitiser frequently and take an interest in how often our work environment is being cleaned. The effect of this increased awareness has resulted in the need for cleaners to be a visible presence in the work environment. Their presence offers a reassurance that cleanliness is taken seriously and that an employer cares. Cleaning services have come greater scrutiny since the start of the pandemic.
The awareness of the necessity to have a clean work environment has also encouraged individual workers to take more responsibility for their personal spaces. As a result, some employers are providing employees with access to cleaning products should they need them.
Frequent cleaning also helps employees feel safer. The increased demand for cleaning has meant that the frequency of cleaning common areas is now twice daily (as per the Work Safely Protocol).
The Future of Cleaning
As appreciation of the importance of cleaning has grown, some of the changes of the last 18 months are likely to remain. The changes that will become more permanent according to our facilities managers are likely to include cleaning common areas twice a day, a heightened awareness of cleaning touchpoints such as light switches and door handles, hand sanitiser being present and regular cleaning of frequently touched spaces (bathrooms and kitchenettes.)
Other changes that will benefit cleaning in the future include the use of technology to improve our understanding of our clients’ needs. On demand cleaning is relatively new, however, it has several benefits for the client. The most noticeable benefits include that the cleaner can focus on areas where they are needed most, the technology used for on demand cleaning can provide real time information to cleaners and a solution to clients who have areas of their building that are more frequented than others. Additional benefits include reducing non-essential cleaning rounds and increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction with cleaning standards.
Get the Easy Things Right
The most consistent feature of the last 18 months has been the changes that the pandemic has brought and continues to create. However, the need to ensure the cleanliness of our work environment is one area of which we can expect continued awareness. Cleaning services are one of the ways to make a work environment safer for employees. Taking an organised approach to getting the cleaning done efficiently and effectively is a good starting point. When asked, our facilities managers gave these suggestions as ways to begin.
According to our facilities managers the easiest things to get right are:
- Plan: Having a detailed schedule for cleaning operatives to follow will mean that priority can be given to areas with heavy footfall.
- Communicate: Provide clear instructions and training will ensure that fewer mistakes and
- Know the space: Ensure regular cleaning of shared spaces and frequent touchpoints
- Timing: Ensure adequate hours are assigned for the cleaning to be completed
The need for cleaning services is growing. Clients take a greater interest in the services that are being provided, which means we receive more feedback. As a result, we are more responsive to our client’s needs. Advances in technology will help drive forward more efficient cleaning. Although it is not widespread yet, on demand cleaning will be part of the future of cleaning and will mean that cleaners will concentrate on the areas that need it most.