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Down to a fine art: Churchill cleans at the Royal College of Art

At the beginning of the year, Churchill Contract Services won a contract to provide cleaning services to the prestigious Royal College of Art (RCA).

Placed as the top art and design university in the QS World Universities rankings for the fourth year running, the RCA plays host to almost 2000 postgraduate students. In addition, the university employs 500 permanent staff together with over 950 visiting lecturers. It is also recognised as being the most research-intensive specialist arts institution in the UK.

There are three campuses, each with their own distinctive character and each located in one of London’s most significant cultural hubs – Kensington, White City, and Battersea. With buildings designed by prolific architects such as modernist H T Cadbury-Brown, and iconic London landmarks such as the Royal Albert Hall for neighbours, the RCA is intrinsic to the capital’s buzzing creative atmosphere.

Needless to say when cleaning services at the RCA went to tender, the competition was fierce. It was soft FM multi-service provider, Churchill Contract Services, that came out on top and secured the contract. Churchill has well-established roots in the higher education sector, with contracts already in place at the likes of London South Bank and Regent’s University. Moreover, Churchill’s position as a premium service provider in the sector was solidified last year when the company was awarded a place in the London Universities Purchasing Consortium framework for cleaning services.

“We noted Churchill’s impressive reputation and high standard of work during the tender process, and we think they possess the specialist knowledge to maintain the specific requirements unique to the RCA”, said Errol Ali, Royal College of Art Operations Manager.

Churchill was clearly best placed to cater to the RCA’s requirements, and the contract began as of October last year.

Churchill’s knowledge in the sector, coupled with a proven track record in Transfer Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE), meant the RCA knew the contract was in safe and experienced hands. The TUPE process is a familiar one to Churchill; during 2016, the organisation transferred 461 sites under TUPE, including 3,792 staff – all with 100 per cent compliance. In the RCA’s case, 35 staff were successfully TUPE’d over the course of four weeks.

“Churchill’s TUPE process has been fine-tuned over years of experience” said Churchill Operations Director, Joe Saisi. “We ensure that due diligence is followed, whilst also going that extra mile to make employees feel welcome into the Churchill fold.”

One component of the process saw Churchill give all members of staff a BHSF booklet detailing the benefits they can take advantage of moving forward, such as discounts on grocery shopping, subsidised gym memberships and a 24-hour call line to a GP. This, in addition to the bread and butter processes of TUPE such as unveiling new uniforms, equipment, and innovations, were all rolled out as swiftly as possible to ensure that everyone could hit the ground running.

“Small details and gestures such as this show that we’re being proactive and taking real care, which in turn, we hope, assures new employees of our reliability as an employer” said Saisi.

“We also endeavour to instigate a cultural change with the employees. Namely, in appreciating the importance of our role in creating the optimum ‘student experience’.This was communicated via a kick-off meeting with all team members, and 121 consultations in total throughout the process. All of this contributes towards cultivating a ‘one team’ mantra that’s important to the way Churchill works.”

In terms of guidance, all 35 TUPE candidates were taken through site-based training, including extensive training on the new equipment they would be using, general HSEQ, and Churchill’s tailor-made toolbox talks.

Sustainability sits high on the RCA’s agenda, and the fact that Churchill could support the university’s green initiatives was key to securing the contract.

Churchill swiftly installed a Purex water system to produce chemical-free, de-ionised water for cleaning. The system is self-replenishing and is able to produce and hold up to 80 litres of water by passing tap water through reverse osmosis and/or de-mineralising bead filters, thus removing limestone, heavy metals, nitrates, chlorine, etc. The benefits of using pure water in the cleaning process are multiple; namely, pure water naturally tries to return to its impure state, so it therefore absorbs and removes dirt and bacteria efficiently to leave a residue-free finish on any surface.

The system is also 100 per cent sustainable, and thus in alignment with the RCA’s sustainability goals, with the added bonus of significantly reducing running costs in comparison to traditional cleaning methods. Perhaps most importantly, the system is user-friendly and easily integrated into the day to day cleaning processes of all staff.

This, in addition to other innovations, ensured a seamless transition from the incumbent to Churchill. Service delivery has now been optimised, and both Churchill and the RCA are collaborating on developing a long-term approach that will continue to cater to the RCA’s unique requirements.


About Sarah OBeirne

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