By Mark Hazelwood, director & co-founder, Clenetix
Much of what we take for granted – going out for dinner or travelling into the office – has suddenly become risky. We mentally carry out a risk/reward analysis before leaving the house each day because we have suddenly been reminded of our own vulnerability. We have become hypervigilant to a virus, a threat we cannot see, hear, smell, or touch. Our perception of risk has changed, and with it, our understanding of risk prevention.
By bringing hygiene to the forefront of everyone’s minds, the pandemic has permanently changed the way cleaning is perceived. While cleaning services have long worked to provide added value, some clients still see the sector as a race to the bottom and are content with a base-level service. Anything above the fundamental services was at the mercy of procurement teams eager to cut costs.
Now, however, clients are forced to approach cleaning in much the same way as they do the security sector: with a focus on expertise and risk mitigation. The return to the office is an ongoing process which may last long into the coming year and cleaning is high up on organisations’ list of priorities. Cleaning staff are key frontline workers, and their hard work has kept the rest of us safe.
Demonstrating the value of cleaning services
Many traditional elements of cleaning provisions have already changed. Rather than scheduled rounds of buildings, cleaners are paying extra attention to high-risk areas and sanitising as needed.
Cleaning services may be a top priority, but organisations need to balance it with other factors such as efficiency. Cleaning and disinfection services need to take place more regularly, potentially placing a strain on resources, but any slip-ups will compromise an entire building. Comprehensive cleaning services have, in just a few months, become mission-critical.
In addition to keeping everyone safe, demonstrating excellent cleaning regimes is reassuring to members of the public and employees who may be experiencing ‘hygiene anxiety’. What was once very much a behind-the-scenes service will now provide a necessary and reassuring presence throughout the day.
Technology in modern cleaning services
High-end cleaning has been working to increase the value and efficiency of their services for years. Data-driven insights and innovative technologies have been driving these developments. Now, these technologies will become fundamental to cleaning in the post-Covid world.
Services that have been able to adapt to the pandemic’s challenges demonstrate how vital they are, and this resilience will be valued more so than ever before. Features of services that offer hard evidence to guide decision making will also become crucial. And this shift is set to highlight the power of technology and data analysis in matters of health and hygiene.
Technological innovation has been guiding efficiency in cleaning for some time. Integrated sensors, for example, can update cleaning staff when disposables such as paper towels are running low or when bins are full. Rather than taking time to check the resources at regular intervals, staff can attend to an issue only when necessary. Occupancy sensors can inform cleaning staff when an area has been used by more people than usual and may need additional cleaning. These technologies are flexible and have been adapted to address a number of challenges.
Now, they are being turned to those posed by the pandemic, with great effect: software as a service, designed to revolutionise cleaning in the workplace.
The value of data
Data analytics is the best way to demonstrate excellence in cleaning. As measures and risk change, organisations will need to alter the demand on their cleaning provision. Collecting real-time data enables facilities managers to make more informed decisions. For example, if an organisation works with limited areas of their portfolio, data collection can create a picture of cleaning across their buildings. It can be used to find the average cleaning provision required for spaces of different size, usage, and capacity, and to guide which spaces are opened accordingly.
Collecting data is the most reliable means of ensuring that all relevant compliance measures are met, too. In addition to streamlining the compliance process, these metrics can be used to demonstrate cleaning service excellence to staff members and clients, allaying any anxiety about returning to the workplace. Any issues that do arise or changes that need to be addressed will be spotted before they become an issue as real-time data collection can identify trends over weeks and months.
Cleaning is no longer a behind the scenes role. The very perception of cleaning services in the workplace has altered. Historically, innovation and creativity in the cleaning sector has been under-appreciated, with many clients opting for basic, traditional services. This won’t be the case going forward.
The cleaning industry now has a significant opportunity to decommoditise cleaning services and demonstrate it’s value and the importance of professional cleaning. The solution is in data. By monitoring and measuring what they do, cleaning teams can build a more solid business case and demonstrate to client organisations the numerous ways in which they can support and enhance business objectives, whether that’s keeping buildings virus-free or improving the long-term health and wellbeing of staff.
Cleaning is no longer an invisible service. Using data to great effect will ensure that it stays that way.
To read more about how data can demonstrate the power of cleaning, download your free copy of Clenetix’s white paper here.