COVID-19’s Impact on Sustainability

Organizations committed to sustainability and their people will survive and prosper


The challenges of COVID-19 will forever change the cleaning industry. Fortunately, our destiny is in our own hands.

Now is the time to redefine who we are as an industry and rethink how we clean buildings to protect occupant health. Hopefully, we can strategically address the three basic pillars of sustainability: profits, people, and planet.

How does COVID-19 affect sustainability?

What makes sustainable cleaning different from green cleaning is its focus on the ethical treatment of workers. The pandemic highlights the importance of proper training and processes for cleaning personnel as their work is critical in helping to keep facilities safe from infectious pathogens. It also underscores the need to protect our front-line workers, making sure they are not overworked and have the right supplies and personal protective equipment to stay healthy while they perform their job. These concerns extend not only to in-house service providers, but also to contract workers.

Our customer base is changing

Another predicted result of COVID-19 is the demise of many small businesses as consumers increasingly turn to online retailers and big box stores, which are more likely to have the resources to adapt to the new reality and can offer online, in-store, and curbside pickup.

The need for commercial real estate space will shrink as more people work from home. Schools and universities will offer more online classes and have less students in brick and mortar classrooms, which will adversely impact companies focused on servicing these sectors. Sports, entertainment, and movie venues may only see partial reentry for months to come. These changes tie into sustainability as the economic recovery picks up because the cleaning customers that will survive and thrive are the big guys who have the resources and expertise to address the pandemic and adjust to the new reality. These customers also understand and have a growing interest in sustainability.

Rethinking our customer focus

According to the G&A Institute, more than 85% of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies are now publishing sustainability reports because they understand how important it is to their bottom-line and investors. It also will help to reduce risks within their supply chains, including their suppliers of cleaning products.

Organizations committed to sustainability, and to the well-being of people, will survive and prosper in light of COVID-19. Thus, these organizations should be the targets of future business strategies. To sell these organizations we must not only “talk the talk,” but “walk the talk” by developing a sustainability program and addressing the commitment to our profits, people, and planet. In the end, sustainability is a good strategy for the cleaning industry and one that will not only outlast COVID-19, but also make us stronger.

Posted On June 9, 2020

Stephen P. Ashkin

President, The Ashkin Group

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in green cleaning and sustainability. He can be reached at [email protected].

Topics Tags

Also in Business and Management

Setting Cleaning Staff Levels to Ensure Business Success
July 17, 2024 Allen P. Rathey

Setting Cleaning Staff Levels to Ensure Business Success

July 8, 2024 Jeff Cross

Beyond Generative Text: The Endless Capabilities of AI

July 8, 2024 Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner

Putting Data-Driven Cleaning Into Practice

June 26, 2024 Jeff Cross

Onboarding: The First Step to New Employee Success

Sponsored in Business and Management

June 20, 2024

Leveraging AI for Smarter Selling: Transforming Your Distribution Sales Team for Success

November 3, 2023 Sponsored by TRUCE Software

Safety: The Dirty Secret of the Cleaning & Maintenance Industries

August 29, 2023 Sponsored by Sofidel America

Sustainability—Every Step of the Way

September 29, 2017 Sponsored by ProTeam

GoFree Flex Pro Cordless Backpack Cleans Historic Theatre Pro Team

Recent News

Franchise Opportunities

FTC Warns Franchisors of Unfair Practices

Destructive, Deadly, and Record Weather Persists

5 New Cases of Bird Flu Identified in Colorado

COVID-19 Threat Grows This Summer

COVID-19’s Impact on Sustainability
Share Article
Subscribe to CMM