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How to Create a Team of Cleaning Specialists

Use this simplified approach to workload your labor and meet your goals

Cleaning Change Solutions

Keeping a facility clean and healthy is no small feat. Assigning cleaning work that aligns with the desired outcomes and level of service across all areas of your building can be a daunting task. With so many assets to be cleaned in a facility, from restrooms to numerous types of flooring to upholstery, it often takes a lot of people to get the job done. The question is—how do you manage the workload?  

Create a team of cleaning specialists

The age-old workloading question is whether you should assign cleaning staff work as specialists or generalists. In other words, do you set up your team to perform less tasks over a larger area (specialist), or deploy your workers to perform all the cleaning tasks required in a smaller area (generalist)? 

Setting up your cleaning team to be cleaning specialists is a simpler and more effective way to assign work. When you workload this way, you get a team that is highly skilled in that particular area—whether it’s vacuuming, floor scrubbing, or restroom cleaning. Think of this comparison: You don’t go to your primary care physician or a general practitioner if you have a heart condition. You see a cardiologist who specializes in dealing with heart-related issues. Cleaning companies are in the business of creating healthy environments for us to live, work, and play in. Cleaning specialists become experts in areas that can have life-saving consequences in cleaning for health and infection prevention. Think of specialists as the cardiologists of cleaning.

Bundle your cleaning tasks

The cleaning specialist model consolidates, or “bundles,” two or more small tasks into a single action group in which the value, size, and performance require a single effort applied to all the tasks. The goal is to make similar and related tasks more manageable and executable. As a rule, bundled or consolidated tasks are performed with a lower level of complexity than the total of their individual efforts. An employee assigned to a bundle of cleaning tasks regards this bundle as a single project or goal for accomplishment. 

For example, let’s look at fixtures as one task area we can bundle for a restroom cleaning specialist. In this method, a single cleaning time can be used to calculate the total time it takes to perform all cleaning tasks in a restroom. The cleaning time can be calculated as the number of fixtures to be cleaned, multiplied by the production rate in minutes to be cleaned. The amount of time it takes to clean a restroom based on the per-fixture method is available in the newly revised Official ISSA Cleaning Times resource in the Specialist Section under restroom cleaning (RCL-7, see chart below). 

Official ISSA Cleaning Times, Cleaning Specialists, Restrooms

The cleaning specialist model bundles tasks to provide a simplified cleaning time solution based on industry-accepted and benchmarked production rates. Although generalist workloading calculates every task a cleaning job requires—specified by area, frequency, and even floor type (i.e., carpet, waxable tile)—specialist workloading utilizes a simple tool to quickly and accurately crunch the numbers. Therefore, numerous complex calculations of every individual cleaning task is unnecessary. 

Simplify for flexibility and efficiency

Specialist workloading allows managers the flexibility to revise, reset, and quickly pivot facility cleaning. Creating route cards that work both for the manager and the cleaning worker can be overwhelming and time consuming. The specialist’s standard list of bundled tasks simplifies the route cards. Tasks can be listed on one page or two, instead of a 40-page spreadsheet that overwhelms even the most experienced cleaning worker. 

Even though using the cleaning specialist approach is the first step toward reducing the complexity of assigning cleaning tasks, getting started may feel overwhelming at times. It did for me. So, take a moment to identify your reasons for seeking simplicity right from the start. This clarity of intention will keep you going when the complexity of getting to simplicity feels like too much. I prefer simple workloading using cleaning specialists because I want more time for what’s really important, and to experience more ease and less stress. 

With tight labor markets, the need to be more efficient within available cleaning hours is a high priority. The cleaning specialist model gives you a valuable and specific picture of the cleaning time needed by task, by area, and of course, by building. 

Tim Poskin

Director, ISSA Consulting

Tim Poskin is the Director of ISSA Consulting, providing systems integration and consulting solutions for the cleaning industry. Poskin is one of the world’s leading authorities on custodial workloading. He currently serves as chair of the ISSA Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) workloading and benchmarking committee. He can be reached at 206-384-6967 or [email protected].

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