As the world continues to reopen from pandemic closures, the challenge to quickly develop and implement standards and guidelines is the highest priority for cleaning organizations. Cleaning and maintenance managers have long struggled to convince upper management that cleaning is more than a commodity and provides enormous value to the overall organization. Fortunately, the value of cleaning has been hiding in plain sight all along.
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the world has quickly realized the harm that can result from improper cleaning and has embraced the value of thorough cleaning for health and safety. In this new reality, cleaning has a greater impact on businesses, facilities, schools, consumers, and individuals than ever before. Cleaning is essential to promote confidence in a return to operations and provide a safe and healthy environment for us all.
Businesses are working exhaustively to understand, interpret, and comply with numerous guidelines and standards for cleaning and disinfecting public, private, and shared community areas. Most standards and guidelines require organizations to develop a plan, implement the plan, then maintain and revise that plan, all while juggling daily input from stakeholders. Cleaning is in the spotlight with a critical set of eyes watching and questioning every move. You can benefit by being open and transparent in the following key areas as you move forward.
Sometimes it takes more than just a little push to create forward movement. The pandemic has affected the economy in unimagined ways. In the past, cleaning budgets were subject to regular reductions. Now, without a clear definition of what your cleaning department needs to effectively move forward, the pressure to reduce costs could still threaten your budget. Have open and honest discussions that include realistic budgeting for realistic time frames. Share specifics on what your new service levels offer as well as the information on which you are basing the needed changes. Revisit the financial plan often as the standards and guidelines change as reopening accelerates and decelerates.
Training and certification
Training improves employees’ knowledge and job performance. Training also helps cleaning workers understand why their work is critical to the health and welfare of building occupants. It’s important for clients to see your staff properly performing the services described in your cleaning plan.
The pandemic quickly pushed on-site, group education and training to online learning. By utilizing online training and certification programs, you can quickly weave new solutions into the cleaning plan and effectively meet demand. Prevent unproductive and risky outcomes by properly training your cleaning staff for the duties your customers expect them to perform.
Marketing and signage
Communicate to the public in detail the tasks the cleaning department performs and how it is meeting standards and guidelines. Post signage that shares how and how often areas are cleaned and disinfected. A few examples are:
- This restroom is cleaned and disinfected daily using an EPA-registered disinfectant.
- For your safety, this facility is regularly disinfected.
- The cleaning workers in this facility are certified by ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute (CMI).
Visibility of cleaning
Professional appearance is important and can leave a lasting impression. The sight of appropriately attired workers using professional cleaning tools and equipment builds confidence among the facility patrons. If personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, ensure that building occupants see cleaning staff not only wearing PPE, but also wearing it correctly. A face mask worn incorrectly is a poor visual communication of your cleaning plan as well as a reflection of poor leadership. If masks are recommended, continuously emphasize to your staff the benefits and importance of wearing them correctly.
Cleaning processes and outcomes
Cleaning is not just for aesthetics or appearance. Cleaning is for health. Looking clean is important but being clean—achieving a condition free of unwanted matter—is more important. Now is the time to have a robust and transparent cleaning plan and execute it at a high level. Making it up as you go leaves your organization at risk. Instead of checking a box as “clean” or “dirty,” track detailed data on how facilities are cleaned and levels of cleanliness, then optimize your processes for improvement.
Cleaning is essential to our country’s shift toward reopening. Whether cleaning plans are executed in-house or with contractors, they should be integrated and transparent. Use every resource at your disposal to ensure that when the outcomes are measured they receive a high grade you will be proud for everyone to see. The world is watching the cleaning industry. Now is the time to shine!