Performance comparison: Day shift vs. other cleaning shifts

There is growing interest in the concept of day shift cleaning strategies, with the underlying question of whether it is really better, or worse, than current cleaning models.

Our company is often asked for our advice or recommendation about which cleaning system to hire by facility managers and which system to offer as a service provider.

To add to this discussion, we have undertaken a nationwide benchmark study of these different cleaning concepts and service models, which is ongoing.

For facility managers, requiring the most effective cleaning system as a condition for contract award can mean lower costs and greater cleanliness.

For service providers, adopting the most effective cleaning system can mean greater profits and market growth.

Our approach for the study was to develop reliable metrics for the evaluation of cleaning system alternatives, select an appropriate facility profile, objectively summarize our findings and suggest reasonable conclusions about the effectiveness of the alternative approaches to cleaning.

The following information offers an exploration of our benchmark work and strives to identify the casual factors at play.

Selected metrics
We established specific measures of performance to collect our data and develop our findings.

At the end of all the preliminary work, we selected four metrics: Cleanliness quality, customer satisfaction, operational productivity, and financial cost.

We are not claiming universal insight into any of these measures.

We are not demeaning any other metrics or evaluation systems.

There is no claim that any of these are right or wrong, good or bad.

They are (after much consideration) what we have chosen as a basis for comparing the performance of a variety of cleaning systems.

And, it is important that you understand our assessment criteria.

The facilities and methodology
We began our culling process with over 40,000,000 square feet.

Based on qualifying inclusion criteria, the facilities selected for our study comprised just over 39,000,000 square feet, from most U.S. cities.

Before going any further, let’s be clear about how we define alternative work shifts.

  • The day only work shift strategy is defined as a work strategy where a variable number of worker hours are assigned, such as early morning hours, a regular occupant work shift, and an evening shift — all coordinated in what is being called a “day only” work shift. In addition, a weekend day is often incorporated into this cleaning strategy to ensure ongoing quality of performance.

  • A night only work shift can occur during an evening or night time period.

  • A mixed shift provides cleaning activity in two or three shifts in a day, evening and night time segment. It is the most common cleaning strategy in use today. In this model, the day shift is generally focused on policing, re-stocking and spot cleaning activities, while the evening shift focuses on the routine cleaning effort.

Data collection and the findings
We collected our data in a three-step process.

First, we sought out and got permission to include a specific facility in our study from a company or its contractor (not all facilities were ultimately included).

Then, we conducted on-site inspections, occupant interviews and information data collection.

Finally, we requested follow-up information from company or contractor sources, as available.

Overall, the results presented in the featured chart (sidebar) shows on average, day shift cleaning delivers marginally greater cleanliness quality and greater client satisfaction; it delivers substantially greater productivity than night shift or mixed shift cleaning.

Day cleaning is less costly than mixed shift cleaning and more costly than night shift cleaning.

Some might argue that, on a cost-for-performance basis, night shift cleaning delivers the best overall bargain because of its low price point.

Do not confuse value with cleanliness.

Getting value for your money might be acceptable, even if you get low performance at a very low cost.

Yet, a key question in establishing value is to define the importance of cleanliness, satisfaction and cost, relative to each other.

Nonetheless, if you are looking for the best value in cleanliness, satisfaction and productivity at a fair cost, night shift cleaning might not be the best choice.

Detailed analysis of these findings
When reviewed by shift, this study finds that day shift cleaning delivers about 4 percent higher cleanliness than mixed shift cleaning.

While some control group sites actually delivered better quality than some day shift cleaned locations, on the whole, day shift rated a 75.2 percent attribute-free appearance.

This compared favorably to the 71.2 percent for mixed shift cleaning.

The best-rated day shift performer delivered 81.7 percent cleanliness, while the best night shift delivered 85.6 percent cleanliness and the best mixed shift facilities rated 95.7 percent cleanliness.

It is worth noting that the wider the performance range, the less stable the cleaning system.

That is, there is more variation in the cleaning strategies where the range is the greatest.

We wanted to know if the different cleaning systems produced the same or a different cleanliness profile in each study group.

We profiled each group on the basis of the cleanliness of different types of space.

Key types of space were compared for cleanliness by shift of work.

There is a clear indication that restrooms and cubicles exhibit greater cleanliness from day shift schedules than other shifts.

It is interesting to note that night shift cleaning tends to produce better cleanliness levels for main entrances than other shifts.

On the whole, there is about 10 percent variation between the average level of performance between the day shift and the mixed shift cleaning.

When reviewed by shift, this study finds that day shift cleaning delivers about the same occupant and management satisfaction levels as mixed shift cleaning and slightly higher than night shift cleaning.

While some control group sites actually delivered better satisfaction than some day shift cleaned locations, on the whole, day shift rated a 76.7 percent satisfaction rating.

This compared favorably to the 75.4 percent average for night shift cleaning.

The highest-rated day shift performer delivered 80.0 percent satisfaction level, while the best night shift satisfaction rating was 86.7 percent and mixed shift facility rated 90.9 percent satisfaction.

The distribution of high performance and low performance varied by each cleaning shift.

Day shift cleaning exhibited the smallest distribution, which might indicate more consistency in cleaning systems and

On the other hand, mixed shift cleaning exhibited the broadest range in performance, perhaps suggesting a wider variety of cleaning activities and systems.

Staffing and workload
A review of the collective database allowed us to reach several conclusions about how productively labor was utilized in the cleaning of office-type facilities by work shift.

We found, on a shift basis, day shift productivity averaged about 17,800 square feet per person per hour, which includes “policing” activities; night shift productivity at 5,699 square feet per person per hour; and a mixed shift productivity of about 5,504 square feet per person per hour.

We also found, while the day shift cleaning staff averaged about 17,800 square feet per person per hour, productivity ranged between 5,143 and 43,000 square feet per hour.

On the other hand, we found that the night shift staff averaged about 5,699 square feet per hour and delivered a high of over 6,427 square feet and a low of 4,286 square feet.

Finally, while the mixed shift staff averaged 5,543 square feet, they delivered a low of 1,059 square feet and a high of 8,557 square feet per hour productivity.

Given the national scope of this study, prices for the same size facilities greatly varied.

Each region and city exhibited localized economic realities driven by the local economy, labor pool, union orientation, and other factors.

Nonetheless, on a cost-per-square-foot basis, the night cleaning shift is being delivered at a lower cost per square foot than day shift cleaning or mixed shift cleaning.

While some mixed shift sites actually delivered a lower cost than some day only locations, on the whole, night shift sites were 39 cents lower in cost than mixed shift cleaned sites and 23 cents per square foot lower than day shift cleaning.

The cost of cleaning ranged from $1.26 per square foot to 72 cents per square foot for day shift cleaning and 86 to 43 cents for night shift cleaning and $1.85 to 52 cents per square foot for mixed shift cleaning.

On the basis of our analysis we conclude that on average, day shift cleaning produces higher cleanliness quality, greater customer satisfaction and higher productivity than night shift or mixed shift alternatives.

Posted On September 19, 2010

Vince Elliot

Founder, President and CEO of Elliott Affiliates Ltd.

Vincent F. Elliott is the founder, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Elliott Affiliates Ltd. of Hunt Valley, Maryland, He is widely recognized as the leading authority in the design and utilization of best practice, performance-driven techniques for janitorial outsourcing and ongoing management.

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