WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN BUILDINGS REOPEN
The pandemic changed many aspects of our daily lives, but cleaning may be the most important part of our daily routine that has been impacted.As things return to normal and facilities are opening again, BSC’s and property managers are implementing measures to ensure the health of their occupants.
Keith Sopha, an experienced Director of Environmental Services, stated in an interview with CTV News Canada that: “All of a sudden, this pandemic is a real eye-opener for everyone about how important best practices in cleaning and disinfecting are in health care and beyond.”
To ensure employees and other occupants feel safe to return to buildings, cleaning teams are expected to live up to higher cleaning standards and set new priorities. The CDC has set clear guidelines for the cleaning and disinfecting of a facility, in which cleaning staff plays a key role.
It is important that your cleaning staff familiarize themselves with these guidelines, in addition to any other rules that might have been set for the cleaning of the building. Once you have done this, you should also check that your business has the budget for cleaning at this level.
These new standards and priorities might seem daunting, but there are multiple things you and your cleaning team can do to prepare for them. Slight changes can be made to your cleaning routine, products, and equipment to ensure you are ready to take on any challenge.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CLEANING STAFF
1. Ensure proper training for your cleaning team
One thing is crucial for your team to be able to clean at the top of their game: training. Staff should know how to clean to stop the spread of the virus and ensure the overall health of building occupants. A well-trained cleaning team will ensure a high-quality result.
“We need to train and certify cleaning professionals because this crisis is showing that frontline cleaning staff are essential. What they do matters and how they do it is important” says Keith Sopha.
A lack of training might impact more aspects of your business than you would expect. Not only does it diminish the quality of work your crew can deliver, but it also affects the safety of your team and the environment they work in.
Cleaning practices such as mopping can create situations where staff and occupants might be exposed to physical or chemical hazards. According to ProLink, by gaining knowledge on standardized protocols and potential hazards, a trained cleaning staff protects themselves and others from unsafe situations.
Moreover, a trained staff is also a more efficient staff. When your cleaning team knows exactly what is expected and which products to use, they will spend less time cleaning their own way—which can result in inconsistent cleaning between staff members. In effect, training can ensure that all staff follow the same processes and use supplies and products properly, resulting in less waste and lower annual cleaning costs.
On top of that, continued and proper training will ensure your staff is prepared for the heavier workload that might come with elevated cleaning standards because of the pandemic. An educated cleaning team will know how to work smarter, without having to overwork themselves.
2. Provide your cleaning team with the right products
In the new normal, cleaning has become one of the top priorities for building managers. However, cleaning is more than just wiping a surface down and vacuuming the floors. Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt, debris, and germs. But this last aspect might be trickier than it seems, because removing them does not necessarily mean killing them.
The keyword in killing these germs is disinfecting. Disinfecting means using chemical products to actually kill bacteria on a surface. To ensure the proper elimination of these germs, sanitizing should happen in two steps. The surface should first be cleaned with soap and water, then once more with an approved disinfectant.
Improper methods or products can actually spread the micro-organisms that cause infections, so it is crucial employees have all the right products at their disposal. Not all cleaning products are applicable and effective, so ensure staff knows and uses approved cleaning products. In the USA, the EPA has compiled a list of approved disinfectants for the coronavirus. Check if a similar organization in your country has a list like this or consult your cleaning product supplier for recommendations.
3. Establish a consistent cleaning routine
A high quality clean is crucial, but it’s even more important that this level of cleanliness can be achieved consistently. Establishing a cleaning routine is key to ensure tasks get done sufficiently daily.
To do this, it is important to have a clear overview of what is being cleaned, by whom, and how it is being done.
One example for how to attain this for floor cleaning equipment is through a fleet management platform like i-Synergy by ICE Robotics which can provide you with all the necessary data to get this overview.
i-Synergy offers you insights through data like run time, location, and user of the machine, along with the square footage cleaned and the route the machine worked. In this way, managers can create a cleaning routine with a checklist that will build on collected data to give their team a solid basis to work on.
This data can be combined with any other guidelines set up by health organizations like the CDC. For example, they recommend to clean high touch surfaces at least once a day or more when the space is “occupied by young children and others who may not consistently wear masks, wash hands, or cover coughs and sneezes.” Once you gather all this information, you can create a cleaning checklist staff can use to ensure they cover all bases.
The information provided through the fleet management platform will subsequently help your team to speak to a confirmed clean. The checklist, along with the data collected through fleet management software, work together to demonstrate proof of performance. These tools help show that an area has been completely cleaned and ensure that it is up to the standards set by building and property managers.
In this way, your cleaning team can be a part of giving people the reassurance they need to return to buildings with confidence.
4. Create visibility with cleaning staff
According to CMM, one of the top 5 best practices to reopen your facility is to “elevate the visibility of cleaning and those who execute it.” Cleaning in the presence of occupants and visitors is a great way to show them that health and safety are top priorities in your facility. This perception of clean is important to make people feel safe in buildings again.
An obvious way to accomplish this is by planning shifts for your cleaning team during opening hours. However, this is not the most efficient way to clean, since there will be people using the space. Moreover, a cleaning crew usually does not spend the entire day working in one building.
The fact that employees might not be available during the entire day does not mean cleaning should be invisible. Autonomous cleaning equipment, like the autonomous sweeper Whiz distributed by ICE Robotics in partnership with SoftBank Robotics, can be a great solution to this.
Whiz uses programmed, mapped routes to vacuum a space autonomously, the only thing your cleaning team needs to do is learn the machine the route in your building once. Thanks to its safety features, the vacuum does not have any trouble avoiding obstacles like people or desks.
Thus, Whiz can operate at any moment, taking time off your cleaning crew’s hands to focus on priority tasks like disinfecting high-touch point surfaces. Besides this, the presence of Whiz will be a constant reminder to the people in your building that their health and safety is top priority.
Reach out to our experts to get more tips and information on how to get your cleaning crew ready!
If you’d like to read further, we suggest: Why the New Normal needs Automation in Commercial Cleaning