Cutting-edge contract cleaning
05 May 2017
From innovations in sustainability to new ways of improving security, the cleaning industry is not standing still. Chris Parkes, operations director at Julius Rutherfoord, considers the current trends and challenges facing contract cleaners and facilities managers
When it comes to technology, the pace of change is truly amazing. Change always brings challenges as well as opportunities, and the best providers of contract cleaning and other facilities management services will be passionate about having the latest technology at their fingertips to keep pace with the world around them.
While this doesn’t mean replacing cleaning teams with robots any time soon, it does mean making the most of advances and new best practice standards in areas such as security, training and sustainability in order to clean more meticulously, effectively and safely.
Contract cleaners must take responsibility for the security and safety of their staff. As well as the security threat of employing workers without proper security vetting, there is also the risk of their exploitation, blackmail and even enslavement by corrupt company owners.
While some organisations settle for Disclosure and Barring Service checks, these are useless if the ID in question is fake, because fictitious people will not appear on criminal records. Only organisations that have sophisticated processes in place should be considered. The best contract cleaning companies use facial recognition techniques and passport and identity document scanning technology, similar to that used by customs personnel at international airports. This technology enables imposters and fake passports or ID documents to be identified in seconds, and guarantees a 100% legal workforce.
In addition, biometric time and attendance systems ensure only the right personnel enter premises, while cleaning vehicle fleets can also be monitored using GPS devices. This technology ensures that the right people deliver the right cleaning when they are scheduled to do so, and facilities managers get the exact level of service they have paid for. The latest customer relationship management technology also enables communication between clients and service providers to be logged and accessed quickly, which can help alleviate security concerns.
However, technology can never remove the personal touch, and the best contract cleaners will also ensure supervisors and managers have face to face contact with clients, while trusting and empowering their cleaning team to deliver flexible solutions with meticulous attention to details.
The best cleaning companies will also provide regular training for their operatives, not just at induction but at regular intervals as an ongoing process. This ensures that staff are up-to-date with the latest developments in best practice, productivity and product innovation. A trend in this area is for distance learning over the internet, which allows cleaning operatives to learn in their own time. But there is no real substitute for practical, hands-on training, and the best on- and off-line courses will be accredited by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc).
Recent developments have also seen more sustainable and environmentally-friendly cleaning products being used by cleaning companies. As well as working to reduce waste and increase recycling on every level, some contract cleaners are finding they can reduce or even eliminate the need for chemical cleaning agents – safeguarding cleaners as well as a building’s users and the wider environment.
Use of pure water systems, microfibre cloths and diamond-encrusted twister pads all help to reduce or even eliminate the need for chemical cleaning agents. And instead of using harsh (and often harmful) chemical solutions to sanitise surfaces, such as office desks and kitchen countertops, it is safer and just as effective to use enzyme-based biological cleaning products. Companies that truly passionate about increasing their sustainability will have the expert background and accolades to prove it – look out for standards such as ISO14001 for environmental management systems, Carbon Smart certifications, and registered upper tier waste carriers.
Keeping a workplace clean and hygienic can ultimately boost the health and wellbeing of a workforce, and while the latest technology can enhance the efficiency, security and sustainability of contract cleaning, the fundamentals must be in place too. Cleaning teams must be experienced, reliable and dedicated to delivering meticulously high standards of service to help keep a facility fit for purpose. The best contract cleaners will use technology combined with the personal approach to drive these basic principles forwards.