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Festival under threat of bin strike 20/05/2022

THE ISLE of Wight Festival could be at risk of rubbish piling up as GMB union members prepare to go on strike over the weekend

GMB union members working as refuse operatives on the Isle of Wight are being balloted for industrial action over the festival weekend.

The ballot, which closes on 27 May, could see action begin on the island as early as 13 June, with the Isle of Wight Festival scheduled to take place over the weekend of 16 to 19 June.

The workers are in dispute with their employer Amey over pay, which the union members argue is well below industry rates and will not be rectified by the current tabled deal.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser said: “Our members are simply looking for a pay rise which reflects their worth.

“These are key workers who were working throughout the pandemic and are now looking for some recognition of that.

“This is a physically demanding job which needs doing come rain or shine, and any pay rise needs to reflect not only that, but also keep above inflation, which has hit a record high this week.

“We are very clear that anything below inflation is a de facto pay cut.

“GMB would suggest that festival organisers might want to give the council a call to see why their contractor is refusing to enter negotiations with the union.

“Put simply, if Amey agree to get around the table with GMB and put together a pay deal that properly reflects the rising costs of food, fuel and household bills, there won’t be any need for a strike.”

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How lockdown changed employee support for the better 13/04/2022

Lockdown meant that people’s health and wellbeing were forefront of their minds. This, in turn, meant a change in employees’ needs and what support they looked for from their employer. Although the pandemic had so many very negative impacts, as Debra Clark explains there have perhaps been some positive results to be seen in the workplace. 

A NUMBER of areas were particularly impacted by the lockdown and top of the list has to be mental health.  Isolation, bereavement, changes at work, and financial worries all had a direct impact on mental wellbeing to varying degrees and in different ways.  

There are concerns that this is only the initial impact and that as things start to return to a ‘new normal’ we will continue to see an after wave of mental health issues: children unable to sit their exams, people still dealing with unjust bereavement, the NHS staff who have worked so hard, those people still out of work or having to cover for people still being impacted by the covid virus. There has also been an increase in the ‘sandwich generation’ - people having to care for their children but also for their parents or elderly family members.  

The need to support people with their mental health has increased hugely. This was compounded by the rising demand coming at the same time as access to services was decreasing, as the NHS’ priority was coping with Covid. Having access to private support was therefore a consideration. One option within the workplace is to implement employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which provide support for stress and anxiety as well as legal and financial issues. This support can be over the telephone and, depending on the cover, also face-to-face through video conferencing. This type of benefit is available through some existing insurance offerings (private medical and group income protection for example) or standalone. It is not a high-cost purchase and provides instant access to support for those who need it – which proved critical during and post lockdown.

Physical effects 

The pandemic also had indirect impacts on people’s physical wellbeing. Anxiety and financial concerns could result in trouble sleeping, which causes physical symptoms. There was also an increase in musculoskeletal issues as people were working from home for the first time, or more often than before. People were not able to attend check-ups, monitoring, or screening appointments during lockdown, so this means there has potentially been a delay in diagnosing conditions that are more serious if left untreated. An example of this is cancer: if diagnosed at stage one it might be relatively easy to treat but if only spotted when at stage four, the prognosis could be much worse.  

Benefits changing in response

In response to some of these challenges people were facing, newer employee benefits became available – discounted physiotherapy access, at-home screening packages, carer support and helplines – just three of the services that we have seen increase in popularity as a direct result of this greater need. A specialist intermediary will be able to give guidance and access to some of these newer forms of benefit within whatever budget a company may have available to them.

Remote options

Not only were needs changing, the way people accessed their care had to change as well. This caused a massive fast-tracking in the introduction of virtual and digital health solutions. Virtual health solutions were already being developed but the need to access care this way meant a huge improvement in a very short period of time. Now proven to work, it is doubtful people will go back completely to needing face-to-face treatment or consultations for everything.  GP appointments, mental health support and counselling, physiotherapy, skin photo analysis and health monitors can all be carried out virtually. Even some screening can be done remotely at a time that is convenient for the patient with at-home kits. 

Rise of digital

Linked to this has been the development of app-based solutions. Insurers developed apps for their members to make it easier to access the services and support they were offering. With more generation Zs in the workplace than ever before, who were practically born with a phone in their hands, this will only become more prevalent, despite lockdown being the catalyst for their development.

Employee benefits platforms

Companies can also look at employee benefit platforms to support the engagement and communication of benefits as well as potentially choosing benefits. With each insurance policy or service now offering much broader elements as part of their proposition, it is very easy for staff to not be aware of everything they have access to. A company may be paying for a benefit that staff either do not know exists or do not know how to access it. An online platform could help with this challenge, especially if businesses have moved to a remote or hybrid working model, and the workforce are no longer always in a central workspace as they might have been before lockdown.

Halting the great resignation

The needs people have and the way they access them means that an employer will need to keep up with this changing dynamic or run the risk of not meeting their employees’ requirements. It is widely reported that people are looking much more broadly at potential employers, and it is no longer purely about the role and the salary. Employees want to see that their wellbeing will be considered and looked after, that their values are the same as their employer and their role delivers purpose. The great resignation is commonly referred to as people take stock and want to improve their life for the better.  Companies will need to ask themselves if they allow all their staff to be the best versions of themselves, as ’well’ employees are more likely to be loyal, productive and take less time off sick. 

Psychological safety

It is important to both existing and prospective staff that a company has the right culture with the right emphasis on wellbeing. If the company does not, then it may have a higher turnover of staff and struggle to recruit the talent required. A new iteration of ISO45003 places more focus on psychological safety of staff at work as well as physical. The number of accidents in the workplace is dropping but mental health issues and time off due to poor mental health is increasing. It makes sense for mental health to be a key part of health and safety considerations, not just people’s physical health, and this shift in focus happening with many of Towergate Health & Protection’s clients.

Creating a culture

Despite this new guidance and increased focus, it cannot be a tick box exercise. Looking after people’s health and wellbeing should run through the core of a business. It should be supported by robust and clear HR policies and be central to the culture and values the business and its staff represent. For all the damage brought about by the pandemic, maybe some positives can result for the mental health and support of employees.  

Debra Clark is head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection

For more information visit https://www.towergatehealthandprotection.co.uk/​

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Volunteers help to keep Caerphilly tidy 19/04/2022

A LITTERING hot spot in Caerphilly County Borough has been successfully cleaned by volunteers.

Caerphilly County Borough Council teamed up with Keep Wales Tidy to organise a Community Clean-Up event in Lansbury Park and proved successful, with volunteers working alongside the Recycling Team to help tackle litter.

The Clean-Up saw bags of litter as well as discarded items such shopping trolleys removed from the housing estate and disposed of correctly.

Rhodri Lloyd, Principal Waste Management Officers said: “We would like to thank those residents who are continuing to help make our borough cleaner and greener by recycling more and minimising litter in their local communities. We as an Authority are constantly looking for innovative ways to reduce waste and improve our recycling figures, so it is such a shame that litter is still an issue in some areas.

“We are a beautiful borough with so much green space, it is important that we all work together to keep it clean.”

Fancy cleaning up your local area but don’t have the right kit?

Keep Wales Tidy has now developed Caru Cymru Litter Picking Hubs where residents can borrow everything they need for free. Their growing network of hubs offer all the equipment you need to carry out a safe clean-up. This includes litter pickers, hi-vis vests, rubbish bags and hoops (essential for keeping your bags open in breezy conditions).

For more information, hub opening hours and contact details visit: Litter Picking Hubs - Keep Wales Tidy - Caru Cymru

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How hygiene habits have changed since we first locked down 18/05/2022

Dr Lisa Ackerley shares her insight as to how consumer behaviour has shifted in the aftermath of the pandemic, and how both businesses and consumers have a shared responsibility when it comes to reducing the spread of germs.

AS WE mark two years since the UK’s first nationwide lockdown, a greater understanding of hygiene and the role we collectively play in enhancing hygiene habits to reduce the spread of germs has emerged. As we return to daily commutes, hot desking, shared kitchens, sports games, concerts, hotel stays, and travel - both across the country and beyond our borders - how much have our hygiene habits really changed? 

Social impact, change and the responsibility of businesses 

There’s no denying that hygiene habits have shifted and venturing out into the community looks different. Whilst the Prime Minister set out the Government’s plans to live with and manage the virus - which includes measures such as removing the ‘NHS COVID Pass’ from 1 April – it seems like that Brits are still concerned about the risk of coronavirus when the world bounces back from the pandemic. According to new research from Ipsos MORI, 65% are ‘just as concerned’ now about the ‘risks posed’ by the pandemic to both themselves and the country as a whole as they were towards the end of 2021. In the UK, nearly 30% of people are either ‘very concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about the pandemic.

Echoing these concerns from the public, around 85% of business leaders believe that having the right products and processes for cleaning and disinfection is one of their ‘most important job responsibilities’.

As lockdowns and outbreaks have eased, and people have begun to venture back out into the community, the onus has moved from individuals protecting themselves at home, to businesses protecting people in the community. People and businesses have to embrace hygiene protocols and take extra hygiene precautions to help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Handwashing remains one of the most important hygiene measures adopted from the public with 38% of people agreeing, following getting vaccinated and mask-wearing with 74.5% and 43% respectively.

While business confidence in the UK decreased for a second-quarter running, receding to average levels not seen since 20146, it’s clear that businesses are preparing to live with the pandemic. It’s imperative that these newly established societal norms and hygiene expectations are maintained. 

Hand hygiene and changing habits

According to Reckitt's research in numerous markets from June 2021, 56% of UK people said that they washed or sanitised their hands ‘more frequently’ compared to a year ago. Yet one in three (36%) said the frequency of handwashing or sanitising remained the same with 8% declaring they were doing it less7. What’s more, between October 2020 and October 2021, one in six were ‘unable to recall’ how often they washed their hands.

With 72% of people intending to follow the same cleaning and disinfection behaviours they adopted during the pandemic8, overall heightened awareness of hand hygiene among staff and customers should be something businesses should look to not just sustain, but actively encourage. This can be done with signage to remind people to sanitise or wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds at crucial times such as after using the bathroom, upon arrival in a shared space, or before eating.


 

Targeted hygiene: Research and rigour

The silver lining that this research points to is the understanding of the need to take a targeted approach when it comes to hygiene. Rooted in research and rigour, targeted hygiene refers to the practice of regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-traffic and high-touch surfaces to prevent the spread of germs. Based around individual business need and efficacy, targeted hygiene allows businesses to clean smarter, not just harder. Implementing a targeted approach to hygiene intervention can be an effective solution in helping to keep consumer-facing spaces hygienically clean. A bespoke programme of cleaning which focuses on high-traffic areas - and is backed by science - is far more impactful than carrying out a deep clean once a day.

Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner, RSPH Professorial Fellow, and Winston Churchill Fellow Dr Lisa Ackerley is director of medical and scientific engagement and Hygiene at Reckitt - home to household brands like Enfamil, Nutramigen, Nurofen, Strepsils, Gaviscon, and Dettol.

For more information visit https://www.reckitt.com

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Hand dryers vs paper towels: Settling the debate 28/03/2022

For the hand dryer industry, as Matt Anderson observes, the pandemic represents a fresh chapter in the seemingly endless clash of the washroom titans: hand dryers vs paper towels.

JUST A few months into the UK’s first lockdown, there was a much-publicised petition by a senior NHS consultant to switch off hand dryers due to concerns that they might spread COVID by blowing contaminated aerosols around bathroom spaces.

Of course, recent research into the subject – including a report by the BBC’s Science Focus Magazine and a literature review in the Journal of Applied Microbiology – has found no real evidence to suggest that hand dryers negatively impact human health, but the hand dryer industry is very used to this kind of claim.

In fact, studies that treat hand dryers as a kind of germ-spreading bogeyman are often funded by paper towel companies – perhaps in the knowledge that a myth of hygienic superiority is the only thing preventing that industry from becoming completely obsolete.

Recent developments in hand drying technology, however, now allow us to put this debate to bed. 

With the latest dryers now reaching such heights of hygiene that they’re capable of killing germs and even cleaning the surrounding airspace, paper towels don’t have a leg to stand on.

Cheap costs, strong sustainability: the accepted advantages of hand dryers

Before discussing the latest dryer developments, it’s important to understand the context of the ‘hand dryer vs paper towel’ debate.

After all, health isn’t the only battleground for the two industries – but when it comes to cost and eco-friendliness, paper towels tend to find themselves on the back foot.

The sustainability angle is especially worth noting because – much like public health – it’s a big, meaningful topic that’s becoming more and more impactful in the public mind. 

Around ten years ago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study – admittedly funded by Dyson, but rigorously peer-reviewed all the same – which found that paper towels create 70 per cent more emissions than the most efficient high-speed dryers.

Of course, dryers have only become more efficient in the last decade.

The same isn’t necessarily true of paper towels, which – unlike the feats of electrical engineering which make up today’s dryers – aren’t known for their upgrades.

Similarly, while the running cost of a good hand dryer can be as low as £6 per annum, paper towels are unavoidably expensive. 

Paving the way for hygienic technologies

Of course, these costly and unsustainable practices are offset – according to the story told by Big Paper Towel, at any rate – by the idea that paper towels are more hygienic.

As a report from The Guardian noted a few years ago, the hand towel industry has always funded many more studies than dryer companies, generating an array of highly clickable but seriously dubious headlines which, at their most melodramatic, make hand dryers sound like weapons for germ warfare when compared to their papery cousins.

The report goes on to note that these headlines are often inspired by quite mild findings, including one experiment from the University of Leeds which found that washrooms with hand dryers only contained more bacteria on two occasions – mainly on the floor.

This kind of tit-for-tat exchange, in which the two industries angrily swapped studies with one another, may have dominated the conversation up until now – but with new technologies powering the latest dryers, the terms of the debate have shifted.

Today, it’s impossible to talk about hand dryers without mentioning the sophisticated hygiene technologies housed within their casing.

We’ve had great success, for example, in combining intelligent HEPA filters with UV light disinfection and ION particle generation– leading to a hand dryer which traps and kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria and viruses while blowing out clean air.

From paper parity to dryer dominance

These developments don’t represent the limits of the technology, but the beginning of a genuinely exciting new frontier for hand dryers.

After all, the aim of the game isn’t just to achieve some kind of hygienic parity with paper towels, but to reach heights that can’t be matched by these expensive disposable alternatives.

We’ve found, for example, that a good hand dryer doesn’t just blow out clean air – it cleans the air itself.

With the use of a negative ion generator, we’ve developed a means of turning hand dryers into air sterilisation units, allowing the machines to trap airborne bacteria and viruses in the local atmosphere and create a ‘safe zone’ in which washroom users can (as it were) breathe freely.

According to Professor Edward Nardell of Harvard University, in an article published in February 2022, indoor air cleaning will be a vital part of living with COVID – an effort which, as we’ve discovered, can see hand dryers taking on a vital role.

These developments will end the debate surrounding “hand dryers vs paper towels.” 

Although the latter’s claim to being the hygienic choice has always been dubious, the array of hygiene technologies at our disposal – combined with inarguable cost-effectiveness and sustainability – put the matter to bed.

Far from spewing germs around the washroom, the hand dryers of tomorrow will simultaneously destroy bacteria and viruses while keeping the air clean, sterile, and safe.

The paper towels of tomorrow will probably still be blue.

Matt Anderson is director of Velair.

For more information visit https://velair.co.uk

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Innovation Award nominations announced 20/04/2022

AN INDEPENDENT jury has selected the 12 nominees for Interclean's Amsterdam Innovation Award from 78 submissions in four categories. You can vote for the Visitors' Choice on the Interclean Amsterdam website from the beginning of April onwards.

The category winners and the overall winner of the Amsterdam Innovation Award are to be announced on 10 May, which is the first day of the Interclean Amsterdam exhibition. 

The first edition of the Amsterdam Innovation Award (AIA), which includes new, thematic categories, attracted 78 submissions. The majority were for the Sustainability & Environment and Workforce & Ergonomics categories.

Robert Stelling (director Interclean Global Events) had the following to say about the submissions. "It is fantastic to see that the industry has continued to innovate during the pandemic, has taken on such an important role and has demonstrated the important impact that cleaning has on a healthy and safe working and living environment. I am looking forward to the industry coming together again and to helping them present their innovations to the market. The spotlight will, of course, also be shone on all the AIA nominees."

Michelle Marshall (AIA jury president) adds: “So many of the products we have seen have been designed with sustainability in mind and we particularly noticed an increased awareness around the use of plastics - where they are sourced, how they have been produced and how they fit into the circular economy. We must also mention 'smart' solutions of course, as there are now so many innovations incorporating digital technology in all its forms, and we saw interesting developments there. In any cleaning operation however, people will continue to play a vital role so we were pleased to see the continuing development of more ergonomic, user-friendly manual tools that make the everyday cleaning jobs more manageable.”

The following have been nominated for the Amsterdam Innovation Award 2022:


Category: Sustainability & Environment

  • Maya Professional Tools, EVERSEA Multipurpose Cloth – made with 30% SEAQUAL® YARN by processing PET from plastic bottles collected from coasts, beaches, seas and rivers.
  • Tork, an Essity Brand, Tork Biobased Heavy-Duty Cleaning Cloth – helps to lower the consumption of fossil-based materials, while improving cleaning efficiency.
  • Spectro, Ecodos Dosage Bottle – a dosage bottle of which 100% is made using the world's first closed recycling cycle of plastic packaging in the cleaning industry.

Category: Smart Technologies & Digitalisation

  • Vileda Professional, Swep EviSense – an advanced cleaning system which allows faster, more sustainable cleaning and, at the same time, indicates when the job has been done. 
  • Lionsbot International, CubScrub – a cleaner's personal robot assistant which anyone can use anywhere.
  • Gaussian Robotics, Gaussian Scrubber 50 Pro – an AI-integrated commercial cleaning robot that supports automatic scrubbing, sweeping, mopping and sanitizing.

Category: Workforce & Ergonomics

  • Kärcher, BVL 5/1 Bp – the new BVL 5/1 Bp battery-operated ergonomic backpack vacuum cleaner made of innovative and ultralight EPP material.
  • RCM, Nexbot – an autonomous scrubber made to clean large spaces quickly with minimum environmental impact and increase cleaning profitability.
  • Arcora International, Arcora Pu-Pad Light – a floor cleaning pad for all water-resistant surfaces with an area coverage of 80,000 m².

Category: Health & Hygiene

  • Alani Higiene Profesional, Coreless Centre Pull Paper Towel in Tad – a paper towel on a roll with consumption control and waste reduction.
  • Consensus Group, EnozoPRO – a spray bottle that turns tap water directly into aqueous ozone. It is non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly and contains no fragrances or dyes.
  • AR-CO Chimica, Aladin GT5 – the Aladin system is an automatic distributor of super concentrated products, providing ready-to-use solutions in the right quantities.

From April to 3 May fellow professionals and industry partners can vote for their favourite innovation via intercleanshow.com/amsterdam/innovations/nominees/. The nominee with the most public votes will win the Visitors' Choice certificate. The announcement of the category winners and the Visitors' Choice and the awarding of the Innovation Award to the overall winner are scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10 May during the Interclean Amsterdam exhibition in RAI Amsterdam.

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Only a quarter of working days in 2022 have been at ‘low’ virus transmission risk 19/04/2022

WORKERS LOOKING for the lowest virus transmission risk* day of the week to go into the workplace should go in on a Wednesday according to findings from the new Air Quality Index launched by smart building platform, Infogrid.

The findings show that only a quarter of working days in 2022 have had a ‘low’ virus transmission risk, showing the effects of winter on the spread of infections like COVID and the flu.

The Infogrid Air Quality Index is based on data points collected in office buildings and workplaces globally including temperature, humidity, office occupancy and CO2 levels and shows how indoor air quality changes over time.  

The data, collected between September 2021 and February 2022 shows how virus transmission risk increases around Christmas time. Through September and October virus transmission risk remained ‘low’, however once temperature and humidity start to drop in November, the virus transmission risk doubled with 12 days registering ‘medium’ virus risk. 

The impact of Winter is clear as indoor virus transmission risk doubled from September to December 2021 and three quarters of the days in 2022 have been at medium virus transmission risk. 

William Cowell de Gruchy, Infogrid CEO commented: “The virus transmission risk increased in November and has remained high through the winter months. While the virus transmission risk moved from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ risk, that increase was enough to cause an influx of covid cases and hospitalisations which led the government to issuing a work-from-home recommendation.”

Wednesday is the safest day 

Further findings from the Air Quality Index show that in a period of six weeks, Wednesday consistently recorded the lowest virus transmission risk reading of any day of the week. Wednesday was also the day of the week which recorded the fewest days at medium virus transmission risk, making it the ‘safest’ day to be in the workplace.   

The most dangerous day in the last six months of was 29th November 2021 when virus transmission risk spiked, nearly hitting ‘high risk’ of virus transmission. 

There is also a geographic divide in the UK, cities in the North have been found to have consistently higher virus transmission risk compared to towns and cities in the South. Infogrid also found that virus risk in London is no higher or lower than other cities in the UK.

  • Virus transmission risk doubled in the UK between September and December 2021 
  • Only a quarter of working days in 2022 have been at ‘low’ virus transmission risk  
  • North of the UK has consistently higher virus transmission risk than the South 

William Cowell de Gruchy concluded: "The rising covid infection rates shouldn't be a particular surprise to the government. According to data we have collected from office buildings and workplaces across the UK, the virus transmission risk has not meaningfully changed since December. In fact only 25% of the days in January and February indicated a 'low' virus transmission risk.

"As the government has lifted restrictions and mandates, it now falls to employers to ensure they are doing what they can to protect their staff. What that looks like will differ from company to company, but understanding your workplace's indoor air quality and how to reduce virus transmission risk is a good place to start."

For more information visit www.infogrid.io

*Virus transmission risk is a metric that combines temperature, humidity and CO2 levels to understand how long a virus can remain airborne and for infections to be transferred. Infogrid collects and analyses data across multiple sensors and in this use case it utilised sensors from Airthings.

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WCEC becomes first livery company to be accredited as Living Wage employer 19/04/2022

THE WORSHIPFUL Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC ) has become an accredited Living Wage Employer. It is the first and only City of London Livery company to achieve this status.

The WCEC says it is proud to show solidarity with its exceptional colleagues who excelled themselves during the pandemic. Throughout, the cleaning industry was up-front and present, working steadfastly to keep our built environment clean and hygienic, including, most vitally, hospitals. The role of the cleaning industry is often undervalued, but its contribution was highlighted during  our country’s greatest crisis since the war.

Gary Fage, Master of the WCEC (pictured) said: “The Living Wage demonstrates an understanding that without fair pay, we cannot adequately resource our industry. Fair is fair when it comes to remuneration. I’d like to recognise the foresight and efforts of the WCEC Court Assistant, Phil Smith, whose experience with the Living Wage Foundation and as a founding member of the Recognised Service Provider Scheme have helped to smooth our livery’s way to becoming a Living Wage Employer.”

The WCEC will report annually to reconfirm its status. Furthermore, there will be a dedicated area on the WCEC website specific to its Living Wage Employer status and any related initiatives.

If you would like to find out more about the WCEC or any of its initiatives or events, email clerk@wc-ec.com, telephone 01189 333606 or visit www.wc-ec.com

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Innovating for innovation’s sake? 02/03/2022

There is a fascination with innovation among cleaning and facilities management professionals and the clients they serve at present, and certainly technological disruption has the potential to transform the built environment and the way it is managed. But as the revolution continues, is the industry innovating with purpose, or simply acting on impulse? Katie Westerman explores that very question.

THE COMMERCIAL cleaning sector has seen no shortage of disruptive technologies in recent years. From autonomous mobile robot cleaning machines to intuitive senor technologies, data analytics, drones for facility condition assessments and even machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, to name just a few.

While technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics often grab headlines, the hype of modern technology habitually comes much sooner than when it is practical for cleaning and facilities teams to actually use in practice. 

Professional cleaning, hygiene and maintenance organisations often find it difficult to grapple with the idea that not all technology can generate positive change, particularly when it comes to driving efficiencies and improvements for the end user. The true challenge is not in adopting the technology itself, but understanding what innovation they should be investing in, and which they should avoid until they fully mature.

The route of all effective innovation is understanding its purpose and value. Innovation for innovation’s sake will do little but to massage the ego of the commercial cleaning provider and gain short-term attention in the eyes of their industry peers. Indeed, without consideration for its applications, the value it can bring, and most crucially the customer pain points it can resolve, innovation becomes little more than a gimmick.

There is a common misconception that innovation has to be something never seen before, a ground-breaking disruptive technology that pushes the boundaries of anything ever implemented. The truth is most clients want innovation, but few wish to be first to try completely new ideas. The principal focus, therefore, should be about delivering ‘innovation without risk’, introducing methods to new contracts tested and proven with existing clients. 

Innovation does not have to be something no-one has ever done before; if an idea is new to a facilities contract, for the end user, it is an innovation. Change must be for the better, be that driving efficiencies, bringing benefits to clients, solving existing problems, or improving the overall service provision. Innovation for its’ own sake is not helpful.

Innovation begins with a novel idea

Often innovation is not sexy, it is hard work, practical and beneficial to the client. For example, one of the greatest challenges that can make or break a commercial cleaning contract is the ability to deliver an uninterrupted service and achieve full attendance. On large, national contracts with small cleaning teams on each site it is an issue often amplified and one which can cause major problems if not addressed.

Arming cleaning operatives with the latest cleaning technology and devices will do little to resolve this challenge. Instead, leveraging of existing staff support solutions, when supported with tried and tested processes for contingent support and good management, can aid in solving the problems and create long-term service continuity.

Software that facilitates the electronical recording of when colleagues log on and log off, and the exact hours worked is widely used in commercial cleaning and FM. The true innovative element is the way it is applied to commercial cleaning contracts and the resilience it delivers.

The implementation of tech-driven solutions, leveraging existing workplace support solutions – to source and identify contingent support from a pre-defined group of colleagues who are available for work, trained, and site-inducted – helps manage unplanned absences and source reliable cover quickly.

Progressive adoption

We should not just be anticipating and preparing for future disruptive technologies, but understanding what is available now, what benefits they will bring to clients, the problems they may solve, and how they will improve the service. Only once this is achieved can we begin to define an adoption process for embedding these technologies into working environments.

A controlled trial of innovative solutions, on a small scale, for instance, is often much more effective than a widespread implementation of technology across multiple sites nationwide. Critically, trials can be conducted under strictly controlled conditions with dedicated project teams, to eliminate risk to clients.

Carefully planning and applying the most appropriate technology can not only drive innovation and higher standards, but also achieve greater efficiencies in cleaning practices to optimise the removal of pathogens and protect the workforce. The industry has already seen notable examples of the merits that the selective and gradual deployment of innovation can deliver. 

Client driven innovation

The growth of industrial floor scrubber technology – a solution that combines the flexibility of a mop with the power and speed of industrial scrubber driers – is just one instance of ‘client driven innovation’, and a prime example of technology that has developed over time based on needs expressed by the market and environments in which it is deployed.

Estimated to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of ~10% between 2019 and 2027 – according to the Industrial Floor Scrubbers Market report from Transparency Market Research – the emergence of this trend owes to numerous factors, the most prominent of which is rising concerns about hygiene in the commercial sector.

The gradual adoption of this innovation has also been heavily influenced by persistent technology development, skilled labour crises, and scaling productivity expectations regarding daily cleaning tasks.

It is no great surprise then that innovation in the technology and design of industrial floor scrubbers with advanced features has brought numerous benefits, many of which are now being realised by organisations across a breadth of sectors. 

Machines not only clean faster and more efficiently but can also lower labour costs for commercial cleaning companies and their clients alike. ATP testing confirms that some floor scrubber drier’s twin counter-rotating brushes deep scrub for 90% cleaner surfaces compared to conventional mopping.

Such an increase in the deployment of industrial floor scrubber technology is just one example of innovating with purpose. That is to say, whatever theoretical advantages are secured by considering the widespread deployment of innovation in a commercial cleaning contract can only be reaped by consideration of the wider market needs, as well as the larger set of outcomes that have been delivered through low-risk trials under controlled conditions in the real world. 

The future is bright

There is no doubt that the beacon of technological innovation has well and truly been lit and clients across a variety of industries are looking for more speed, efficiencies and innovation from commercial cleaning services than ever before. And, where appropriate, that innovation will be welcomed and valued.

Nevertheless, innovation without purpose and an understanding of the benefits it will deliver, will unquestionably falter. Regard for this, as well as the executional and organisational factors that must underpin implementation, are what separate successful innovators from the rest of the field.

Katie Westerman is group sales and marketing director at SBFM

For more information visit www.sb-fm.co.uk

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2022: A year of challenges and opportunities 10/03/2022

Zac Hemming reflects on how the cleaning industry continued to adapt and evolve throughout 2021, and the key learnings that can be taken into 2022.

OVER THE last 12 months, the commercial cleaning sector has continued to play a pivotal role in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. From healthcare and hospitality, to offices and retail outlets, businesses across all areas of society have been able to safely re-open, and most importantly, stay open. 

This has been achieved by commercial cleaning providers working in partnership with business owners to adopt a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to virus mitigation that provides the highest possible standards of protection, whilst also, crucially, fulfilling consumer confidence.

For many members of society, returning to their place of work or visiting social environments, such as restaurants and theatres, continues to remain an area of concern. Last year, research conducted by ICE Cleaning, identified that over half of British workers would support never returning to the office environment due to a fear of germs, lack of social distancing and being in a room with lots of other people.

The study of 1,000 British employees, which was carried out via OnePoll, found two thirds would also feel uncomfortable about going back into their workplace full time, with worries including lack of personal space and not enough communal cleaning. 

Virus sanitisation programmes

Dedicated virus sanitisation programmes, which were requested by over 50% of individuals surveyed, enabled business owners to successfully alleviate these concerns, whilst simultaneously fulfilling due diligence, by effectively mitigating against the spread of bacteria and viruses, particularly throughout communal spaces, such as kitchens, bathrooms and lifts.

The rapid advancement in cleaning technologies, including the development of non-hazardous chemicals and dispensing systems, has set the standard for a new generation of commercial cleaning that ensures first class protection, with minimum disruption.

Traditionally, fogging machines have been used to apply the relevant chemicals to help mitigate against the spread of bacteria and viruses on surfaces and key touchpoints. However, latest progressions in electrostatic technology have created a dispensing system, that, when combined with best in class non-hazardous chemicals, achieves a longer dwell time on surfaces. 

This enables the chemicals to effectively ‘wrap’ around surfaces to guarantee protection against viruses for up to 28 days, eliminating the opportunity for the cleaning chemicals to drip off high frequency touchpoints, such as door handles, which may potentially occur with other methods of application.

The electrostatic technology features positively charged electrostatic particles, which attach themselves to negatively charged particles found on solid surfaces, whilst simultaneously counteracting any negatively charged particles within the atmosphere. This effectively destroys 99.9% of traces of coronavirus and other bacteria and viruses on surfaces within a working environment.

By incorporating these tailored sanitisation plans into established daily and weekly cleaning routines, business owners were able to achieve prolonged defence in an efficient and cost effective way.

Sanitisation services for Deliveroo Editions 

When Deliveroo Editions required dedicated virus sanitisation support to ensure the highest standards of protection throughout its UK delivery only kitchen hubs, it turned to ICE Cleaning.

With the 2021 national lockdown accelerating an uptake in demand for takeaway services, Deliveroo Editions knew it had a responsibility to ensure its kitchens not only facilitated the increase in orders, but consistently ensured the safety of all employees and visitors. 

To achieve this, while also helping to maintain its 100% 5-star EHO and equivalent rating, Deliveroo Editions commissioned the support of ICE Cleaning to complete consistent virus sanitisation programmes throughout a selection of its UK delivery only kitchen hubs.

ICE Cleaning’s decontamination treatment was regularly applied by a dedicated team of technicians throughout the venues to provide the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness, by adequately mitigating against the potential spread of viruses and bacteria.

Dora Besenyei, operations manager at Deliveroo Editions UK, said: "Over the last 12 months, ICE Cleaning has become a trusted partner of Deliveroo Editions. ICE Cleaning’s team has shown consistent dedication to improving the level of hygiene throughout our delivery only kitchen hubs, and through regular ICE SHIELD® decontamination treatments, we’ve been able to minimise threats in the workplace and create a clean, safe environment for our staff and guests.”

Utilising electrostatic technology to effectively destroy 99.9% of traces of coronavirus and other bacteria and viruses, ICE SHIELD has been independently proven to deliver 100% effectiveness in killing certain types of bacteria, in addition to providing consistent protection against recurrence. 

Dora continued: "The cleaning regime that ICE Cleaning offers provides an all-in-one layer of protection against bacteria and viruses which lasts for 28 days, meaning our workforce feel comfortable carrying out their daily duties. As a result, we’ve been able to maintain a high level of productivity – even during the pandemic. We’re incredibly thankful for ICE Cleaning’s hard work and look forward to developing our relationship over the next year."

Guaranteeing full surface protection against harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi for at least 28 days, each application was supported by a decontamination certificate, which evidenced the environment’s continued defence against the recurrence and bacteria, to provide restaurant owners using the facilities with complete peace of mind.  

Throughout the first quarter of 2021, the pandemic fuelled a significant increase in demand for takeaways across the nation. As Deliveroo Editions worked closely with restaurant owners to ensure they could successfully meet this demand, they also knew they had to ensure the safety of all individuals at all times.

It was therefore vital that all necessary precautions were consistently taken to protect the health and wellbeing of both Deliveroo Editions team members and restaurant owners, without causing disruption to daily operations. Our persistent ICE SHIELD® decontamination solution ensured each location was successfully protected against the spread of viruses and bacteria, both on surfaces and in the air, to ensure the safety of all individuals when on site.

Conclusion 

As we enter our third year of the pandemic, advancements in virus sanitisation continue to evolve, with commercial cleaning providers working in close partnership with clients to identify how environments can be proficiently protected to achieve the highest possible standards of cleanliness and hygiene at all times.

However, whilst continued innovation is essential in the fight against the virus, it cannot be achieved at the expense of sustainability. The development of non-harmful solutions will continue to be a main priority for this year to ensure the industry plays it’s part in supporting net zero ambitions.

Over the last two years, the commercial cleaning industry has received recognition for its impressive capabilities and unwavering resilience, and it will continue to build on this throughout 2022 to remain at the epicentre of the fight against the virus. 

Zac Hemming is managing director of industrial, commercial and domestic cleaning provider, ICE Cleaning.

For more information, visit icecleaning.co.uk or call 02039 932940.

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