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Call for key worker status and vaccines for cleaners 27/01/2021

THE BRITISH Cleaning Council (BCC), which is sponsoring the proposed All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), says it will push for the recognition cleaning and hygiene operatives deserve for the vital work they are doing in tackling the pandemic.

Cleaning and hygiene operatives are crucial to the continued operation of many key and essential industries but not all of them have been given key and essential worker status.

By providing cleaning operations, the UK cleaning and hygiene industry helps to keep other essential industries going, such as the NHS, food manufacture, key public services and transportation, so protecting the health and well-being of their workers, colleagues and the public.

Guidance currently does not specifically name cleaning and hygiene personnel as key workers, although ‘support staff’ in the NHS, education and other key sectors are identified as essential workers.

Additionally, the priority list for vaccinations is variable, and after the initial phases, the BCC hopes industry personnel will be among the occupations given higher priority because of the risks staff are exposed to during their work.

The BCC has been working to interest MPs in taking part in the APPG for the UK cleaning and hygiene industry and hopes Parliament will inaugurate it soon.

APPG members will decide their own agenda but the BCC will use its influence as the voice of the industry and the sponsor of the group to encourage them to address its concerns.

Chairman of the BCC, Paul Thrupp, said: “It is very frustrating that, despite months of us calling for all cleaning and hygiene personnel to be given key and essential worker status, it still hasn’t happened.

“Industry personnel are in the frontline in the fight against the virus, getting exposed to it in the workplace as they try to protect others.

“Without their bravery, the delivery of key services would be hampered by sickness among staff and the UK would be in more trouble.

“Cleaning and hygiene operatives will continue to play a key role in the future as we battle to beat the pandemic and get back to normality.

“It is vital that the Government recognises this by giving them key worker status and high priority for vaccinations. We hope the APPG will put this urgent issue right to the top of its agenda.”

The BCC is supporting an APPG for the industry to help raise awareness of the sector’s huge scale and importance, and to give the industry a voice in Parliament and ensure it can influence relevant decisions.

The BCC has been working alongside former MP for Stirling, Stephen Kerr, to attract MPs to join the APPG.

After inauguration by Parliament, MPs would elect their own chair and decide which issues they want to discuss.

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New look for market leading publication 26/01/2021

WESTERN BUSINESS Media, the publisher of Cleaning Matters magazine, has invested in a redesign of the UK's only print publication dedicated to cleaning & hygiene.

The investment has been made following the success of the publication throughout 2020. Now in its 22nd year Cleaning Matters is the UK’s largest and only 100% ABC audited magazine within the cleaning sector.

As well as the redesign and new logo, further investment has been made in increasing the circulation. Additionally, thanks to a partnership with The Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM), Cleaning Matters is now the only UK cleaning publication that offers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points to readers of the print and digital editions of the magazine.

Cleaning Matters presents the latest innovations and insight that can aid the task of cleaning, maintenance and hygiene, as well as delivering independent news, views and developments from within the market.

Regular contributions from leading industry experts, combined with Cleaning Matters’ knowledge of the marketplace and accessible style, make it a must-read as well as an indispensable reference tool.

Western Business Media publishes a broad range of business-to-business titles across a wide variety of UK sectors, and organises the prestigious Safety & Health Excellent Awards (SHE Awards).

Cleaning Matters' editor, Chris Shaw said: "This investment demonstrates the commitment of Western Business Media to print publications in extremely challenging times.

"Along with our interactive digital platforms - such as E-newsletters, webinars, social media outlets and podcasts - we are also pleased to announce Cleaning Matters Live, a new interactive digital conference for 2021, which will also play host to the new Cleaning Excellence Awards.

"We know how busy those working in the cleaning and maintenance industry are, and this redesign will make it even easier for our readers to make sourcing product and service solutions simple and easy to digest."

Read the latest issue of Cleaning Matters at http://archives.westernbusinesspublishing.co.uk/cm/DigitalArchive/Issues/2021/cmjan21/index.html

For enquiries on advertising opportunities contact Peter Calligeris at PCalligeris@westernbusiness.media

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A Parliamentary voice for the cleaning sector 21/01/2021

WHILE NEW year celebreations may have been muted this year, positive steps are being taken to ensure that the cleaning and hygiene sectors will be better represented as we tread cautiously into the unknowns of 2021.

The British Cleaning Council (BCC) is sponsoring the creation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to represent the cleaning and hygiene sector in the Houses of Parliament. The aim is to give the industry a voice in Parliament, allow it to influence discussions, debate and pose questions and to influence ministers and the government.

The BCC has been working to attract prominent MPs to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, particularly those who represent constituencies where cleaning and hygiene sector businesses are based, particularly SMEs.

Parliament needs to approve the establishment of any APPG and it is hoped that this ‘inauguration’ could happen early in 2021. The group would also elect its own chair. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK at the beginning of last year, it very quickly became apparent that cleaning and hygiene operatives - considered by far too many as “an invisible workforce” - deserved much more recognition and respect. According to chairman of the BCC, Paul Thrupp, the creation of an APPG for the cleaning and hygiene industry is the next step in that process. Thrupp explained: “Through it, we will ensure that MPs, ministers and the government are made aware of the huge size of this industry, its massive contribution to the economy and the vital role that cleaning and hygiene operatives have in protecting people’s health and safety, particularly as we recover from the pandemic.”

This is vitally important news for the cleaning sector and the APPG will enable the BCC to provide expert guidance and assistance to both the government and the country. It will also enable critical and relevant issues to be put on the Parliamentary agenda, providing a forum for an exchange of views between MPs and those involved in the cleaning and hygiene industry.

Crucially this move will help to ensure that the BCC has a say when decisions are made that affect us, at a time when it has never been so depended on - or needed - so much.

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ICE Cleaning signs deal with China State Construction 14/01/2021

ICE CLEANING recently joined forces with the world’s 14th largest general contractor, China State Construction, to aid the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai. Together, the companies aim to provide a safe, clean atmosphere for the public.

China State Construction is the largest engineering contractor in the world, serving over 100 countries. Founded in 1982, the corporation ranked 23rd in Fortune Global 500 and 44th in Brand Finance Global in 2018. The industry giant reportedly reeled in $136 billion (£1 billion) in the first half of 2020 alone, making it one of the most powerful players in the current climate. 

The duo will be responsible for creating and preserving the physical appearance and structural integrity of the buildings within Expo 2020 District. Expo 2020 is a showcase of innovation opening its doors in Dubai on 1stOctober 2021. The project will run until 31st March 2022, allowing visitors from over 190 participating countries to get involved. 

Featuring world-class architecture and innovative landscapes, the excitement of Expo 2020 conceals the enormous efforts behind the spectacle. ICE Cleaning will work alongside China State Construction to care for the buildings involved in the Expo 2020 villages, maintaining an excellent standard at all times. ICE Cleaning’s top priority will be providing a high-quality façade cleaning service.

ICE Cleaning is a fast-growing market leader specialising in industrial cleaning services, based in Orpington, Kent. Until now, the company operated on a national scale, catering to a range of high-profile clients such as Nando’s, Warner Bros and the NHS. The directors of the company, Zac Hemming and James Reynolds, are thrilled to face their first global venture and honoured to be involved in such a marvellous development.

James Reynolds, co-founder of ICE Cleaning said: "This is a tremendous achievement for the company. It’s been a dream of ours to expand globally for a number of years, so being able to watch the plans fall into place has just been incredible."

The deal marks a significant milestone for ICE Cleaning. While for many businesses 2020 was a year of misfortune, ICE Cleaning signed as the official cleaning contractor of West Ham United FC and regularly appeared in newspapers (including The Times and The Telegraph) for leading the way in the fight against coronavirus during unprecedented times. 

Zac Hemming, co-founder of ICE Cleaning said: "2020 was extremely unpredictable yet our best year so far, proving that anything is possible with the right mindset. I believe our new deal with China State Construction is a fantastic opportunity to illustrate our potential on a global scale and take us to the next level."

For more information visit https://www.ice-cleaning.com

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2021: The future of cleaning & hygiene 22/01/2021

Following a year of unprecedented challenges Cleaning Matters magazine speaks to industry experts to examine the challenges of COVID-19 on the cleaning & hygiene sector - and what impact these will have throughout 2021.

THE IMPACTS of COVID-19 have been felt in businesses across the UK and, despite an obvious need for increased cleaning practices, cleaning companies are no exception with only 76% of businesses in the sector currently trading, according to ONS data.

Perfect Clean, a Scottish cleaning company, has analysed the latest ONS data to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the cleaning industry.

The administrative and support service industry, which accounts for cleaning, has been one of the worst affected industries, second only to accommodation and food services. 

In the week leading up to Christmas alone, 6% of businesses in the sector permanently ceased trading, which is more than double the national average. Additionally, 53% of businesses in the sector saw turnover decrease compared to pre-COVID levels.

With businesses following government advice to ‘work from home if you can effectively do so’ in England, many businesses have been left empty, reducing the demand for office cleaning services. Savill’s found a dramatic 50% decrease in office space uptake in The City of London alone.

While the country battles through another lockdown, there are still reasons to be hopeful. The government aims to vaccinate 15 million people in the UK by mid-February and a third vaccine has now been approved for use in the UK. As more people become vaccinated, it is likely we will see workplaces opening up for business as usual once more. And as workplaces attempt to re-open in line with COVID-secure guidelines, there will likely be an increase in demand for cleaning services at workplaces, on transport, as well as in homes. 

Savill’s has also reported an uptick in office premise demand in London and the South East, signalling that some businesses are intending to return to traditional office spaces this year. With this return, there is likely to be an increased demand for commercial cleaning services once again.

Enter 2021 with the right data

As the cleaning industry heads out of 2020 and into the stabilisation phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dianna Steinbach, vice president of International Services, ISSA, observed that it is a good time to reflect upon where cleaning businesses stand in the eyes of the cleaning customer.

"We have seen a growing awareness of how cleaning can reduce risk, something industry professionals have been hoping for over many years," she said.

"This has led some facilities to invest more in cleaning services or technology. At the same time, lockdowns and business disruption has led to reduced revenue for many businesses, and commercial offices continue to face low occupancy rates as many employees remain working from home. In fact, cities such as London have developed efforts to try to entice people to return downtown after so much time away."

Steinbach warned that the unfortunate side affect of the pandemic is that many customers are making tough choices regarding how to spend their smaller budgets, and some of them are pushing back to lower cleaning costs. "At a time like this," she stated, "it is critical that you are able to articulate the true value of cleaning as an investment in their business bottom line and the confident return of employees and customers to kick-start much-needed business momentum.

"Communicating the best business case for investing in proper cleaning right now requires you to connect the dots between your services or solution and their organisation’s top pain points. The power of your case comes from the right data to catch their attention and explain how you help solve their current issues."

ISSA has gathered data from around the world to make this task easier to accomplish, and offers a calculator to help you create a specific business case for your customers based on industry research.

Steinbach continued: "You may want to begin with reference to the current heightened concerns people have, surrounding cleanliness. Seventy-two per cent of people are concerned about germs left on surfaces shared by colleagues, according to research by GP Pro. So companies will need to communicate how they are cleaning to protect their employees.

"Next, businesses need their workers to be as productive as possible. Therefore, you can share statistics on cleaning’s impact on worker productivity.  First, improved cleaning and basic han hygiene measures can reduce viruses on a surface by more than 85 per cent, according to a study in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 2019. Combine that with the fact that sick workers lead to higher absenteeism costs and lower productivity and it is worth reducing that risk of cross contamination. 

"Plus, the total cost of absenteeism in the US, Australia and the UK combined still is only 10% of what businesses pay due to employees who come to work sick, according to the Global Challenge Virgin Pulse. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, presenteeism has even higher costs and consequences. If entire sections of an office or shifts in a workplace need to quarantine due to one sick co-worker, productivity is impacted."

According to Steinbach, the investment your customer needs to make to maintain responsible levels of cleanliness at a time when their most important stakeholders need to gain greater confidence in returning to activity, will be a fraction of the costs that reduced levels could generate. She noted: "The bottom line is that proper cleaning is an investment in getting business back on track and you know how to create the right program to meet their needs as cost-effectively as possible… that just may mean at a price a bit more than they first thought they could get away with.

"One ISSA member who used this approach and the ISSA Value of Clean Calculator actually convinced a bank to not just evaluate their cleaning needs, but to increase the amount of cleaning they requested in their tender. This is the power of the right data in the right business case. This data and other Value of Clean tools are complimentary for all companies that join ISSA or renew membership for 2021. To learn more, contact emea@issa.com.   

Preventative cleaning: Reopening in a post pandemic world

In the early stages of the global pandemic, information about the virus and how to combat the spread was unclear and changing by the day. This inconsistent information left many of us struggling to understand how best to enhance health and safety protocols. We have now come to know that COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols or through direct contact. Surfaces and belongings can be easily contaminated by the virus, and the risk of spread is significantly increased when people are in close proximity to each other. 

Social distancing and keeping indoor spaces well ventilated are all key examples of ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus. But it’s also important to consider increasing the frequency of cleaning to reduce the presence of the virus.

In addition to healthcare facilities, environments where group activities are carried out, such as offices, factories, gyms or schools, will need to deploy these preventative cleaning practices to limit the risk of transmission. What’s more, it has never been more critical to restore people’s confidence in revisiting these places that need to resume operations, emphasising the importance of high-quality cleaning programmes. 

Best practice cleaning procedures

According to Jean-Henri Beukes, CEO of Ecocleen, disinfection, sanitisation and sterilisation are three processes expected to be a critical part of our "new normal."

"These measures go one step further than simply frequent hand washing, wiping surfaces and using antibacterial hand gel," said Beukes.

"Preventive cleaning processes need to ensure these environments are not only cleaned at the beginning and end of each day, but throughout the day as well. The frequency of cleaning will often depend on the number of people using the space or visiting the environment. It’s also recommended to reduce clutter and remove difficult to clean items. Not only will this ensure cleaning is much easier, but it also lessens the amount of surfaces that could transmit COVID-19."

Beukes warns that attention should also be paid to high-traffic areas, including surfaces or items that are touched frequently, such as door handles, light switches, lift buttons and bathrooms. However, this will vary depending on the specific conditions of each environment, as they will have different needs and applicable legislation to abide by. For example, frequently touched items will differ significantly between an office environment and a gym. In a working environment, cleaners will place a focus on desk surfaces, electronic devices and remote controls, whereas gym equipment and changing rooms will be the focal point in a leisure facility.

Cleaning up after COVID exposure

In environments that were previously occupied by someone potentially infected with COVID-19, these cleaning best practices will be supplemented with further preventative measures.

Beukes observed: "Areas where a symptomatic person has briefly visited, such as corridors, should be cleaned thoroughly as normal. However, in areas where they have spent substantial time or frequently touched, need to be cleaned and disinfected meticulously, such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones or light switches. 

"It’s also important to safely remove personal waste from individuals with symptoms of coronavirus and waste from cleaning materials used to disinfect areas where they have been. This waste should be stored and not disposed of in communal waste areas until negative test results have been confirmed, or alternatively the waste can be stored for at least 72 hours. Furthermore, cleaners working in these areas should wear minimum PPE, in addition to disposable gloves and an apron. It’s also vital for them to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed."

Educating staff on preventative cleaning

As we move to our new normal, Beukes believes it’s critical for staff working in these environments to receive sufficient training and further education, to help them understand how to properly clean public areas, as well as equipment thoroughly. "From gym managers and teachers to office employees and healthcare professionals, they should all be taught new procedures to ensure they recognise the importance of cleanliness in the fight against COVID-19," he asserted.

"What’s more, they should take part in training to make sure that they are fulfilling the responsibility of their role and that they are up for the task. It’s critical that they completely understand infection control procedures and follow the guidelines to ensure they are providing a safe environment for themselves and visitors to each environment. This training will also contribute to their general wellbeing, which is just as important to safeguard in these circumstances.

"Due to the pandemic, external cleaning services have generated COVID-19 specific cleaning training. This means that all cleaners will undergo training to meet the certain cleaning requirements whilst battling the virus. Staff will also conduct a risk assessment and then sign off the training on a document."

Quality of cleaning products

Beukes added that the next step is to review the quality of products used for preventive cleaning. "We should all be considering using biological products rather than chemicals, as they promote a safer environment, as well as reduce the risk of long-term illness. Eco-friendly cleaning products are on the rise, providing a number of alternatives that compete with regular cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals. Not only do they reduce environmental damage, but they also protect the health of people in these environments. 

"Natural cleaning products also improve air quality, making it a more hygienic and comfortable environment for everyone. This is especially beneficial during the winter months, when windows and doors may not be open as often. These types of cleaning products are also proven to be completely safe for cleaners, as they don’t contain toxins, chemicals or corrosive substances that could be harmful to their health. This is particularly important during this time, as cleaners will have longer or more frequent exposure to cleaning agents when implementing the COVID-19 preventative cleaning measures."

Deploying a commercial cleaning service

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a time of uncertainty and every industry has been left grappling with best practices to keep environments safe. As a result, the demand for high quality cleaning service providers has understandably increased over the past 12 months. Beukes believes that deploying contract cleaners gives peace of mind, as employers and staff can be confident that the environment is safe and organised. He added: "It also means that no one will have the burden of having to ensure the environment is kept clean, reducing the potential stress of having to assign preventative cleaning tasks throughout the day. 

"Professional cleaners are experts in their field and hiring a reputable commercial cleaning service means that the highest standards of cleanliness will be achieved. These cleaners will have received extensive training to understand COVID-19 health and safety measures, as well as experience in preventing the spread of the virus in each environment. What’s more, they will be equipped with proper tools necessary to carry out cleaning tasks to the very highest standard."

Every environment has its own cleaning requirements and, according to Beukes, when hiring a professional cleaning service, a bespoke cleaning programme can be created. "Working closely with the client, they will build tailored cleaning measures to suit their specific needs," he noted. "For example, scheduling the cleaning contractors as and when they are needed throughout the day, and focussing cleaning efforts on high traffic areas. These bespoke services also mean that the plan can devised within any budget, creating value for money for every client."

Looking to our new normal

Reopening in a post pandemic world requires careful planning and attention from everyone. In environments where group activities are carried out, preventative cleaning measures will need to be deployed to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and limit transmission. This includes cleaning environments at the beginning, throughout and at the end of each day, as well as paying special attention to high traffic zones or areas that are frequently touched during the day. Ultimately, Beukes reinforced the need for a regimented cleaning protocol which will help maintain a clean environment and provide reassurance, when cleaners are seen frequently wiping down high traffic zones. 

He concluded: "In addition to safeguarding staff, it’s important to invest in training to make sure the people that are fulfilling the responsibility are up for the task. It’s critical that they completely understand infection control procedures and follow the guidelines to ensure a safe environment for all. The quality of products used for preventive cleaning should also be considered. It’s recommended to use biological products rather than chemicals, as they promote a safer environment and improve air quality. What’s more, commercial cleaning services are on hand to take care of preventative cleaning practices, ensuring peace of mind and creating bespoke cleaning programmes to suit individual needs. 

"Everyone has a role to play in making sure environments are safe and remain open. As a result, transparency is critical in the new normal, with health and safety efforts communicated to help minimise the risk of coronavirus. What’s more, it has never been more vital to restore people’s confidence in revisiting these places, emphasising the importance of high-quality cleaning programmes in the longer term."

A positive outlook for 2021

In the difficult circumstances we face at the moment, it would be easy to be negative about the future of the cleaning and hygiene industry, but in the short, medium and long term, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, Paul Thrupp believes that the outlook is very positive.  

"While we had many challenges within the industry during the pandemic, overall, we have been pulling out the stops to meet rising demand," he said.

"The pandemic has put cleaning and hygiene right at the top of the agenda and reminded everyone of the importance of our sector’s work in protecting people’s health and safety, and whilst it is a shame that it took Coronavirus to highlight our great work, it will, I believe, leave a lasting impression on everyone’s mind.
"People now expect and want to invest in highly visible cleaning and hygiene practices and quality standards and I believe that view and mind-set is here for good.
"Going forward I see increased and sustained investment in cleaning and hygiene services, which will create job opportunities along with the adoption of advanced technological solutions which will help cleaning and hygiene operatives deliver higher standards."

Similarly, James White, MD, Denis Rawlins, thinks the future of the cleaning industry looks very positive with much potential, however it depends on maintaining momentum.

White said: "While the pandemic has been a hugely challenging time for our world, there has been a silver lining for the cleaning industry. Finally, citizens and governments understand the value of our sector, our people and how we contribute to our environment; above all, how we keep it hygienically safe when the threat of coronavirus looms over us. 

"Now that we have had public recognition, we should build upon it. It is time for the cleaning profession to re-fashion itself into a desirable career choice with clear paths of development, progression through continuous training, smart investment and reward structures. I also think that there’s immense value in embracing technology, the importance of data gathering, and perhaps most essential, delivering cleaning services and methods that are scientifically researched and proven. Only in these ways, I feel, will we continue to improve our service and professional brand, especially when we are likely to be faced with future devastating biological threats, as already predicted."

White concluded: "We have the potential to be a highly respected profession, but we must raise the bar ourselves."

The importance of training

End-users’ expectations of cleanliness and hygiene are higher than ever, and will remain so for quite some time, certainly throughout 2021. Joanne Gilliard, CEO of Jangro told Cleaning Matters that ensuring professional cleaning staff receive high quality and relevant training will be essential this year to help uphold these standards.

"Training is critical to help keep the workforce safe whilst it continues to work with COVID-19 in general circulation," she asserted.

"At a time when consumers are much more selective about where they spend their time and money – basing their decisions on hygiene levels – training can make all the difference.  A well-trained employee will achieve a high quality clean every time, enhancing a business’ image and making it a more attractive place to visit. 
Jangro’s award-winning e-learning platform, the Learning Management Solution (LMS), offers a flexible and contact-less approach to training, particularly pertinent whilst social distancing is still required. Highly accessible, it is optimised for all devices, covering a wide range of topics, and was recently accredited by the CPD Certification Service.

"Since cleaning operatives are risking their own health to keep public spaces clean, hygienic and COVID-secure, ensuring they continue to have access to high quality training is the least we can do for them in 2021."

Adapting in a pandemic

Jan-Hein Hemke, managing director of Facilicom UK & Ireland observed that COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of having systems in place to protect people and places. As a result, he thinks organisations will give much more emphasis to making premises safer, from the point of entry onwards.

"The cleaning sector has played a huge role in safeguarding the population and ensuring the spread of the virus is restricted, by implementing robust hygiene practices and effective cleaning systems," Hemke said. "As a result, a spotlight has shone on our industry like never before.

"Cleaning teams have had to adapt quickly in response to COVID-19, often stepping away from their usual role to deliver new services. For instance, we extended our range of infection control support tools, offering fogging, thermal screening cameras, and ‘Return to Work care packages’ amongst other services. 

"Recognising the importance of protecting workplaces, we recently launched SAFER with Facilicom, an Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) surface testing regime. This offers clients a comprehensive package of post-clean surface testing,  reassuring staff returning to their workplace. Starting with an extensive hygiene audit and providing tangible results data, it gives extra validation that key touchpoints and high traffic areas have been effectively sanitised. Certainly, whilst COVID-19 is around, workplace safety will stay top of the agenda."

Changing perceptions
The pandemic has changed perceptions of cleaning and hygiene. As the world emerges, businesses will want to deliver – and be seen to deliver – the highest levels of cleaning, hygiene, and infection prevention to reassure and protect their customers, guests, and employees. To do this, Lynne Snoding, sector marketing manager, BSC, Diversey, UK & Ireland, believes they need new ways to incorporate disinfection and innovations into their everyday tasks to deliver enhanced outcomes that exceed expectations.

"Disinfection will remain critical and it is important to use products that are effective against pathogens of concern," said Snoding. "Manufacturers should be able to demonstrate their products meet the EN14476 virucidal standard and are therefore effective for disinfecting surfaces and hands against enveloped viruses like SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

"Novel formulations such as Diversey’s Oxivir range and technologies such Moonbeam3 Disinfection Technology, which uses UV-C, enable new ways to disinfect surfaces. These and other innovations support greater choice and flexibility to specify the best combination to replace and complement existing processes.

"Cleaning teams will need to do more with less and operate sustainably to meet customer expectations while controlling costs and reducing waste. Switching from the short-term solutions that met immediate needs during the pandemic to professional systems that offer deeper long-term benefits will be part of this process."

Washroom hygiene investment

Award winning washrooms need more than an investment in facilities that are functional and aesthetically current - they need to be well maintained and most importantly spotless – perfect, unstained, immaculate. Cleaning and maintenance must be the most important activities if the washroom provider wants to provide the best facilities for their customers and staff.

"Cleaning is never more important than during an epidemic," said Mike Bone, managing director, Loo of the Year Awards. "However, consistently maintaining high standards of washroom cleaning will act as a deterrent in addition to presenting the facilities as hygienic and attractive. 

"The Washroom Cleaner of the Year Awards form part of the annual Loo of the Year Awards but relate specifically to the cleaning staff that looks after facilities, rather than washrooms themselves – an unbiased independent assessment.

"While Loo of the Year Awards provide adequate recognition for entrant’s washrooms, it is the cleaners who look after each facility, be they individual full-time cleaners, in-house cleaning teams or external cleaning contractors, who also deserve recognition. 

"Cleaning is judged at the same time as the Loo of the Year Awards inspection and any cleaning staff seen at the time of the unannounced visit are deemed to represent the whole cleaning team. There are a Washroom Cleaner of the Year Awards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland, and a National Winner for each country."

Securing the future of employees
In 2020, business landscape has been transformed, almost beyond recognition. The continued and necessary repositioning of the cleaning industry in 2021 will, said John Shonfeld, master, Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners, require some tough and creative choices to secure the future of its 1,600,000 employees. 

"COVID-19 has given us a unique opportunity to demonstrate the vital role of the cleaning industry to society as a whole, said Shonfield.

"Cleaning and hygiene are at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus. Surface, deep cleaning and advising companies on the introduction of protocols is now the norm for us. This will no doubt continue well into 2021. I believe that the marketing and delivery of cleaning services will change as we have adapted to our customers’ requirements. The importance of cleaning should be marketed as a professional service to ensure standards are achieved and maintained  - especially to  reduce risk during the current pandemic.

"We may see more of our industry professional standards complemented by using certified protocols and techniques with appropriate methodologies and chemicals. We don’t need to lose sight of environmentally safe practice, and use ecologically sound chemicals. 

"We as an industry must seize this time to become more politically and professionally astute to lift the profile of the cleaning industry."

Home and remote working

According to Paul Zuidema, managing director EMEA at Ergotron, home and remote working – at least in part – are definitely here to stay. A recent survey reported three quarters of staff currently working from home think it’s likely their employer will continue to let them do so post-COVID. However, as Zuidema noted, another report also revealed that the majority of knowledge workers questioned (72%) would prefer a mix of remote and office work, a hybrid approach.

“With the impact of COVID-19 and the experience of the changes that 2020 brought, numerous stakeholders try to predict what the (ideal) balance should or will be in home and office working but frankly, there is no perfect answer," he said.

"Working from the familiarity of our own home makes us feel good but, on the other hand, our natural human need to socialise is coming under pressure. What we can keep as a lesson among others is to focus on the present time and secure our physical and mental health. At the end of the day, it is being proven that work can happen everywhere – we only need to support the most productive version of it.

“Next year the focus for employers and employees should turn to ensuring a safe, comfortable and productive environment. This means investing in equipment and furniture that fits ergonomically with the technologies that we all use everyday and are fit for purpose to be used in the home environment. Employers can then be confident in the knowledge that even while their workers are alternating between office- and home-working, they have access to ergonomically designed workspaces that benefit both physical and mental health and that enable employees to work where work happens.

"Technically almost everything is possible these days; the big evolutions will have to take place both in an emotional context and the evolving company culture.”

Planning and communication

Since the start of the pandemic, planning and communication have been central and fundamental pillars of the national and global response. Although we are going through a time of huge adjustment and disruption, some things will always stay the same, including the need for clear communications. Ceris Burns, managing director of PR and communications agency, Ceris Burns International said this is essential to good leadership and to drive behaviour change.

"Now more than ever, it’s vital that organisations within the cleaning industry maintain visibility in their target markets," Burns asserted. "With the world increasingly moving online, the sector should also give more emphasis to connecting with audiences through digital marketing.

"COVID-19 has reframed the way we communicate, with organisations everywhere adopting a more empathetic, personal tone in both their internal and external communications. It has also emphasised the significance of the cleaning profession in responding to health crises, helping to stop the spread of infection through robust cleaning and hygiene practices.

"For a long time, the cleaning profession has been undervalued by many outside the field. Now that the sector is gaining wider public recognition and respect, it’s important that we build on these changed perceptions. Through communications, we must continue to emphasise the industry’s professionalism and critical role in safeguarding society."

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The smarter cleaning vision according to FM leaders 06/01/2021

Without doubt, the pandemic will act as a powerful catalyst for workplace change and an accelerator for the transformation of real estate. According to Nils J.van der Zijl, for businesses, it’s providing a window of opportunity to reimagine the future of work to meet the needs of a future, more agile workforce. 

IT'S HARD to predict the long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on working practices in Europe and the knock-on implications for commercial real estate and workspaces. 

Dramatic reports about the demise of the traditional office are too simplistic. The longer the pandemic lasts, and with lockdown restrictions being re-imposed throughout Europe and the wider world, both employers and employees are recognising the value and benefits of the workplace.

However, as a recent JLL study observed, the drop in demand for commercial office space is to be expected as a direct result of the severe global recession, but there is still little evidence that demand won’t bounce back to somewhere near its previous level once the pandemic has passed. As the report observes, increased working from home doesn’t equate to less demand for office space.

Accelerating the shift towards smart buildings

Where there is broad consensus across all corners of the property and facilities management industries is that COVID-19 will speed up the shift towards smart and connected buildings.

Forward-thinking businesses are already looking beyond the immediate priorities of re-entry into buildings and re-thinking how they can better utilize their office and work spaces to provide safer, more engaging and aspirational experiences for their people. And they’re thinking big, re-imagining the ‘emotional, digital and physical dimensions of their spaces’.

As working patterns become more flexible, with a more even split between remote and office-based work, businesses will need to re-think the purpose of their workspaces, to emphasize and maximise the benefits of the aspects of work that cannot be replicated from home. So we’ll see offices re-designed with a greater focus on spaces which encourage face-to-face interaction rather than people working at their desks all day long. We’re also likely to see a strong focus on employee wellbeing, both physical and emotional.

But it’s worth remembering that all of these shifts were happening anyway, prior to the events of this year. Forward-thinking employers were already re-inventing their office spaces to reflect changes in employee behaviour and demands, and to meet the digital-led expectations of new generations of workers. 

And of course there are other drivers for these changes beyond employee experience. The move to smart buildings also enables organisations to drive cost efficiencies through reduced energy consumption and data-driven decision-making, allowing them to run more environmentally-friendly and sustainable operations, as well as enabling greater security and enhancing workforce productivity.

What do smart buildings mean for facilities managers?

The move towards smarter buildings undoubtedly has major implications for the cleaning and FM industry. The make-up of services and delivery models will need to evolve dramatically to cater for smart, connected buildings and the businesses and end users that occupy them. 

And whilst the shift towards smart buildings represents a real opportunity for FM professionals (both on the supply and demand side) to deliver strategic support and counsel to businesses, there are fears that they simply aren’t ready to rise to this challenge, given the immediate pressures and priorities they are juggling.

In research that we carried out at the beginning of the pandemic, 80% of European FM leaders admitted that delivering on their organisation’s smart building and smart workplace vision is a real challenge but 87% said that it needed to be a top priority over the next two years.

The characteristics of smart cleaning

FM leaders recognise the urgent need to innovate within their cleaning operations to support the shift to smart buildings and, most importantly, to meet and anticipate rapidly-evolving expectations around hygiene. Innovation within FM and cleaning has become mission-critical – 73% of senior leaders believe that the whole vision of smart buildings will be compromised without innovation in cleaning over next five years.

The question is… exactly how does cleaning need to change to stay relevant and be a catalyst for transformation?

For a start, cleaning operations will need to become more agile and resilient to cope with the pace and scale of constant change that is set to continue as part of everyday business, even after the pandemic. As a recent Accenture report argued, organisations need to prepare for the decade of the Never Normal, a new era defined by fast changing shifts in cultural norms, societal values and behaviours. For FM providers this means new operating and resourcing models, more flexibility in their servicing agreements and far greater agility in their supply chain.

Beyond this, our research amongst FM leaders pointed to a vision of smart cleaning which embraces innovative technology as a means to optimise cleaning performance and improve productivity. And this technology will be accessed on a lease model rather than through capital expenditure, to ensure service providers have full visibility and control on ongoing costs. 

There was also a widely held belief that commercial models within FM need to evolve, with performance-based contracts, KPIs focused on outcomes rather than time-based metrics and greater use of data and insight.  

Linked to this, within this vision of smart cleaning, was a marked shift towards cobotics within cleaning operations, with cobots supporting frontline staff to improve cleaning performance, ease workload and stress on stretched human resources and increase employee wellbeing. There is also a strong appetite for the data and insight that cobots produce to prove that cleaning tasks have not only been delivered, but done so to a high level of performance and consistency which makes a real difference to overall levels of hygiene.

Overall, 83% of FM leaders felt that the introduction of cobotics aligns with and moves them nearer their smart building vision. 

Cobots such as Whiz, our own cobotic vacuum sweeper, demonstrate a commitment to innovation and new ways of working that are completely in tune with the current challenges that businesses are facing during the pandemic. They free up time for staff to focus on the tasks that make a real difference to clients who are looking to improve hygiene standards and encourage re-entry into their buildings. And the adoption of such innovative technology raises the profile of cleaning and makes it more visible to staff and customers, instilling confidence around the safety of buildings. Cobotic cleaning teams just look different.

But beyond the technology itself, cobots allow contractors to differentiate in other ways. For a start, the cobotic workforce model means that FM providers can offer clients far more flexibility in when and how frequently services are delivered. Contractors also become much better able to manage staff absence and churn by scaling their use of cobots, meaning that any impact on clients is minimised and service levels are consistently maintained. And as we all know, that really is different to the current status quo.

Linked to this, the data that cobots capture allows contractors to measure performance in a consistent and robust way, and to continually optimise performance based on real-time insights. This paves the way for performance-based contracts and fees, something that has long been called for across an FM sector which is still dominated by traditional time or input-based models.

Cleaning must form a key part of FM smart building strategies

Evidently, FM service delivery needs to evolve dramatically over the next few years and FM leaders need to ensure they have the right strategies in place to drive transformation in their organisations. And this strategy has to start with and support a vision of the future workplace, with buy-in across the business.

Worryingly our research found that only 53% of FM leaders currently have a formal strategy around smart buildings, and this figure drops to 51% on the supply side. This is where FM leaders need support from their suppliers and partners to influence and win over stakeholders throughout the business. They need to collaborate to create a picture of the future workforce that their organisation will need to thrive, and the workspace that will best engage and inspire that workforce. From there, they should lean on their partners to help them to devise creative strategies to achieve that vision, embracing innovative technology and new business models to accelerate the journey.

Those FM companies that get these strategies right will be able to get ahead of the curve and demonstrate that they are ready and able to support the shift towards smart buildings and anticipate future trends in working behaviours. In doing so, they can deliver real value to businesses and establish themselves as strategic partners on this exciting journey.                   

Nils J.van der Zijl is VP sales & marketing at Softbank Robotics EMEA.

For more information visit www.softbankrobotics.com/emea/en/index

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Using technology to unlock productivity 06/01/2021

As cleaning companies find ways to recover from the unprecedented past 12 months and adjust to some kind of new normal, Mark Ballance explains why turning to technology and software can put businesses on the path to success.

IN THE response to COVID-19, many cleaning companies saw huge increases in customer demand and watched their revenue rocket. But complying with increased hygiene standards and anti-infection protocols, using new PPE where required and keeping to social distancing may have been less than kind to the bottom line.

Once efficient, profitable organisations may have become overwhelmed, stretched and disconnected. In a crisis situation that’s understandable. But as we move into Spring, the weather improves and the vaccine rolls out, companies need to consider the long-term business implications of the pandemic and re-assess their internal operations.

Technology, in terms of science, has helped us find a way out of the global pandemic through vaccines. Technology can also help cleaning professionals to take back control of their businesses and move forwards in an organised, structured and more efficient way, saving time and money.

The use of technology to improve efficiency through equipment is not new to the cleaning industry. For many years, the latest, innovative cleaning machinery has enabled companies to clean more quickly, more effectively, or with less staff. Upright vacuum cleaners can cover larger floor areas in less time, as well as improve the appearance of carpet. The most advanced, patented microfibre cloth technology may well remove 99.99% of bacteria, significantly reducing the risk of cross-contamination in an infection control environment. Robotic and autonomous cleaners can even take over jobs in areas where staff are hard to come by. But is software the top of your list when it comes to finding ways to work smarter?

Making a difference
The right software can make a huge difference to productivity. Whether your operation is big or small, commercial, industrial or domestic, software can help. Software can unlock increased effectiveness in many aspects of a business. At the ‘front end’, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can effectively manage new client enquiries and help to generate a pipeline of new customers. At the ‘back end’, using software to automate invoicing, payroll and other accounting processes can ensure precious time is spent focussed on client delivery, not managing paperwork. In between, software can be used for virtual staff training on new equipment, health and safety and other procedures. But what about the day-to-day operations of a business?

Managing staff can be one of the biggest challenges of running a cleaning company. How many times have staff been double booked? Holidays clashed? Employees left waiting for the next job? Scrambling to cover jobs after staff phone in sick? Responding to a changing work environment has been a fundamental part of the past 12 months. As staff have had to isolate, adjust to new restrictions and requirements, having visibility within your operation has been critical to understanding who is available, when, to do what.

Scheduling software can give you that visibility. But it can also unlock much more value for your business. Resource management and scheduling software like Schedule it can organise your staff, equipment, clients and tasks, quickly and easily, all in one place, saving you time and reducing your costs. You can schedule any type of resource and asset, planning all of your staff, clients, equipment, locations, jobs, tasks, projects, training and any other important activities you need to track in one system. Schedules can be easily updated, saving hours of staff time reorganising or reprinting schedules. In-built software assistants prevent over-booking of staff or equipment and ensure that any critical skills are covered. No more double-booking of jobs, or staff gaps after holidays clash. Having the right people in the right place at the right time ensures that time is well spent on generating revenue and profit for your business.

Analyse your resources
Do you know where time and money is actually being spent in your business? With software like Schedule it, not only can you easily allocate and schedule work within your team, you can also start to analyse productivity and uncover potential business savings. Access fully-customisable reports on any of your resources or events, such as time-sheets, order forms, booking sheets, or job cards. View them online or export them to other software tools like Excel, so that you can easily see utilisation and other statistical information. Understand who is working on a customer, where it is and what is needed.

Tag people, clients, the work type, equipment required, payment status and so much more with unlimited tagging. Show planned work schedules in a timeline from one day up to one year, traditional month, week and day calendar layouts, a list of activities, Gantt chart or a map to visualise the location of all of your assets, users and planned work. This can help with forward planning for the recruitment of either new staff or new customers, or looking to see where other changes such as new equipment may increase productivity in your business. 

With access from any device and integration with other tools like Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal and more, users can quickly see and be reminded of their next task, receiving schedule alerts, reminders and updates in their favourite communication tool. You can easily alert multiple users to any schedule changes with just one click or remind them to complete regular tasks, like submitting time-sheets or cleaning certain pieces of equipment.

The software can integrate with your existing devices with desktop versions, web access and mobile apps. You can also convert incoming text messages from users or clients into new tasks and events in your Schedule it account as well as send alerts via a text message or SMS using other software tools like ClickSend, Zapier and Twilio, reaching your staff in whichever way works best for them. 

With track-and-trace still likely to be with us for some time, company audit trails which keep track of which staff did what, where and when are critical. With Schedule it you can quickly access full event history and an audit trail for all of your people, clients and other resources such as cleaning equipment or vehicles. Once an activity is planned, it is never lost and is always available for viewing and reporting on at any time, on any device. This could help isolate quickly any staff which may have been exposed to the virus. It could also help access data on recurrent equipment issues which can be resolved to increase time spent on task.

Choose wisely
Just as all automated cleaning robots or sensor hand dryers are not made the same, resource management software varies by provider. From the simplest programmes to use to the most complex and from free versions to very expensive systems. Evaluate several different options to see which will have the biggest positive impact on your business.

Price is of course a factor, but even pricing models can be different depending on the supplier, so think about how many people will need to access the scheduling system and in what way. Does the software solution limit the number of users or the number of resources you can schedule? If so, are you likely to exceed it and incur further costs? Some companies offer free trials of their software so that you can see first-hand how easy (or complex) the system is to use whether it meets your business requirements.

Once you have selected a software solution, embarking on any new software roll-out has its challenges. Like any change, staff must be trained in the new ways of working, and this time spent training can feel like a significant reduction in productivity before you start to reap the benefits. But for thousands of companies across the world, from the cleaning sector, aviation, technology, training and more, implementing scheduling software has saved them valuable time and money. Whether it’s major organisations like NHS, Network Rail or BBC News, global firms like Microsoft and Siemens, through to local plumbing firms running teams of 5-10 engineers, resource management software has helped them unlock greater productivity.

As the world tries to recover from the effects of COVID-19, ways of increasing productivity and operating more effectively must surely be welcome. Not only can software like Schedule it reduce planning errors and avoid missing bookings, but it can also reduce manual paperwork, save time scheduling and linking reports, reduce telephone calls and emails, provide clear visibility and better utilisation of all your resources. An attractive business platform from which to spring into 2021.

Mark Ballance is founder and Director of Schedule it.

For more information visit www.scheduleit.com 

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The importance of office cleaning due to COVID-19 06/01/2021

AS AN employer, you must take appropriate action to protect your staff, and visitors from harm. This includes taking any reasonable steps to protect your workers and others visiting your premises from COVID-19.

Coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces to people again and it can do so at an alarming rate. By keeping your place of work clean, you’re helping to reduce the risk and in turn your own liability. 

Clean to reduce the risk

You may be aware that you must carry out a risk assessment in order to help you, as an employer, manage the risk to yourself and your staff. It’s this risk assessment that can provide you with the guidance needed to determine your cleaning regime. Your cleaning regime now will be instrumental in ensuring your place of work is a safe one and more specifically, COVID secure.
Basic office however, simply will not cut it during what can only be described as very unprecedented times. Cleaning needs to be taken up a step and it all begins with those high-traffic touch points. What do we mean by touch points?

  • Work surfaces including desks and workstations
  • Handles and buttons on doors, windows, lifts and other areas
  • Commonly used areas such as toilets, reception desks, lifts etc
  • Vehicle handles, steering wheels, seat belts and other commonly touched points
  • Computer keyboards, touch screens and phones
  • Common area appliances - kettles, fridges, microwaves etc
  • Shared equipment or tools such as printers, fax machines
  • Post as well as any other goods being shipped in/out.

With this in mind, it’s important to identify not only a more efficient regular office cleaning routine but also sporadic deep cleaning too.

How deep cleaning can help

Deep cleaning will include cleaning of areas and objects that may not necessarily be cleaned within a regular office clean. From carpets to walls and so much more. You may also benefit from the likes of fogging sanitisation after a deep clean to not only ensure a clean space but protect your surfaces by creating what is essentially a hostile environment for the virus to remain on.

With regular deep cleaning, you’re ensuring your workspace and the workspace of your employees is as clean as humanly possible. This is through the use of not only high-tech equipment and industrial solutions, but highly-trained teams of cleaners who’ll ensure a virus-free space upon completion.

Regular cleans will keep on top of deep cleans

While some may feel deep cleaning is enough, it’s essential to back up a sporadic deep cleaning routine with regular office cleaning to ensure the above mentioned touch points are kept on top of, along with other areas. This may be carried out once a day, sometimes even twice a day to ensure touch points and work stations do not become a harbinger of germs and bacteria.

Reduce your risk of illness & liability in one

With regular deep cleaning and regular office cleaning, you can ensure that you’re reducing the risk as much as humanly possible to both you and your staff. You’ll remain on the right side of the law too, with evidence to show you’re taking precautionary action to protect your workers during this time. 

If you’d like to find out more about office cleaning and deep cleaning, we recommend contacting Cleaning Express, one of London’s leading commercial cleaning companies on 0203 633 0390. 

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Supporting employees in a COVID-conscious world 06/01/2021

SPECIALISTS FROM Towergate Health & Protection have provided information for employers and how they need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt benefits in the coming year.

In the working world alone, Covid has changed almost every aspect of our lives, from how we interact with others, to what constitutes the workplace. The pandemic has changed our attitudes and forced even the young to realise their mortality.

Debra Clark, head of specialist, Towergate Health & Protection said: "COVID-19 has given us stark statistics, with infection and death rates reported daily.

"Employers have seen an impact on their workforce, with an increased awareness of mortality shaping the requirements of health and wellbeing programmes and influencing employee benefit decisions. Offering health and wellbeing benefits can no longer be a tick-box exercise, it must be front and centre of corporate agendas. Now is the time for employers to act to ensure their benefits are current, relevant and addressing the very real concerns of their employees."

When looking at how best to support employees during 2021, employers must:

Focus on prevention
Prevention is a major watchword in wellbeing at the moment and in light of the tougher restrictions announced yesterday (4 Jan) this will be even more applicable. Employees are interested in benefits that will help them to stay fit and healthy. Employers need to consider providing access to educational programmes including webinars and health tips; more tangible lifestyle and fitness support, such as exercise classes; healthy eating plans and cycle to work schemes, or literal preventative measures, such as flu vaccinations.   

Extend benefits
In many businesses, employees are no longer working in quite the same way. Employers need to consider benefits for remote and part-time workers as staff diversify in terms of their work patterns and locations. Benefits need to match the flexibility of the roles now in place. Forward-thinking employers are extending benefits to cover dependants, recognising that an employee’s wellbeing is affected by their home environment too. Supporting dependants lifts a burden for employees.
Whereas traditionally some benefits have been thought of as being for senior levels only, employers need to expand health and wellbeing benefits to the wider workforce. Offering healthcare to a larger number of employees will have a positive impact for the business and employees alike.

Personalise provision 
Personalisation is key to engagement and utilisation of benefits. Solutions that are varied and flexible will provide the best fit for each individual. Health and wellbeing benefits often come with added-value options that include personalised programmes such as hubs and apps, where individuals can enter data each day regarding how they feel physically and/or emotionally. These can provide a nudge or prompt for self-support or for access to additional assistance. Similarly, fitness trackers can be updated with individual details to monitor progress and set goals.  

Protect finances 
Some employees will be concerned over future finances. Reports in the media of ongoing furlough, reduced hours and redundancies will only fuel such worries. Consequently, there is increased interest in benefits that protect employees’ finances. Group risk products will appeal, providing financial, emotional and practical support at times of ill-health, disability or in the event of death, all of which support employees and/or their families in difficult times.

Use wider communication methods
Engaging employees will be vital, not only regarding benefits, but also to keep in touch with staff to support their physical and mental health. Regular contact with colleagues helps to maintain both morale and focus. Support for emotional wellbeing can be made available in the form of access to specialist mental health support, personalised hubs, or employee assistance programmes. Online benefits platforms allow employers to administer and promote benefits in one place, they help gain maximum engagement and make educational and support services easily available. 

Debra Clark concluded: "COVID-19 has put health, wellbeing and protection right back at the top of the benefits agenda. Employees have had a valuable reminder of what is really important to them – their family and their health. Employers too have had an awakening and now is the time to take action to ensure that their main assets, their people, are protected."

For more information visit www.towergatehealthandprotection.co.uk/

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APPG will give cleaning and hygiene industry a voice in Parliament 11/01/2021

THE BRITISH Cleaning Council (BCC) is sponsoring the creation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to represent the cleaning and hygiene sector in the Houses of Parliament.

The aim is to give the industry a voice in Parliament, allow it to influence discussions, debate and pose questions and to influence ministers and the Government.

The BCC has been working to attract prominent MPs to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, particularly those who represent constituencies where cleaning and hygiene sector businesses are based, particularly SMEs.

It is working alongside Stephen Kerr, the former Member of Parliament for Stirling, who knows the cleaning and hygiene industry well, as both a former Sales Director with Kimberly-Clark Professional before his election and as an unpaid Parliamentary Adviser to the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) during his time as an MP.

Parliament needs to approve the establishment of any APPG and it is hoped that this ‘inauguration’ could happen early in 2021. The group would also elect its own chair. Details of its membership can not be confirmed until then.

Chairman of the BCC, Paul Thrupp (pictured), said: “Cleaning and hygiene operatives were once known as an invisible workforce but during the Coronavirus pandemic and due to the BCC’s constant lobbying, there is now much more recognition of the industry and its operatives.

“The creation of an APPG for the cleaning and hygiene industry is the next step in that process.

“Through it, we will ensure that MPs, ministers and the Government are made aware of the huge size of this industry, its massive contribution to the economy and the vital role that cleaning and hygiene operatives have in protecting people’s health and safety, particularly as we recover from the pandemic.

“The APPG will enable us to provide expert guidance and assistance to the Government and the country, allow us to put critical and relevant issues on the Parliamentary agenda and provide a forum for an exchange of views between MPs and those involved in the cleaning and hygiene industry.

“It will give the industry, the BCC and all our members a voice at the highest levels, helping to ensure that we have a say when decisions are made that affect us, at a time when we have never been so depended on or needed so much.”

Mr Kerr said: “The APPG will make a massive difference by ensuring MPs are informed and aware of issues relating to the cleaning and hygiene sector.

“It is about MPs working together with the BCC to get the UK cleaning industry a fair hearing in Parliament and with ministers. Over the past five years, with Brexit and Covid, we have seen that it is essential for business to engage with politicians.

“MPs need good information about business. When they make policy decisions which are detrimental to a particular business sector, it is usually because that business has not communicated with them, so they are not fully informed." 

The BCC has 21 members from across the cleaning and hygiene sector. Research it published early this year shows that the sector is a UK top ten industry, employing 1.63 million people and contributing over £54bn to the economy.

All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.

APPG members meet to discuss a particular issue of concern and explore relevant issues relating to their topic. APPGs regularly examine issues of policy relating to particular areas, discussing new developments, inviting stakeholders and Government ministers to speak at their meetings, and holding inquiries into pertinent matters.

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