Ways of working have been transformed in the last 20 years with changes in technology, organisational work patterns and lifestyle increasingly meaning that many people work flexibly, using different working environments within and outside the workplace, which is increasingly not just an office. Individually assigned desks are becoming a thing of the past and agile and activity based working the norm. Demand for coworking spaces is escalating, with their strong design, customer centric approach, cohesive communities and flexible lease models attracting medium and large corporates as well as small start-ups.
What does this change mean for cleaning services providers?
Most FM service providers like to believe they are extremely flexible, able to meet customers’ needs at a moment’s notice. While this may be partly true, more thought and planning is often required to maintain high quality standards across the space when the number of workplace users varies considerably, and they are constantly moving between different areas. The expectations of different groups, or companies in the case of coworking spaces, need to be met, and good communication between the Facilities Manager and the service partner are critical.
Demand-led, outcome-focused cleaning should result in increased responsiveness and efficiency, greater wellbeing, and reduced wastage of cleaning supplies. Investing in beacon or sensor technology can help understand how a building is used, facilitating the change and allowing cleaning schedules to be tailored to providing a better service for customers, enhancing the workplace experience for employees and visitors. As user preferences continue to shape services, mobile communications technology can quickly alert the facilities team to demand, spillages or incidents, ensuring that areas are cleaned based upon need and level of use rather than through arbitrary, scheduled cleaning.
The move away from the traditional individual desk, or even offices, means that working areas can be used by many individuals throughout the working day. In coworking spaces, and some multi-tenanted buildings, shared meeting rooms may be used by many different customers across the working day, and must be spotless for each new user. This flexibility is accompanied by an increased risk of contamination and the spread of bacteria and viruses. New cleaning regimes are required which carefully balance the need to deliver clean work environments, whilst doing so in a manner that is not affecting workplace or local air quality or work surface over treatment, which can negatively impact on immune health. Daytime janitorial support plays a vital role, having access to, or sight of, the FM’s space booking planner to ensure that cleaning is aligned with the requirements of that particular day. Increasingly the cleaning operating model can be flexed to accommodate room set-up and reclamation, within which hygienic cleaning is carried out.
As wellbeing continues to form a significant part of an employers’ support package, the importance of a hygienic, welcoming working environment increases too. Emerging national and international standards for cleaning process that support wellbeing, including avoiding over-cleaning, demand that FMs can trust their cleaning partner to stay abreast of the training, equipment and materials needed to underpin the standard.
Maximising service provider’s resources
There is often significant overlap in the activities of service providers within a building, and a more holistic and flexible approach can lead to more efficient building operations and a better customer experience. With some thought and planning, receptionists, cleaners and security guards can work together, sharing information and supporting each other, ensuring that employees are welcomed into a clean and safe building, creating and enhancing customer satisfaction. Cleaning providers can also encourage building users to reduce waste, and to segregate effectively, through sharing information with teams on recycling rates, costs and environmental impact.
Are we flexible in the way we manage our workforce?
The increasingly flexible workplace presents challenges for service providers and their team members. A survey published for the conference call provider Powwownow found that nearly three-quarters of UK employees believe flexible working would make a job more appealing, while a third would prefer flexible working to a pay rise. Recruiting and retaining high-quality FM staff continues to be an issue, particularly in London and the South East, and in most cases flexible working for cleaners is not feasible.
Ensuring employees are rewarded appropriately for the work they do is fundamental, and NJC is proud to be a Recognised Service Provider working with the Living Wage Foundation. However, it is a about a lot more than that. Flexible working patterns and the ability for employees to work shift patterns that fit with the demands of other parts of their life can also play a major part. Equally, flexible reward packages, bring value to the specific needs of individuals.
Flexible working in offices can enhance communication, increase engagement and bring efficiencies, through both higher individual productivity and better use of space. Ensuring the best customer experience and the highest standards requires flexibility in cleaning operations, supported by technology and excellent communications. Increasingly what we do is ‘Not Just Cleaning’ and our service continues to evolve!