It appears that the United States is on the precipice of having a solution to the tortuous, nearly year-long struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s fair to assume — but not guaranteed — that because of the planned distribution of the two COVID-19 vaccines, many businesses will soon open their doors again, if they haven’t already. That’s good news.
The other good news is that offices, classrooms, restaurants and other venues that will be opening back up will be doing so in a world that’s been forever changed and is indubitably more focused on cleanliness. To deal with this, facility cleaning managers must strengthen dialogues with their customers, reevaluate their cleaning techniques and procedures, and put systems in place to ensure that cleaning quality isn’t later ignored.
Much has been said about how Americans will experience a “new normal” after the pandemic concludes. Sure, the bustle in the office will eventually return, but with a different feel. For example, businesses that do opt to restore in-house job performance in favor of temporary work-from-home situations could do so with drastically different cleaning operations in place.
Most cleaning operations will shift their priorities from cleaning for appearance to cleaning for health and safety, said Mike Sawchuk, president of Sawchuk Consulting, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Since the look of clean will now be devalued in favor of cleaning for health — a welcomed change for the many in the industry — building occupants will seek other cues to help them determine that the job is being done correctly.
“They’re looking for concrete examples and specifics,” says Sawchuk. “They want to be told and shown what cleaning and disinfecting you’re doing and at what frequencies.”
It’s hard to demonstrate that these actions are taking place in situations where workers are not visible, like during the more traditional evening cleaning schedule. To prove that the work is being done after the students or employees leave, Sawchuk recommends putting a sticker or log on the door used to enter and exit a room after it has been cleaned. That little gesture gives building occupants a bit more confidence that the room has been cleaned and disinfected because the sticker won’t be broken until they enter in the morning, or the user can view the log entry.
Yes, evening cleaning has typically been the norm, but it could soon be a way of the past. In many cases, scheduling will have to be evaluated and changed so that cleaning is done during the day, says Shari Solomon, president of CleanHealth Environmental, Silver Spring, Maryland. By bringing cleaning to the forefront — unlike it was prior to the pandemic — customers benefit in a couple of ways.
For one, the sight of people cleaning rooms, hallways and objects during the day is comforting, thus delivering some physiological benefits. Secondly, it enhances the overall cleanliness of a facility because frequently-used objects are being cared for as people use them throughout the day.