The cleaning industry continues to assess the essential lessons learnt from COVID-19.
Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group and CEO of Sustainablity Dashboard Tools, Inc., highlights five key essentials from the pandemic for the cleaning industry.
“The professional cleaning industry did not shut down like other industries,” says Ashkin, “but we certainly did have our share of potholes. Ultimately, I believe essential lessons were learned during the pandemic that will help us move beyond COVID-19.”
Ashkin identified five lessons he learned from COVID-19:
The industry is essential
Never has it been truer that our industry’s primary job is to protect human health. “COVID-19has turned the expression ‘cleaning for health’ into a reality,” says Ashkin. “It’s who we are and what we do.”
Perhaps the most important lesson is that cleaning is a critical tool for protecting health, but only when done effectively and thoroughly. The cleaning industry offers a wide variety of innovative methods and products that are not only effective but also a benefit to human health and the environment. However, these benefits are only realized when frontline workers have the time to clean thoroughly.
Cleaning does not happen by magic. Well-trained, frontline cleaning workers are needed for any cleaning company to fulfill its mission. Cleaning workers are now, finally, recognized for the essential roles they play.
The training of cleaning and frontline workers is more important than ever before. COVID-19 has taught us that education must go beyond cleaning procedures and mandated training to include the basics of infection control and prevention so that workers know how to clean for health and protect themselves. Training should also include the science of cleaning so that workers can make informed decisions on cleaning products and processes, quality control procedures, ergonomics, and more.
Many building owners and managers responded to COVID-19 by simply increasing cleaning frequencies. Post-COVID, many of those owners and managers will likely be considering scaling back. “But to clean for health, cleaning must be performed more thoroughly than pre-COVID-19 levels,” says Ashkin. “This means owners and managers should expect to pay more for this essential service.”
As a result, he says, buildings should budget up to 50 per cent more in cleaning costs compared to pre-pandemic costs as frontline workers will need to reduce their “production rate,” which is the square footage a worker is expected to clean in an eight-hour day.
Learning and growing together
The cleaning industry performs a valuable service and buildings are certainly getting their money’s worth of service right now. But if building owners want healthy, high-performing facilities, they will need to demand thorough cleaning based on sound science and public health measures — and in many cases, will have to pay more for it.
“Ultimately, the cleaning industry is saving lives,” concludes Ashkin. “To clean thoroughly and effectively by trained workers, using quality tools and methods, costs money. Ultimately, we must be paid for the value we provide.”