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The Clean Space

As more and more organisations work tirelessly to entice employees back to the workplace this Autumn, there is inevitably an increased focus on consistently delivering quality cleaning.

With all eyes on cleaning when it comes to instilling employee confidence, many facilities managers only have gut feel (their instincts) to rely upon when measuring the quality of the commercial cleaning service they are receiving.

Rightly so, we tend to expect the important cleaning tasks are being done and done properly. The most common measure of cleaning quality is often – ‘does the place feel clean?’. And in many instances, the first awareness of poor service comes from complaints about the cleaning.

So, how can you properly assess the quality of your cleaning services?

Download a PDF version of the Checklist here.

Taking direct insights from our expert cleaning team who help hundreds of customers do this day in day out, we’ve compiled a list of the ways you can tell quickly if your cleaning standards are dropping:

1. Flat Surfaces Are a Giveaway

It’s generally easy to check the obvious areas for signs of dirt – floors, ledges and flat surfaces should be checked visually but also using a swipe test with a clean cloth. If there is visible build up and residual dirt on your cloth, this is a sign the areas are either not being cleaned well, or not being cleaned frequently enough.

2. Delve a Little Deeper

Unless you are working as a cleaner, there are some areas you may not always think to check. Toilets are a great example – have the toilets not only been cleaned but are they being descaled regularly too? This can be a good indicator of how superficially clean things may be vs. how much attention to detail is being paid to the cleaning overall.

3. Are Periodic Tasks Being Completed?

There are many cleaning tasks that are not done every day. These ‘periodic’ tasks are a good indication of how proactive and well supervised cleaning teams are. Are they maintaining the floors as they should?  Are they being revarnished regularly? What about high-level cleaning? Is there dust and dirt on doorframes, the tops of and behind furniture and other areas you wouldn’t check every day? If these areas are being missed and are on your specification or rota, it’s likely other things may be being missed too.

4. When Did You Last Look in The Cleaning Cupboard?

The cleaning store cupboard is a great way to determine the level of care and attention your cleaning provider (and its staff) are paying to your cleaning standards. Look at the state of the equipment they are using. Is it good quality, well maintained and fit for purpose? Just because someone pushes a vacuum about, doesn’t mean the vacuum is working optimally and itself being cleaned periodically. Look for obvious clues – is the cupboard locked safely, well organised, and tidy? Does it smell bad? Can you easily find safety information such as COSHH, product sheets and other H&S information? If the cupboard is neglected or equipment old and defunct, you should be seriously considering the quality of service you are getting elsewhere.

5. Do You Have and Use a Communications Book?

Not all cleaning companies use communications books, but they are a superb way to keep feedback flowing between cleaners, supervisors and your internal teams. It might be you don’t see your cleaning teams often (they may work out of hours) or you may be in meetings and busy when they come during office hours. This means communication can quickly break down. The communications book is not only a great way to communicate but also keep a log and audit trail of feedback. If you don’t have one for your cleaning team, ask for one.

6. Fail to Prepare… Specifications & Site Audits Tell All

Do you have a written cleaning specification document and when was it last reviewed by you and your contract manager? Do you know clearly what is on and off spec? Failing to prepare at the outset will inevitably lead to problems later in your contract. This fundamental piece of planning must also be regularly updated in line with your changing business needs (especially true post-pandemic). Supported by a thorough site auditing schedule, you should have clear analysis of how well the cleaners are performing against the KPIs you set at the start of your contract. If site auditing is lacking or falls behind schedule, standards will likely drop too.

7. How Many Cleaning Staff and Managers Have You Had in the Last Year?

While staff turnover in cleaning is traditionally much higher than other sectors, this isn’t true of all companies. The volume of turnover in your cleaning team is a strong indicator of the quality of the company that employs them. It may also give insight into how the cleaning company cares for and recognises its staff. Simply asking your cleaners on the front line how they feel can also be a great way to unlock issues you may not have known existed. Look to identify if they have clear progression plans, regular support and access to their line manager and assess their behaviours to see if cleaners are happy in their roles. A demotivated, frustrated or resentful cleaner is not an effective cleaner who takes pride in their work.

8. Cover Shouldn’t Be a Last-Minute Arrangement

Simply put, do you know who provides cover when your usual cleaners are sick or take leave? It’s important this is something that’s addressed before the circumstances arise so that any cover cleaners are properly vetted and trained on your site, the products you use and your personal specification.

9. Sometimes Things Just Need Escalating

How easy is it to escalate things when you have a problem? A well-run cleaning company will ensure you know and already have open lines of communication with the supervisors and senior managers responsible for your contract. If escalating complaints isn’t easy, quick, and if it’s not received openly, then this can be a serious warning sign.  A cleaning company that is not eager to hear feedback on its employees or services, is probably not a performance oriented one overall.

How Much Do You Trust Your Cleaning Partner?

How did you score on our checklist?

If managing cleaning in your organisation is something you spend too much time worrying about (or worse still, actively managing yourself), then red flags should be up. Quality service is not just be about how clean something is – it also needs to be an enabler – a service well managed enough that it frees you up to do other more important things with your time.

Trusting your cleaning partner is key. And when you assume things are being done, you need to do so safe in the knowledge that a manager or supervisor is worrying about it for you. Cleaning shouldn’t be a time drain for you. If it is it might be time to look for a more supportive and reliable cleaning services partner.

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The Clean Space is a trading name of Standard Office Cleaning (UK) Ltd, 5 Chancery Lane, London, EC4A 1BL. Company registered in England and Wales, Registration No. 04746094. VAT Registration No. GB 810 8645 37.