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Carpet care and astro turf adventures at Mind Candy7th of March 2014
When the term ‘carpet care’ is mentioned, astro turf carpeting does not normally spring to mind, but that’s what the majority of flooring in Mind Candy’s new headquarters consists of. Mind Candy is the world’s fastest growing digital entertainment company and creator of Moshi Monsters. The company moved into its new headquarters in 2013 to accommodate its expanding team of 200 staff.
As a company at the cutting edge of the technology sector, Mind Candy’s offices in London are anything but ordinary.
In the online Moshi world, children can adopt their own ‘monster’, go on adventures, play games, solve puzzles, be creative, and interact with their friends. With over 70 million registered users in 150 territories worldwide, Moshi Monsters - the online world of adoptable pet monsters for boys and girls aged between six and 12 – has become a global phenomenon. Moshi has now expanded into the offline world through books, magazines, trading cards, toys, gaming, music, mobile apps, cartoons, a film and much more.
Moshi Monsters live in a forest – which is reflected in the woodland themed décor of the newly refurbished surroundings. The green astro turf carpeting lines much of the headquarters, which is split over two floors covering around 30,000 square feet. It houses around 200 staff when fully occupied, the reception desk is a large tree trunk and the boardroom is a log cabin.
Artificial turf is a surface of synthetic fibres made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas where sports were originally played on grass, but it’s now used on residential lawns as well as in commercial applications, clubs and hotels, and provides safe flooring for educational facilities. The use of the realistic grass really wows visitors as they enter the Mind Candy offices and brings an exciting sense of the outdoors, as well as encouraging worker creativity.
The first patent was registered by the Monsanto Company for a monofilament ribbon surface that would later become astro turf. The main outline of the patent was to produce a product to simulate grasses for a variety of leisure and sport uses. The early versions of astro turf
were produced to provide a decorative use but not to withstand outdoor sport and leisure use.
Artificial turf first gained substantial attention in the 1960s, when it was used in the newly constructed Astrodome, the world’s first multipurpose, domed sports stadium located in Houston, Texas, USA. The term astro turf has since become a colloquialism for any artificial turf throughout the late 20th century.
Synthetic grass can withstand significantly more use than natural grass and can be vacuumed, broom cleaned and hose washed. It is also very hard wearing which is ideal for high footfall areas. Deep cleaning is advisable at least once a year. This lifts and opens up the carpet pile and removes contamination. Over time contaminants will build up on and within the surface from airborne particles, dust and fibres from the natural wear of the turf.
Children come to the Mind Candy HQ after school to test the games in a room which has been converted into a tree-house, and a stainless steel slide enables children and staff to shoot down to the lower floor. Velvet sofas in the breakout areas and an array of colourful bean bags are just some of the additional furnishings requiring specialist cleaning techniques. There’s also a kitchen and eating area with booths and a 16-foot wooden dining table where employees can hold lunch meetings and where a chef comes in once a month to cook for the staff.
Fake ivy dangles from the ceilings and there are plants galore throughout the building. Many of the walls have Moshi Monster art drawn on them as black and white wall paper, which is then coloured in by visiting children. The glass walls and doors into meeting rooms incorporate life-size designs from Moshi Monsters’ games including Main Street and the Underground Disco.
Taking care of these different surfaces and materials is all in a day’s work for cleaning contractor Julius Rutherfoord & Co, thanks to the know-how of its well-trained staff but a deeper understanding of how a brand works is also important, as Andy de Sallis, sales and marketing director for Julius Rutherfoord, explains:
“Hi-tech, highly creative environments such as the Mind Candy offices need cleaning regimes which reflect how the company works. For example, their offices have huge expanses of white walling – called ‘scrum walls’ – that are used by software companies to project manage software and product development. As a consequence, they are covered in coloured sticky notes, each of which details a task to be completed within a given timescale. Our staff know only to clean these areas when the client tells us it’s safe to do so – thus guarding against the loss of some key piece of coding or the next big product idea!”
Henry mutates into a Moshi!
The ability to truly understand and ‘get under the skin’ of the Moshi Monster brand was, de Sallis believes, one of the key reasons why Julius Rutherfoord won the contract with Mind Candy. “We have a combined sales and marketing function at Julius Rutherfoord. This means that two quite individual teams with differing skill sets work in synergy alongside each other, resulting in a commercially-minded marketing team and a brand-savvy sales team - the perfect combination in my books.”
As part of the tender, they re-branded a Henry vacuum as the Moshi Monster character Diavlo – an idea that instantly struck a chord with Mind Candy’s management team. The scuff-proof graphics on all the Diavlo vacuums make them a perfect fit for the surroundings, but also deliver fantastic cleaning results for all the flooring surfaces.
When outsourcing floorcare and other cleaning tasks, organisations must be confident that the cleaning staff pose no threat to business operations. After all, they get considerable access to offices during the quieter hours.
When recruiting staff Julius Rutherfoord uses similar passport and identity document scanning technology to that used by customs personnel at international airports. Every passport and ID document is scanned to check its authenticity against an international database in the Netherlands which holds the details of passports and other forms of ID from over 200 countries. This technology enables fake passports or ID documents to be identified in seconds which means that Mind Candy is guaranteed a 100 per cent legal workforce.
While some organisations settle for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks – which replaced CRB checks – these are useless if the ID in question is fake because fictitious people will not appear on criminal records. People who don’t exist will pass the check – and give you a false sense of security. And, if they’re working illegally, there is a risk of prosecution by the Home Office.
In addition, employees sign in and out with a short phone call, from a dedicated line within Mind Candy’s premises that is linked automatically to Julius Rutherfoord’s time and attendance system. They have two ways to check who’s making the call - caller ID to check where they’re calling from, and a unique pin code they must enter. The system also guarantees that Mind Candy gets the exact level of service it has paid for.
Downstairs at Julius Rutherfoord’s headquarters is one of the cleanest rooms you’ll ever see. Throughout each day it gets cleaned again and again - for this is where staff are trained. No-one steps out in Julius Rutherfoord uniform until they’ve passed through the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) accredited training academy. And when the firm inheritsTUPE staff, each one must retrain, so the contract cleaner knows they’re good enough for its high standards.
There’s a lot to learn. Some of the equipment can be quite technical. But even with the simpler processes of cleaning, there’s always a right way, a safe way and a more productive way to do things. That’s what they’ve learnt - and that’s what they teach.
Then every six months, at least, cleaning staff are retrained. The organisation likes to keep perfecting its systems so there might be a new health and safety procedure to learn, or a more environmentally productive procedure to practise. This can happen on-site, led by one of the area managers who are BICSc accredited trainers.
While on-site with clients, area managers and quality auditors use handheld PDAs to record a vast array of data about cleaning performance. With this information, Julius Rutherfoord’s head office can check whether the business is accurately meeting the requirements set out in the cleaning specification, ensure relevant compliances and instantly create a site audit for clients. Cleaning operatives can even provide a date and time stamped photo capture of the area to be cleaned before and after the work has been completed, giving clients total peace of mind.