Focus on the future - cleaning smarter

18th of April 2023 Article by Lauren Kyle
Focus on the future - cleaning smarter

Sodexo UK & Ireland's head of cleaning Lauren Kyle speaks to ECJ about how the services provider is focusing on the role of digital technology and how it can impact on the client and staff experience.

At Sodexo we are always considering how we can incorporate the latest technologies into the way we deliver cleaning services, whether it's digital solutions or autonomous machines.

Any new technology we introduce must be for the right reasons, it must add value. And it's always done in consultation with our cleaning teams. A great example of this is our use of cleaning robots - or ‘cobots', which support our teams in delivering some of their more laborious and time-consuming tasks.

Most commercially developed cobots focus on floor cleaning, and with this solution looking after the bulk of that type of work, it frees our team up to prioritise tasks that require their greater dexterity and skill. These autonomous machines can be a really valuable addition.

Another area where we are doing extensive work is in the use of sensors in client buildings - these gather data that can support a demand-driven approach to cleaning rather than a more traditional rota. That also helps clients to better understand patterns in building usage.

What we have found on some sites, however, for example with sensors monitoring traffic in washrooms, is that much of it is about common sense. For instance we know from experience there will be high levels of traffic in schools or stadiums at very specific times so we question whether there is justification for having more technology involved.

In many cases though, using sensors can help us to focus on the areas that need work so staff don't have to waste time cleaning unnecessarily, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient service for clients.

We are now finding QR codes really popular - our team can simply scan them to see the areas of a room to be cleaned. Of course this does sometimes raise another issue with clients, as they have to be stuck to the walls.

While I recognise that we want to implement the latest technology across services, it is only through collaboration and input from our frontline teams this is made possible. The interaction between people and technology is vital.

How do our teams respond? We must always manage change carefully of course and we recently surveyed frontline teams at one of our client sites to ask their opinion on the new tech we're introducing. We had an overwhelmingly positive reaction because ultimately all our people are keen to embrace technology if it will make their life easier. Naturally we must have patience with those who find the transition more challenging, we try to bring them along with us at their pace.

Hand in hand with technological innovation within the business is our focus on sustainability, specifically reducing our carbon footprint. New technology helps us to work towards a more demand-driven approach to service provision, which in turn contributes to a reduction in the use of energy, water and chemicals.

For me it's genuinely exciting to be part of this transition to smarter ways of working. Our teams of local and global cleaning experts are continually collaborating to create solutions underpinned by science and operational experience. I'm proud of the positive difference our frontline teams make every day, and I look forward to the data-driven cleaning of the future.

Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited