Cleaning in a time of coronavirus

28th of September 2020
Cleaning in a time of coronavirus

John Griep of VSR in the Netherlands on how the pandemic has impacted on the cleaning sector.

The coronavirus has caused hygiene to become more important than ever in some buildings, such as hospitals. While, in most other buildings, professional cleaning is often required less now that more people are working from home. This affects the cleaning quality and outcomes agreed between cleaning companies and their clients which were made in the pre-coronavirus era. How should we approach this? And where does the focus currently lie?

The coronavirus had only just broken out when we wrote our last column. The resulting lockdown was managed differently in different countries. The main similarity was that any unnecessary activity in buildings was undesirable. This meant office workers were required to work from home. While those working in shops and the hospitality industry were often unable to work at all. As a result, buildings became less dirty. (There was, however, a cleaning rage in Dutch houses, but that aside.)

No cleaning at all; less, or different cleaning in a building naturally affects agreements relating to effort and outcomes. Checking the cleaning quality achieved, previously established in a contract, is now of little use. And, inspectors cause unnecessary activity in a building and were (are) therefore unwelcome.

When applying cleaning inspection systems, we recommend using the actual performance as the basis. Regardless of whether this is a formal or, due to the coronavirus, informal agreement. In a new reality, inspections based on rules that are no longer relevant would be inappropriate.

In addition, now that lockdowns are gradually being eased (and sometimes re-tightened), it is important to judge the current situation. This may mean inspection requirements are tackled differently and that inventories need adapting, either temporarily or permanently. Most clients and cleaning companies have made such changes in their cleaning.

The coronavirus has also caused a change of focus. We see extra attention is being given to contact surfaces, such as door handles and taps. An increased demand for more frequent cleaning of such surfaces is likely.

There are also additional objects to clean following the introduction of transparent screens in the workplace. Such screens are necessary because the distance of 1.5 metres - a distance which, according to experts Covid-19 aerosols cannot survive - is not guaranteed in most work environments. We expect the use of plexiglass screens to continue for now.

A Tibetan monk once said: Everything is continuously changing. If you can cope with that, all is fine. Handling change without stress is therefore seen as the key to a happy life. As such, the coronavirus can be considered the ultimate test. After all, nothing is as it was before. And all the things we thought would never occur are actually happening.  The consequences for professional cleaning are just a small part of this global disruption. Small. But more important than ever.


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