New working methods affect Dutch cleaning operations

25th of October 2011
New working methods affect Dutch cleaning operations

ECJ correspondent Anton Duisterwinkel reports on ‘The New World of Work’ in the Netherlands and the effect it can have on cleaning operations.

The New World of Work is rapidly becoming popular for office workers in the Netherlands. Working at the time and place that is most convenient for the worker is one of the central themes in the New World of Work. Forced by traffic jams and aided by modern technology that allows staff to log-in at the office from any place in the world, people increasingly work at home. And when they go the office, they go into meetings very often or sit at a 'flexible' space, using a docking station for their laptop.

They do not have their own office space or desk, as this would be empty for more than half the time anyway. Their data, protocols and knowledge are no longer available on paper, but fully accessible on the internal web of their employer. And their personal ‘stuff’ sits in a suitcase or trolley.

Profound effect

Both employers and employees should benefit from the New World of Work, as it uses less office space, saves travelling time and cost and allows people to do at least part of their job at convenient times. Clearly, some disadvantages and risks can also be found, such as reduced social coherence and mix-up of work and private matters. Yet almost half of Dutch companies are considering The New World of Work and already a quarter are in the process of or have already been implementing (elements of) it.

This can have a profound effect of office cleaning. To start with, there is much less office to be cleaned and the facility manager will expect the office cleaning cost to reduce. But for several reasons, this is not as obvious as it seems. Staff tend to leave the flex spaces in a bigger mess than they would do with their own desks, where they would have to return. Yet when they arrive at a flex space, they want it to be cleaner than their own desk. Who would want to work in another person’s junk? Therefore cleaning the flex spaces may actually take more time.

No daytime cleaning

Also, it is necessary to clean in the evening. This applies for the flex space and even more so for the meetings rooms, as people in a meeting usually do not want to be disturbed by the cleaners. Wages are higher than for daytime cleaning, again adding to cleaning cost. Moreover, greater flexibility may be needed, as the use of flex spaces and meeting rooms can vary considerably from day to day.

Yet, the New World of Work may also prove to be an opportunity for cleaning companies, as they can more easily show their added value in this situation. In conclusion, the New World of Work will also lead to a New World of Cleaning Work. Even so, the cleaner will still have to travel to the office every day!


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