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Operations / Management And Training
May 2014 Lets Talk Shop

Getting Everyone On The Same Page

Developing standards leads to more predictable results.

May 03, 2014
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Cleaning, when done properly, is a straightforward series of tasks and procedures repeated multiple times throughout the scheduled workday.

For operations to work efficiently, it’s important to standardize your cleaning procedures and get everyone on the same page.

Kareem had been with the school district for over 10 years but had only recently been working in facilities.

One evening, he stopped by the high school to check out the newly-purchased carpet extractor.

On the first floor, he passed the custodian’s break room where he saw one of the custodians reading a newspaper.

On the second floor, where the extractor was stored, he turned a corner and found another custodian just filling her mop bucket.

How was it that one custodian was able to finish his work almost an hour before the other?

Back at the office, he checked the cleaning areas for both of the workers.

Each had approximately 30,000 square feet of cleaning area with a similar number of classrooms, restrooms and hallways.

So the next week, Kareem decided to spend a couple of hours cleaning with each one to learn what made the difference.

What he learned was startling: Each custodian cleaned their areas differently, performing different tasks and procedures and even using different chemicals.

Standardizing Operations

Following the same procedures with the same equipment to accomplish the same task should take each cleaner approximately the same amount of time and produce very similar results.

Standardizing operations makes them more efficient and easier to evaluate.

But where do you start?

Chemicals

Relying on too many cleaning chemicals can confuse your staff and create serious health hazards.

Ninety percent of routine cleaning tasks require only three types of chemicals:

  • A neutral cleaner for floors and horizontal surfaces
  • A disinfectant to kill germs
  • A glass cleaner.

Peroxide cleaners can sometimes be substituted for the above cleaners.

While you will need other chemicals on hand for special jobs, they should not be used every day.

A dispensing system that automatically measures and mixes the proper amount of chemical is essential for preventing costly and dangerous mixing mistakes.

Processes

Standardize your processes by:

  • Area Types: This recognizes different cleaning requirements within the same buildings, such as offices, hallways and restrooms.
  • Cleaning Tasks: Each area type is then generally assigned between five and nine routine cleaning tasks.
  • Times and Frequencies: After determining the tasks, you can assign times and frequencies for each one. You can base these on national standards, such as ISSA or APPA, or perform a time study to reflect your specific cleaning procedures. Some times are based on the size of the area, while others are based on fixture count. Frequencies are determined by needs, priorities and available resources. When assigning times and frequencies, it is essential to take into account the specific equipment or tool being used.
  • Procedures: Procedure describes how cleaners perform their tasks. When determining procedures for each task, ask yourself these three questions:

- Do the procedures include components for safety, chemical use, equipment use and task efficiency?
- Can they be used and understood by everyone in the organization, including the cleaners?
- Can they be evaluated for compliance and effectiveness to determine future modifications?

The Results

A few months after standardizing operations and providing training on those standards for his cleaners, Kareem had to visit the high school again to check on some supplies.

This time, the break room was empty, and the custodians working upstairs and downstairs were at approximately the same point in the process.

What a difference it made getting everyone on the same page.

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