Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Flipping the Switch

September 19, 2010

How often have you walked into a building during normal business hours and not spotted a single cleaning worker?

Probably pretty often, considering that many cleaning crews don''t start their shifts until most of the occupants have left the building for the day.

Building owners and facility managers often opt for cleaning crews to clean buildings at night to keep cleaners out of sight and out of the way of building occupants and visitors.

However, some owners and managers are realizing the benefits of Day Cleaning and are flipping the switch from night to a more productive Day Cleaning operation.

Why switch?
There are many reasons why more and more facility managers, cleaning contractors and in-house facility directors are standing behind Day Cleaning. Consider the following:

  • Cost savings. For most facilities, switching to Day Cleaning results in savings of 8 percent to 10 percent. The savings begin with the elimination of duplicate services provided by day porters and day matrons, and they are compounded by lower employee turnover, the need for less direct supervision, and the use of high-productivity equipment and processes.

    Further cost savings result from keeping lights turned off at night. Some facilities have saved as much as $100,000 a year in electricity costs per building.

  • Less employee turnover and easier recruitment. Studies have shown that people overwhelmingly prefer day shifts because they have easier access to transportation, better daycare options and the ability to spend their evenings with their families.

    Day shifts are particularly attractive to semi-retired and retired workers who have security and vision issues after dark.

  • Increase in worker productivity. Day Cleaning can be more productive than night cleaning, especially when workers are equipped with the right tools.

    High-productivity equipment, such as walk-behind or rider sweepers and battery-powered lightweight floor and carpet sweepers are used daily to clean main and secondary corridors quickly. Low-decibel vacuums are used weekly to clean offices and cubicles.

    Staffing can also be streamlined. The day porter and/or day matron who stocks the restrooms is replaced by restroom specialists who stock but also clean the restrooms. The need for more supervision is reduced because cleaning takes place in an occupied environment. Workers are not as tempted to take extra or extended breaks.

    Some proponents of Day Cleaning report that the presence of cleaning workers in the buildings fosters a feeling of community responsibility for the cleanliness of the facility.

    For example, occupants who see rest-rooms cleaned will keep the area clean by wiping the countertops after washing hands and making sure their used towels get in the waste containers.

  • New developments in technology make Day Cleaning less disruptive. The use of low-decibel vacuums, microfiber cloths and gender-specific cleaners help prevent disruptions and hazards.

    More disruptive activities such as office vacuuming and restroom floor cleaning are performed before the building opens or after it has closed.

Is Day Cleaning a fit for your facility?
Now that you know the positive aspects of Day Cleaning, you should make sure the pros of such a program outweigh the cons (if there are any) when it comes to the best way to clean your facility.

In general, Day Cleaning has been most successful in single-tenant owned buildings, K-12 schools, universities, multi-tenant office buildings, hospitals, 24/7 call centers and factories.

There are facilities where Day Cleaning would not be the best scenario.

In addition to considering the type of facility you clean, think about what goes on in and around your buildings.

When contemplating the feasibility of Day Cleaning, General Motors officials, for example, developed a checklist to determine whether or not Day Cleaning would be a success for their buildings.

One building in downtown Detroit has restrictive parking. This building was not considered for Day Cleaning because the parking area could not accommodate the existing building occupants and visitors during the day, let alone additional cleaning staff.

GM also found that manufacturing facilities with heavy vehicular traffic and areas requiring extensive wet cleaning work would not be good candidates for Day Cleaning.

The key to determining whether or not your facility can be cleaned during the day is to know the facility and operations intimately.

Consider the following:

  1. The amount of foot traffic
  2. The type of machinery housed in the facility
  3. The equipment (desks, chairs, conference rooms) used by the occupants
  4. The events that take place in each building.

Then simply ask if a Day Cleaning program would conflict with people, activities or other running equipment?

A switch in thinking
Once you have made the decision to implement Day Cleaning, the next step is to clear your mind of the old ways of cleaning. Your mind must be open to new ideas, systems, schedules, products and equipment.

If you have an in-house operation, you must ignore how your night cleaning crew has been working, step back and build your Day Cleaning program from scratch.

Think about how you will make Day Cleaning work — not why Day Cleaning would not work.

Research the facility and all cleaning components. As already discussed, an intimate knowledge of the facility and the day-to-day operations is critical.

Determine what type of cleaning tasks can be conducted at each time of day to keep intrusions to a minimum.

Research equipment, chemicals and processes to determine what would be best for the facility to enhance health, sustainability and productivity.

The more you research, the more prepared you will be when it comes time to communicate the program concept first to upper management for approval and support, and then to the occupants of the building.

Having support from upper management and occupants will help you achieve the goals and expectations of the program.

Another key element is proper planning and organization. A work loading software program will help you best plan and organize the program and any changes you make once the program is in place.

Making the transition
After getting management approval and occupant support, the next step is to develop a scope of work for the Day Cleaning program.

It is important to keep upper management involved in this step to support the process and to achieve successful implementation.

Use a computer work loading program to help you determine the scope of work, including labor hour requirements and job descriptions for employees.

Develop a communications plan to inform and educate all occupants of the building on the Day Cleaning program, beginning about eight weeks prior to full implementation, increasing the frequency of communication with occupants as the transition date approaches.

Select the appropriate chemical systems, cleaning equipment, and train the staff on best practices for Day Cleaning.

Plan everything thoroughly and stick to your plan.

One final tip: When transitioning from cleaning at night to Day Cleaning, it often works best to stop night cleaning on a Friday night and begin Day Cleaning on the following Monday. This allows you to use the weekend for orientation and proper closet preparation.

Achieving success
Flipping the switch from cleaning at night to Day Cleaning can successfully be accomplished through good planning and organization.

Properly done, the transition is seamless with building occupants only noticing a higher level of cleaning.

Successful transitions to Day Cleaning result in little interruption in productivity, higher quality cleaning and substantial cost savings.

Dave Frank is the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences, an independent third-party accreditation organization that establishes standards to improve the professional performance of the cleaning industry. He is a work-loading consultant and has been involved in the JanSan industry for more than 30 years. Frank is a member of and frequent speaker for ISSA, APPA, EPA and the U.S. Green Building Council. He can be reached at

Shine the spotlight on savings
10 ways Day Cleaning can save you money.
by Steve Spencer

Day Cleaning offers a number of ways to save money for the cleaning contractor and the end-user.

Some of the cost savings are readily recognized, while some are not so obvious.

At State Farm Insurance, we began transitioning to Day Cleaning six years ago and now have data on more than 26 large facilities totaling over 6 million square feet.

The cumulative savings for us as the end-user have been in the millions per year, but there also have been savings for the cleaning contractors.

Here are 10 cost-saving areas involved with Day Cleaning:

  1. The most readily recognized cost savings is the elimination of duplication of services. We used to contract for a day maid and a day porter to stock restrooms several times a day and to touch up break areas, in addition to the evening cleaning crew. With the transition to Day Cleaning, we no longer needed the maid and porter because we were actually cleaning the restrooms and break areas during the day. Depending on the area of the country, we saved $2,000 to $3,000 per month per person.
  2. The second obvious cost savings came in the area of supervision. Evening cleaning in our larger buildings required a project manager, day supervisor, night manager and at least one evening lead person to keep track of the crew. When transitioned to Day Cleaning, the contractors realized they needed only one supervisory person because there was only one day shift. Contact and communication with the customer took place during the work shift and, because of the presence of the customer in the building, the staff couldn''t stop and read a paper or be somewhere they didn''t belong. The reduction in supervisory staff saved us about $4,000 per month.
  3. The transition to Day Cleaning and the goal of little or no interruption to productivity of our employees forced a review of the productivity of the cleaning company. As an example, short windows of opportunity for tasks such as vacuuming main and secondary corridors required a more productive process. We subsequently purchased a riding sweeper (so we could take depreciation and provide maintenance) that could sweep 40,000 to 50,000 square feet per hour and save us six to eight hours of contract labor per day. The payback in the first year and subsequent annual cost savings were $15,000 to $20,000.
  4. Security-related costs savings due to Day Cleaning came from the reduction of theft and charges related to response to false alarms and problems setting alarms. We averaged eight theft calls per day at the first building we transitioned to Day Cleaning. Since the change, we haven t had a theft call there since.
  5. Day Cleaning has eliminated unnecessary fees for security mistakes.  Buildings that had no security after hours but had alarm systems that cleaning contractors had to turn off and re-set were prone to"errors" that would precipitate a visit by police or security companies, and a false-alarm fee.
  6. Day Cleaning has reduced our cleaning contractor''s employee turnover rate to 10 percent or less per year. This reduction saves us the cost of processing new employees through security and the cost of badges.
  7. With lower turnover, contractors don''t have to spend as much time and money on recruiting, hiring and processing new employees. They also don''t have to train and orient as many new employees to the facility. These are cost savings contractors can pass along in their bids.
  8. Now that cleaning is done during the day, the people who work in our buildings gain an awareness of the cleaning crew and an appreciation of the work performed by the cleaners. Employees actually see cleaning being done. In particular, they see restroom cleaning, and they have shown a greater appreciation for the cleaning work and the cleanliness of the building. This reduces soiling and rework.
  9. Day Cleaning is a perfect platform for the installation of cooperative cleaning. Cooperative cleaning at our facilities includes occupants transporting the waste from cubicles or offices to a collection site. This is not a daily requirement, except where food wastes are involved. In one building, the contractor went from emptying 1,200 wastebaskets to removing 22 collection stations each day. That gave us a cleaning cost savings of 25 percent, or $75,000 per year.
  10. The largest single cost savings is in energy. We have developed a lighting calculator that computes the number of fixtures, wattage per fixture, hours of night cleaning operation, and kilowatt hour rate to reveal potential lighting energy savings. The savings are generally about 10 percent of overall electricity costs.

The savings involved with Day Cleaning are impressive and assist in selling the program to management or customers, but there are benefits to which you can''t assign a dollar value.

Day Cleaning encourages the use of low-decibel equipment and chemicals that are safe for occupants.

Day Cleaning has also encouraged the use of highly effective cleaning materials and has forced us to design floor finishes that require less maintenance and less labor.

As a result, Day Cleaning has helped to improve the health of the occupants and enhanced the sustainability of our facilities.

Steve Spencer is a facilities specialist in cleaning and interior maintenance for State Farm Insurance Company. He coordinates and teaches an Interior Maintenance School and is responsible for all facility cleaning contract specifications for the company. Spencer is a nationally recognized author and speaker with more than 30 years of experience in the JanSan industry. He is a member of IFMA and serves on the End-User Advisory Council for Invista, National Floor Safety Institute Board and Buildings Magazine Advisory Board. He can be reached at

Ambassadors of cleaning
Day crews, building occupants share sense of pride.
by Allen P. Rathey

Ideally, Day Cleaning workers should be facility ambassadors characterized by crisp, clean uniforms, sparkling equipment and esprit de corps.

They should be integrated in a well thought-out, unobtrusive system reinforced by comprehensive training.

This lofty scenario is worth achieving since it can make a cleaning operation a valued, prominent and profitable partner to the customer.

Conversely, shining the Day Cleaning spotlight on poor practices, slovenly workers and antiquated equipment can ruin a professional reputation before you can say, “Day Cleaning has merit.”

With the right Day Cleaning program in place, however, four important things can happen:

  1. Cleaning workers earn respect as members of the daily building operations team.
  2. Building occupants or customers tidy up after themselves both spontaneously and by design (cooperative cleaning) because they respect the visible — and skillful — efforts expended, catch the “spirit of clean,” and appreciate (along with their management) the collective resources needed to properly maintain the facility.
  3. The building gets cleaner because it’s easier to see and remove dust, cobwebs and other contaminants during daylight hours.
  4. Pride of ownership increases and costs go down as janitors and customers cooperate to ensure their shared environment stays as clean as possible while conserving precious resources.

In the spotlight
How do you get — and stay — on the bright side of Day Cleaning?

First, remember that best practices in cleaning do not change because of the time of day.

Team Cleaning® principles and methods — based on the development of specialists — is one way to go when flipping the switch to Day Cleaning.

The emphasis in Team Cleaning®, day or night, is the same — simple, focused tasks work loaded systematically accomplishes more in less time, with greater health and safety, better results, and less disruption and energy expenditure.

Job cards are carried by team members. Their duties, schedule and estimated time for each task/function are listed, along with special instructions, such as which areas to vacuum during the day versus night.

These laminated cards guide employees, keep them on schedule and ensure they are “on task” at all times.

An army of one
In some cases, one person will complete all steps of the daytime Team Cleaning® process by performing each function in prescribed sequence based on schedules determined for the occupied building — often with the occupants’ help.

For example, cooperative Team Cleaning® engages office workers to leave their trash cans outside their cubicles or offices by a certain time for collection during the respective phase of daytime Team Cleaning®.

A Cleaning for Health program can also be encouraged through Day Cleaning, as occupants see the benefits of good cleaning practices and the improvement of indoor air quality.

Tent cards promoting the use of these healthier and more efficient cleaning methods can be placed in lunch rooms and other areas to create awareness of the methods involved in a Day Cleaning and Team Cleaning® scenario.

The adage, “Out of sight, out of mind,” need no longer apply to custodians.

Properly deployed, a cleaning staff can be building ambassadors, stewards of a healthy indoor environment, and visible agents for change.

The end result is enhanced custodian morale, pride and retention and greater customer satisfaction.

Allen P. Rathey is president of InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc., Boise, ID.

Day Cleaning’s most difficult task
The right equipment, approach can get the job done.
by Dennis Jurecki

Despite the growth of Day Cleaning, many cleaning managers are still apprehensive about incorporating their largest and most difficult job into daytime cleaning — floor care.

Floor care is one of the most important components of any cleaning program. A floor’s appearance can have a huge impact on one’s first impression of a building and its occupants.

But how do you attend to floor care during the day?

Despite the challenges that managers face when adding floor care to a Day Cleaning program, many will find the task is easier to implement than expected.

Not to mention, there are many benefits related to daytime floor care beyond cleanliness.

The floor care challenge
Daytime floor care is often tough to complete because the process presents obstacles for both cleaning staff and building occupants including:

  • Electrical cords trailing across floors and hallways to the floor machines can be hazardous to people moving from one area of the facility to another.
  • Cleaning staff must carefully maneuver machines around people, furniture and work areas.
  • Some floor machines are loud and distracting to occupants trying to work, customers trying to shop or patients trying to get well.

In response to these issues, cleaning manufacturers have introduced new machines that reduce these problems and make daytime floor cleaning easier.

Tackling the task
The first step in implementing floor care in your Day Cleaning program is communication.

Discuss any changes regarding cleaning with your staff, building management and building occupants.

Each audience needs to be aware of the changes and its role in the change in order to have a successful program.

Develop a plan that supports the building’s hours of operation and the type of activities that occur in the building. Make sure your cleaning staff is familiar with peak and slow business hours and which procedures are appropriate for each time of the day.

Building occupants need to know when cleaning staff will be working. Ask occupants to cooperate with cleaning schedules when necessary.

When preparing the cleaning schedule, consult a layout plan of the building and pay close attention to any high-traffic areas. Some tasks in those areas may have to be scheduled only during slow business hours.

Designed with Day Cleaning in mind
Finally, assess which equipment is most relevant to your Day Cleaning needs. Choose equipment that is not inconvenient or disturbing to building occupants and visitors.

To clean large spaces quickly, look for battery-powered floor-care machines. These cordless machines give workers more freedom to move throughout the building without having to stop and unplug equipment and battery-powered machines also eliminate the hazards associated with power cords.

If you have to clean a high-traffic area, select a scrubber/dryer that will dry the floors faster and make them safer to walk on more quickly.

To minimize noise and disturbance, select machines that offer quiet operation. Quiet machines allow cleaning staff to work without interrupting building occupants’ daily activities.

For smaller spaces and areas that contain many obstacles, such as desks and other furniture, select a compact scrubber/dryer. Smaller machines will be easier to maneuver and can boost productivity because workers will be able to move through areas faster and work comfortably for longer periods of time.

Dennis Jurecki is vice president of Cimex-USA, a floor-care equipment manufacturer. He can be reached at