Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Reducing Building Workloads

September 19, 2010


How do I reduce the workload in my building?


Every manager''s dream is to have self-directed work teams that produce quality results in record-breaking times.

But, that doesn''t happen overnight. Significant effort goes into process improvement, engineering of cleaning flow systems and training crews to master diagnostic skills.

A well-conceived plan must include detailed improvements for staff, equipment, supplies, standards and training systems.

Here are some suggestions to ease worker overload:

  • Reduce soil input. Determination of soil origins is required to develop counter-measures. For example, could extra matting reduce excessive soiling? The operative is analysis, detection and prevention.

  • Critically analyze each cleaning task. What would happen if a particular task was eliminated? Just because entry areas may require a carpet pre-scrub prior to extraction does not mean all areas require a pre-scrub.

  • Apply value engineering. How effective is each step of the task in producing the desired result? Try to eliminate steps without diminishing quality. Review non-critical surfaces to determine if an inspection and touch up could periodically replace a deep cleaning.

  • Appraise soil intensity. Staff should automatically evaluate all cleaning demands. If soil loads are light, then a light cleaning procedure will apply. This might include the chemical mixture, amount of solution applied and the number of cleaning passes — or weight or aggression levels. And, the opposite is also true for heavy soil.

  • Remove distractions. Cleaning staff should be sheltered from unnecessary interruptions. A supervisor could prepare a list of tomorrow''s job assignments and share them with a worker just as he or she finishes their break or before leaving for the day.

  • Establish sequential workflows. Map out the most direct flow pattern to clean each department. Certain tasks must be performed in a distinct order, such as pre-spray and spot removal of gum and tar prior to carpet extraction.

  • Plan ahead. Constantly recall the next required duties. Consider all the possibilities, demands and needs that could cause delays or backtracking. Use project supply lists to confirm all potentially required items are available.

  • Streamline supply access. Organize supply closets to reduce clutter, eliminate restrictions and reduce supply search times. Pre-position items to facilitate a quick grab-and-run. Organize supplies so it is difficult to return them to the wrong place.

  • Eliminate backtracking. Train workers to picture in their mind the required sequences for each cleaning task. Then, teach them to rehearse the process to ensure they have equipment and supplies to accomplish each step.

  • Remove cleaning restraints. Create innovative safeguards to reduce workmanship flaws. Engineer the selection of cleaning supplies so it is almost impossible to make wrong choices. Test and evaluate all cleaning procedures for effectiveness and efficiency.

  • Implement work simplification. Consider performing tasks in parallel. For example, after emptying the trash can, begin to walk back to return it while pulling Post-It notes from the inside of the trash liner. Speed up non-essential jobs and implement motion economy principles.

  • Accelerate skill proficiency. Diagnostic skills help technicians identify potential failure points and understand how to correct them.

  • Use self-inspection checklists. Workers should constantly monitor cleaning results and strive for zero omissions and defects.

  • Improve training systems. Offer training drills so fast decisions and automatic reactions become commonplace. Use up-to-date training visuals to supercharge your training program.

  • Enhance management skills. Workers should be empowered to make appropriate decisions.

Professional cleaning coaches understand the need to improve worker diagnostic skills.

Since competency can be taught, don''t give up until excellence has been achieved.

First-class executives develop first-class teams.

The International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN) is a non-profit association comprised of industry consultants with a wide range of expertise in building management, indoor environmental and service disciplines. This network provides free janitorial and building maintenance consultation service to the industry through the Cleaning Management Institute®.