Cleaning tasks and workloads are seasonal in nature in that certain tasks are performed with more frequency at particular times of the year.
In addition to minding the natural increase of ice melt residue and sand used to prevent slip-and-fall incidents in wintertime, custodial professionals have the added burden of cleaning up after holiday parties and addressing numerous other things related to such festivities.
What has become known as the "holiday season" is the period of several weeks encompassing Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and the New Year — and Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us, which gained popularity thanks to the now infamous Seinfeld episode, "The Strike."
Often, educational facilities, office buildings and various other commercial locations will decorate their indoor spaces with figurines, nativity scenes, Christmas trees — or Festivus poles — and other celebratory decorum.
But, these decorations create additional workloads because custodial professionals — remember, we stewards of public health never take a break — need to clean around them and use special techniques to avoid damage to scenery and surfaces.
Things such as garland and tinsel on Christmas trees and glitter on wreaths require extra attention from cleaning and maintenance staffs when the accoutrement find their way onto floors and carpets before being tracked throughout a facility.
Anyone who has ever encountered a molting Thanksgiving turkey decoration or an ornate menorah that is shedding its glitter knows how frustrating a few faux feathers or speckles of shiny metallic squares can be on an otherwise clean surface.
Not Everything That Glimmers Is Gold
Besides spending extra time to remove these additional soils, custodial professionals are commissioned to clean up after celebrations.
Removing food and drink spills from carpeting and hard surface floors is part of the day-to-day cleaning routine, but the holiday season increases the prevalence of such incidents.
Plus, with staffs shrinking due to attrition and layoffs, already overzealous cleaning loads become more difficult to keep up with when unforeseen situations arise.
Throwing another wrench into the plan, the holiday season is often a time when project cleaning tasks are performed.
Because some individuals take extended periods off from work to spend with friends and family and many educational facilities close for weeks on end, things such as stripping and refinishing hard surface floors and cleaning carpets via hot water extraction are performed in this short window of time.
With the decreased number of building occupants — even the complete vacancy of a building in some situations — project cleaning tasks are more easily performed, as there are fewer folks to work around.
But, when you compile all of the necessary cleaning and maintenance tasks of the holiday season — general workloads, the constant cleaning of decorations and project tasks — the most wonderful time of the year can be rather strenuous to the often overlooked and largely unsung heroes of commercial built environments.
What Say You?
Does the above rant ring true for you and your coworkers or is my viewpoint too far removed from reality?
What are some of the unique things that need to be addressed in your facilities during the holiday season?
Are decorations allowed in your buildings or has the political correctness movement squashed any semblance of celebration?
Share your thoughts in a comment below or send me a Letter to the Editor because inquiring minds want to know.