Adjusting for Seasonal Schedules

Workloading to accommodate flexible foot traffic

Adjusting for Seasonal Schedules

Does your organization need to revisit your workloading plan based on summer impact fluctuations? If your buildings experience a change in use patterns throughout the year, you may need to revise your cleaning strategy. Updating your workloading plan on a seasonal basis is the place to start.

In higher education facilities, K–12 schools, and other seasonally impacted businesses, fluctuations in schedules, and therefore human traffic patterns, dictate the use and occupancy of campus buildings throughout the year. Such changes mean that workloading must adapt to reflect the real-life needs of the buildings and their occupants.

Facility management professionals in educational institutions once relied on students vacating the buildings for a long summer break. The decrease in class schedules and campus occupants meant that it was time for deep cleaning and project work to begin. Refinishing floors, cleaning student areas, and other projects that stacked up during times of deferred maintenance could be scheduled for the summer months when the campus would otherwise be a ghost town.

But times have changed. Operations of seasonal campuses have innovated to make room for a growing number of summertime activities to fill otherwise empty buildings, such as housing, dining, athletic, and academic facilities. Stroll through a campus of higher learning in the summertime today and you’ll see summer campers of various ages, conference attendees, athletes in training, and even summer school students. With rapidly growing campuses, cleaning organizations need to create a workloading plan to accommodate a continuing effort toward year-long occupation. Leaders of cleaning organizations must also innovate to keep their buildings clean and safe for the influx of users.

Challenge of Summer Schedules

There’s no other way to put it: Your normal, daily plan for cleaning doesn’t work anymore. The workloading you did during the academic calendar may leave you constantly scrambling. Keeping up with fluctuating schedules and building usage can result in never reaching the kinds of outcomes and standards your organization expects. Something that is normally simple becomes really complicated. Failing to address the changes mean that you don’t meet standards for cleaning the right things, in the right way, for the right kind of people.

Users of a given space will adapt how they use that area depending on who they are and their reasons for using it. Their soil, weight of impact, and cleaning needs are all different and must be taken into consideration to workload properly.

For instance, in residence halls during the school year, you have a steady flow of students walking into the hall lobbies and restrooms, on to their respective dining spots, off to classes, and then back to their rooms. The soil load is steady and predictable and can be cared for with daily cleaning. However, if a football team comes to campus for summer training, there may be an entire pack of people tracking in mud and soil from the fields all at once. Their wear pattern may be heavy with an intense soil load because of their specific daily activities. This will require an alteration of the type of cleaning that is typically done during the school year, which as a result, will change cleaning times and workflow of custodians.

Your workloading plan may typically include deep cleaning dorm rooms in residence halls each time a student moves out. But during the summer, those same rooms may be occupied by a different person every five to seven days (depending on the summer camp schedule), requiring more frequent deep cleaning. During those times, you may find your campus custodians needing to work as if they were suddenly transported to the hospitality sector.

Solutions to Summertime Workloading

Static workloading means that management and the custodians are constantly attempting to adjust to real-life scenarios that render their original workloading plan useless. However, cleaning is dynamic and the approach needs to be adjustable based on last-minute schedule changes. As one part of the facilities operations process, cleaning organizations need to be able to adapt to forces outside of their control like maintenance, painting, pest control, moving, and construction. By implementing dynamic workloading—a type of staffing that allows for the implementation of just-in-time changes with the use of a lean workforce—organizations can save labor costs while creating better outcomes in cleanliness.

Dynamic workloading allows custodians to quickly adjust what, where, and how they clean a space depending on soil load and use. This ability to remain nimble and flexible, while also being able to track completed work, ultimately changes the efficiency of the work. Additionally, when supervisors can predict the quality of their outcomes due to accurate workloading, they can better anticipate staffing needs into the future and eliminate any overstaffing they may count on to adjust for project cleaning and absenteeism.

Benefits of Dynamic Workloading

Paying attention to an organization’s specific needs for different seasons can help to prevent expensive emergency deep cleaning during the summer. By the time summer arrives, administrators have already made the decision to make changes in the workloading schedule.

Custodial operations have a wonderful opportunity to adapt to these changes to meet the needs of their customers all year round. Dynamic workloading takes your cleaning operation to the next level by positively impacting service, heightening efficiency, and creating happy customers who experience a cleaner environment.

Posted On May 29, 2018

Tim Poskin

Tim Poskin, President of Cleaning Management Concepts

Tim Poskin is founder and systems integrator of ISSA’s Cleaning Change Solutions™ Consulting and serves as the executive director of the ISSA Workloading and Benchmarking Committee. Poskin may be reached at

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