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Cleanliness and safety in state of emergency

New innovations in cleaning do not usually get too much hype or social media visibility. In March 2020, however, the spotlight hit cleaning services with unprecedented force due to the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, the methods of cleaning and the safety provided by it began to interest everyone. The term “enhanced cleaning” came up everywhere.

We celebrate ”Thank the Cleaner” day on Monday 7th December 2020. Thank you, cleaners, for keeping our premises clean!

We provide Technopolis cleaning services in six countries. Countries have faced the coronavirus pandemic in different ways depending on how the disease has progressed in different countries and regions. On Technopolis’ campuses, however, customer behavior has been corresponding: customers started to work remotely, either on a large scale or infrequently. Restaurants were closing down and face-to-face meetings were mainly cancelled.

On the other hand, the demand for cleaning services didn’t collapse. We service people were in for a lesson: how to build brand new operating models in a situation where no one has been before?

The surprises we faced at the start of the year reminded us that if you want to do something steadily and well, you should have the experience – or the time for it. Good decisions can be made faster when you have solid experience. Without experience, there should be enough time to build a good business model. As there was no experience of a pandemic such as the COVID-19, and decisions had to be made fast, all sorts of beginner errors emerged. Technopolis’ partner and concept models truly showed their strength in the situation.

The power of partnerships and concepts

Our cleaning service providers have the latest professional expertise. Thus, they were able to apply the operating models that had been found to be fit and widely used to Technopolis’ campuses. Our partners (ISS Services in Finland and Norway, Grandhaus in Estonia, Vitaresta in Lithuania, SOL in Russia and Sodexo in Sweden), were able to quickly start the enhanced cleaning in public spaces. Enhanced cleaning focuses on surfaces that are frequently in use, such as door handles and table tops.

To share and ensure best practices in all units, is the core of Technopolis concept model. There is a lot of variety in local practices of everyday life, but in the face of the unknown, common processes became extremely valuable. Everyone wanted to consult each other of the best solutions and apply them in their own unit. I received more questions and inquiries about common guidelines than ever before and in seeking answers to these, the professionalism of our partners provided a strong backbone.

As an example, we had a long discussion about remote controls in the meeting rooms. We wondered how often and in what way should the meeting rooms be cleaned when people started to have more face-to-face meetings again. Electronic devices are typically left out of the maintenance cleaning, because of moisture damages. Then again, the remote control is used in every meeting – should it be disinfected after every use and if it should, how? Should a box of cleaning wipes be left next to the remote control with a sign to instruct customers to wipe the remote? Or should meeting participants be given a big box of disposable gloves? In the end we asked IT department how electronical devices should be disinfected.

Hand sanitizer demonstration in the parking lot

The demand for face masks and hand sanitizers experienced a big peak during the spring, and all kinds of new entrepreneurs hit the market. These items were at first purchased from where they could be found, but always at a reasonable price. I, for example, had one demonstration of a hand sanitizer model in a parking lot at a nearby grocery store – since the work was done mostly remotely, there was no need to meet the sales people directly at the campus.

In the future, we need to create best practices regarding the hand sanitizers; Sanitizer splashes harm surfaces at campus premises. What kind of hand sanitizer units are the easiest to maintain and which design looks best? The constant use of hand sanitizers is here to stay, and we want to be at the forefront in creating best practices for it.

Sales and purchases

In this business, sales and cost development interests everyone. Our Cleaning Services didn’t suffer as a whole although there was a slight dip, especially in those units that were hit hard by the Covid-19 and where country-specific contract models allowed customers to terminate the contract quickly. Growth was seen especially in the sales of enhanced cleaning services for customer premises. A good rule of thumb is, that if the work place is used by at least half of the normal crowd, it’s good to start the enhanced cleaning.

There have been no easy savings on purchasing cleaning, as cleaning simply cannot be interrupted, even if the number of customers is substantially lower, unless the space is completely taken out of service. Toilets need cleaning, no matter if it is one or one hundred using the toilets. Minor savings were found by re-organizing the work. If i.e. some meeting rooms were without users for longer periods of time, there was no need to clean them too often. However, it is key for Technopolis to keep the premises clean, and hence it is more important for us to get our customers back safely, than it is to unnecessarily compromise the quality of cleaning.

During the rest of the year, we have also had time to think about future development needs. How can Technopolis take better account of cleanliness in the future, for example in the choice of materials for new constructions and renovations?

Thank the cleaner

Safe work is especially important in those jobs that cannot be done remotely. Cleaners working on our campuses arrive on site every day, often using public transportation. For the sake of common security, it is important that everyone follows the instructions given by the local healthy authorities.

In many industries, employment has fallen at a tremendous rate this year, and this has led to vast subsistence problems. But there definitely is work set out for the cleaners on Technopolis campuses. Big thank yous to all the cleaners for taking such good care of the cleanliness!

The National Cleanliness Day is organized by SSTL Puhtausala ry. Read more (in Finnish only) at: https://puhtausala.fi/tapahtumat/koulutuskalenteri/puhtauspaiva-2020

Salla Brunou

Salla Brunou is an expert in B2B sales and service business. She works as a Concept Manager for campus services and cleaning services at Technopolis.