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Working the night shift is killer – literally. A string of studies have shown a link between late-shift work and increased cancer risk, so it’s no surprise when a housekeeping manager can’t find enough quality workers to form a nighttime cleaning crew. Even in tough economic times, working nights is the option of last resort for most employees.

While janitorial work has traditionally been done after business hours, a growing number in the industry are thinking outside the box and switching to daytime cleaning. Advocates of day cleaning claim the method has numerous benefits.

For instance, it is more cost efficient. Cleaning during the day is 15 to 25% less costly than cleaning at night. Labor savings can be 5 to 10%, thanks to the elimination of day porter positions and the increased efficiency of workers who are watched more closely. Daytime cleaning can also net 10 to 15% in energy savings when lights are turned off at night. Day cleaning can also result in lower turnover rates. Day shifts attract a larger, more enthusiastic crop of workers who aren’t willing to work nights (retirees and stay-at-home parents, for example). Offering daytime shifts makes it easier to find employees who enjoy their work and are likely to stick around. Housekeeping managers know that low turnover is good for the budget because it saves on recruitment and training costs.

Daytime work also generates fewer complaints. Working during the day creates a bond between janitor and building occupant because the two parties see each other often and perhaps even know each other’s names. If an occupant has a cleaning issue, he’s apt to go to the janitor for help, rather than calling the housekeeping manager to complain. He’s also less likely to accuse the janitor of theft, which becomes less probable if the janitor lacks access and anonymity.

Daytime cleaning isn’t simply nighttime cleaning done during the day. It requires several changes, starting with the equipment and chemicals used. Noise isn’t a problem at night when no one but the janitor is in the building. During the day, however, a loud vacuum can disrupt business. Battery-powered machines, which are now flooding the industry, can keep a janitor’s decibel level under 68, which is also the average noise level in an office building. Battery equipment also eliminates trip hazards and improves safety. There can be savings if departments choose more efficient machines, such as wide-area, ride-on or cart-based vacuums with hoses that allow for quick cubicle cleaning.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is another concern with day cleaning. To reduce contaminants floating in the air and upsetting workers in the area, janitors should not use dust mops or hand-held dusters. Instead, hard-surfaces should be vacuumed or cleaned with microfiber mops or wipes.

Chemical choices also affect IAQ. Microfiber can reduce chemical usage but it is important to go a step further and choose low-odor, no-VOC products. This is an easy task thanks to the recent movement toward environmentally preferable purchasing. Whenever possible, the safest bet is to use only neutral cleaners and water.

New Approach

Even more important to the success of daytime cleaning is updating how cleaning is performed. At night, janitors have the run of a building but during the day, they can’t interfere with business operations. For day cleaning to work, planning is everything.

A housekeeping manager moving from night to daytime cleaning must schedule every task like clockwork. Cleaning cannot interrupt building occupants and janitors must be kept busy. In a school, for example, classroom cleaning might be scheduled for the lunch period while hallways are swept with a low-decibel vacuum during classes.

To make it all work, some tasks may need to be performed before or after business hours (calling it daytime cleaning is a bit of a misnomer). For example, work that requires an area to be closed off for a length of time, such as stripping and refinishing floors, is probably best performed after building occupants leave.

Attitude Adjustment

Daytime cleaning also requires personnel adjustments beyond a shift change. Unlike night cleaning, when janitors are invisible to the building’s occupants, day cleaning puts cleaning crews on display. While housekeeping managers can provide their crews with clean uniforms and tidy carts, the may not always be able to provide pleasing personalities or communication skills. How the cleaning staff speak with occupants makes all the difference in the success of a cleaning programme.

Before jumping on the day cleaning bandwagon, a manager needs to make an honest self-assessment. Are employees right for daytime cleaning and if not, is management willing and able to find workers who are? Is the system sophisticated enough to handle the organization required for daytime cleaning?

Source: Housekeeping Solutions

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