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Even as economies are picking up world wide, it is believed the hiring of new workers and a decrease in the unemployment rate will trail far behind other improvements in the economy. This means employers are looking for as many ways as possible to improve worker productivity among the still-employed.

And sure enough, worker productivity in the United States has been surging. In late December of last year, the US Commerce Department reported that worker productivity was rising at an annual rate of 8.1%, based on the July- September (2009) period. This is the biggest jump since 2003 and has helped many companies improve their profits and economic outlooks. They must find ways to get the most out of the staff they have. And increasing worker productivity can be especially challenging when it comes to restroom cleaning. As the “complaint centres” of most facilities, restrooms are often the last place administrators want custodial workers to speed up their work or, worse, cut corners. Fortunately, there are ways to improve worker productivity in restrooms and also ensure they are cleaned thoroughly, hygienically and fast.

The Multitasking Dilemma

Some studies have reported that when people multitask, they are often less productive and the quality of their work suffers. Further, personal safety may be jeopardised. Likely the worst and most dangerous example of this is when people drive and text message at the same time.

However, the reality of today’s world is that many people have to multitask and – depending on the tasks – have learned to do so relatively well. This includes cleaning professionals, who have been assisted by cleaning products and equipment that perform multiple tasks. For example, multisurface restroom-cleaning chemicals are available that can help workers clean multiple fixtures, counters, and mirrors as well as metal areas without changing products or sprayers. And electrostatic dust cloths and dusters that help attract and trap dust can reduce high- and low-dusting times.

“These seem like small items, but for every step they save, worker productivity is improved,” says Mike Sawchuk, Vice President and General Manager of Enviro-Solutions, a leading manufacturer of green cleaning products. “And it means fewer chemicals, sprayers, and other cleaning tools are needed or must be refilled; fewer items must be restocked in janitorial closets or placed on janitorial carts; and typically, less training is necessary. These are all time savers.

The Big Time Savers

However, the time savers that could make the biggest impact on worker productivity involve much more than multitasking cleaning chemicals or cleaning cloths. According to Peter Sheldon, vice president of operations for Coverall, a leading janitorial franchise, the real savings come when facility service providers turn to technologies that automate cleaning tasks. This is especially true when it comes to restroom cleaning because so many cleaning professionals use procedures that have changed little in decades. Sheldon has also moved his company and franchisees away from conventional restroom-cleaning methods mops, buckets, sprayers, cleaning cloths to spray-and-vac cleaning systems. These machines automate the cleaning process by first applying a chemical solution to surfaces and fixtures to be cleaned, rinsing the same areas, and then removing the solution with a built-in wet/vac system.

Lesson Learned, the Hard Way

Clearly, for those who have lost their jobs and businesses that have been forced to shutter their doors, this recession has been bad news. But some good always comes out of a recession. For one, cleaning companies have been forced to learn how to improve worker productivity.

Dawn Shoemaker is a researcher and
writer for the professional building and cleaning industries

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