[box type=”shadow” ]“Why Housekeeping?”, a question I was asked very often when I selected this as my specialization subject during my final semester of Hotel Management. “What do you do and learn in housekeeping? Clean toilets and mop?” Nousheen Rajqotwala, an exstudent, shares with Clean India Journal her perception of housekeeping as an ideal career.[/box]
It is still understandable when people from outside the hospitality industry have this perspective but when your own classmates react this way, something was not alright. The students who specialized in housekeeping were made fun of and looked down upon. But why?
There are some Hotel Management colleges that use cleaning toilets, cleaning the glass, etc as punishments for students, so it’s obvious that a student is going to refrain from housekeeping. This behaviour and this perspective of housekeeping being a “dirty” subject has always resulted in the lowest number of students taking this subject. According to me, that’s a shame, because I enjoyed my specialization and have never regretted it.
Of course, housekeeping is about cleaning and maintenance, but is it ALL that? It takes a brilliant person to be an Executive Housekeeper! It takes a lot of planning, organizing of manpower, allocating duties and responsibilities, making arrangements for any kind of shortages, budgeting, and having a team that is trained to handle all kinds of situations and queries. A guest needs to be in a comfortable and clean environment without even noticing or feeling that housekeeping is being done around him. The area should be 100% perfect at all times. This involves maintaining checklists, regular rounds, making sure correct procedures are being used, SOPs being followed, no shortcuts and so on. Keeping your clients and guests happy cannot be compromised. At the same time managing your people, the staff, keeping them motivated to work and providing them with a healthy environment are also important.
The guests make their first impression about the hotel as they enter it. Ever wondered who is responsible for that elaborate flower arrangement or those chic curtains or that spotless window or even that painting you couldn’t help but admire in the lobby of a hotel? Well, the hands of housekeeping staff are behind these. They create a home away from home for the guests with a touch of luxury, keeping their comfort in mind. A hotel cannot look good without good housekeeping. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do.
People-friendliness is also important, since the aim is to make every guest feel special. You need to be able to feel the pulse of your guests and gauge what they would need intuitively. You need to go that extra mile and not just stick to what is expected of you. Creativity is a plus, be it deciding the flower arrangement, the decor of the lounge area, or the upholstery.
Housekeeping also includes keeping work areas neat and orderly, maintaining halls and floors free of slip and trip hazards and removing of waste materials (e.g., paper, cardboard) and other fire hazards from work areas. It also requires paying attention to important details such as the layout of the entire workplace, aisle marking, the adequacy of storage facilities and maintenance. Good housekeeping is also a basic part of accident and fire prevention. All of this needs an eye for detail, an important quality of a housekeeper that not everyone has. It starts from the carefully done layout of the place, selection and usage of lighting to the cleanliness, type of materials used and maintenance.
Housekeeping requires so much precision and knowledge. For example, there are so many chemicals, agents that can only be used on specific surfaces. You cannot use your strong detergents on an Italian marble floor. Hence a housekeeper needs to have all the information of what is used where as he/she does not get a second chance, if something goes wrong and is ruined. There is no going back.
Effective housekeeping results in: Reduced handling to ease the flow of materials; Lower worker exposures to hazardous substances (e.g. dusts, vapors); Better control of tools and materials, including inventory and supplies; Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health; More effective use of space; Reduced property damage by improving preventive maintenance; Improved morale; Improved productivity (tools and materials will be easy to find); and so much more to make your surroundings just perfect and comfortable to be in.
Housekeeping has multiple segments like laundry, production and supply of cleaning materials and agents, facility management, training, etc. The scope unlimited and there is so much you can do in this field.
So, housekeeping is much more than just cleaning toilets and mopping the floor. This is my view on housekeeping and so it was my selection of specialization because I know the importance and cannot imagine a world or even few hours without housekeeping not being there. Nobody would stay in a hotel or place where housekeeping is not done regularly and hygiene is not maintained.
[box type=”shadow” ]The subject of housekeeping should be given more importance. Growth in housekeeping is performance-based and chances of a new trainee heading the department in a few years is much higher compared to what is possible in others. We need to change our mindsets and it should definitely start from our colleges and more students should be encouraged to take housekeeping![/box]