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The Rise of Cleanwashing: Part II

When people are first introduced to Six Sigma, a program used by businesses for continuous improvement, one of the first things they’re asked to do is to draw a happy pig. Without any instruction, you can imagine the different types of drawings people create! After everyone shows each other their work and the variation in the drawings becomes apparent, they are then provided a set of instructions and asked to draw the pig again. This time, they find that the drawings look remarkably similar. The point of the exercise is to demonstrate how when a group of people have instruction, most will produce a consistent result. 

The McDonald’s empire was built on around consistency; consistency that was structured around the pillars of “quality, service, cleanliness and value.” Ray Kroc knew that when you’re looking for a consistent product, you need to standardize the products and the systems in place. In fact, he’s quoted as saying, “If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value, I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.” 

Standardized systems and products are what make a Big Mac in Des Moines, IA, taste the same as a Big Mac served in Kroc’s first restaurant in Des Plaines, IL.

Standardization is the hallmark of efficiency—just think about the ISO 9000 quality management and quality assurance standards. But for some reason, standards are lost when it comes to custodial departments. Organizations implement standardized processes throughout their customer service, warehouse, purchasing and human resource departments… but they neglect to think about how the custodial department could benefit from standardized processes.

How the Absence of Standards Can Result in Cleanwashing

In the first part of this series, we discussed the rise of “greenwashing” and how when the demand for sustainable products grew, suppliers marketed their products as good for the environment when they really weren’t. 

Similarly, there are a lot of cleaning companies out there that make claims that they know how to clean, but they often lack the knowledge, processes and systems to ensure a consistent level of cleanliness. They think that anyone can pick up a mop and clean. But when was the last time they changed the water and solution in the mop bucket? Are they using the same mop to clean the restrooms, hallways and kitchen areas? Do they put up the proper signage in public areas to reduce the chance of slips and falls?

This is an example of “cleanwashing.” 

We’ve found that cleanwashing happens more often then you’d think because so many people believe that anyone can clean. But another part of the issue is that people don’t think or ask how something is cleaned, just that it looks clean. And that’s a dangerous oversight. As anyone in this industry knows, there are a lot of things that can go undetected to the visible eye. Just ask any cleaner who has worked on a cruise ship and had to deal with Norovirus or a custodian who has had to deep clean a school during a flu outbreak.

Let’s think back to the happy pig picture. What happens when you hand someone a flat mop with little to no instruction? Just because the floor has been mopped, has it been cleaned? The individual might work from left to right, he or she might walk in circles around the floor, walk around areas that have already been mopped—there’s really no limit to the way one might approach mopping a floor. They could be moving soil around, not removing the soil.

More organizations are focusing on standardization to help them streamline practices and help improve processes moving forward.

How Does Standardization Help Improve Organizational Excellence?

When we think of standardizing processes, you may think that it would only be beneficial to franchise operations or by businesses that repeat work throughout more than one location. For example, a contract cleaner would benefit from standardizing job duties and processes so someone can pick up a job in Building A and repeat it in Building D or F—wherever they are needed, delivering the same exact quality of work.

But occupational theorists have found that the benefits of a standardizing processes go beyond delivering a consistent product. It can also be a tool to empower and retain employees. Standardization takes the guesswork from the task and means that employees have an established, time-tested process to use. Organizations use standardized processes to boost productivity and improve employee morale, because employees can take pride in knowing that they have mastered a given task. Fast Company says that organizational standardization can fuel innovation. And there’s a good chance we’ll only see more standardization in the future. The prestigious Wharton School of Business says companies are increasingly moving toward standardization.

When it comes to cleanwashing, standardization gives anyone who is either directly or indirectly responsible for the cleaning and maintenance in their building with a set of guidelines. It also allows for the development of metrics. In an ideal scenario, all custodial positions are workloaded, and workers are kitted with the exact tools and supplies they need for the day. They follow a specific set of instructions detailed on a card so areas are cleaned the exact same way, each time, delivering a standard result and a consistent level of clean throughout every building. 

How Can We Combat Cleanwashing?

Too often, custodial work is commoditized, meaning that people don’t understand the value of the service and shop it out to the lowest-priced provider. While this trend is starting to change, it’s up to the people who provide custodial services that are built upon standardized processes and procedures to educate stakeholders about what they bring to the table. A few important talking points to cover might include:

— Removing soil versus moving soil around.

— Worker training and safety.

— The impact of cleaning on health. 

— The cost versus the price of clean.

— How standardization impacts the overall quality of clean.

As we illustrated in the first part of this series, there is an increasing demand for clean facilities. People spend money in buildings that are clean. But it’s important for the people who live, work and visit those facilities to understand that just because something LOOKS clean, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily IS clean. When there’s a standardized process in place, you have the peace of mind in knowing that the outcome is consistent — every time. 

The Cleaning Gazette – June/July 2015 Issue

Improve Restroom Cleaning Productivity

Article written for Facility Cleaning Solutions by Ben Walker, ManageMen, Inc.

To improve productivity, set up pantries near or in the restroom, which can be used to safely store consumables. This greatly reduces the amount of paper that workers have to keep on their carts, and minimizes time spent traveling back and forth to restock….

CLICK HERE to read full article.

The Cleaning Gazette – August 2014 Issue

The Cleaning Gazette – May 2014

Read all about it: The Cleaning Gazette – November 2013 Issue now available

Click on the link below to read the November 2013 issue of The Cleaning Gazette. The Cleaning Gazette is the official publication of the Cleaning Industry Trainer’s Guild.

Dedication and Quality Training Leads to Recognizable Improvements at LAHH

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Submitted by Nancy Albin
LAHH

 

The LAHH Christmas Bowling Party 2012. In front, Daniel and Bryan – Light Duty Specialists in the certification program.

“What we’re doing is recognizable”, said Mike during the LAHH supervisor meeting. Mike manages a team of six custodial specialists of which four are people with special needs. Jamie, on Mike’s team, has started to show improvement with managing the Super Coach BackPac Vacuum, even though her hand-eye coordination and equilibrium are impacted by her disability. But it is clear her heart is not! Mike told us he is so proud of her as she has been working hard to learn the specialty and not give up.

Mike also shared that Jamie has been improving and how her work is recognizable. And this is what he loves about (OS1) and working as a utility specialist. Guido went on to say, “Mike, you are right. When we look back at our finished work we can see a change, we can see something different from before. We are improving something.” Guido shared that during the last certification class, the homework focused on cleaning plays for Light Duty Specialist and in question #2, asked what should be picked up from the floor prior to the Vacuum Specialist arriving to the area? Mike responded that Jamie hasn’t had to pick up anything too large for the vacuum or call back a Light Duty specialist. The Light Duty Specialists on Mike’s team are also in the certification program. Quality in education extends to quality in the workplace. What is happening in the classroom at the LAHH (OS1) training facility is recognizable . . . in the workplace.

 

Understanding Cleaning Times and Work Assignments Seminar

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Cleaning times and work assignments are one of the most important, yet misunderstood concepts in managing a profitable cleaning program. In this half-day workshop, John Walker, author of ISSA’s Cleaning Times series, will teach you how to use the 540 Cleaning Times to identify productivity strengths and weaknesses.

Workshop Details

  • This workshop will be taking place at ISSA/Interclean North America 2012 on Tuesday, October 16th at 1:30pm – 5:30pm @ McCormick Place. 
  • Separate registration is required: $149.
  • This workshop is not included in the ISSA Convention seminar fee.

To register for this workshop, just click on the button below:

[button link=”http://schedule.issa.com/event/2d28fd90d8eb0a21c7364ac9ea92fed4#.UFn2OkKLEqZ” color=”teal” window=”yes”]Register Now[/button]

 

University of Michigan Saves $2.1 Million Per Year and Improves Cleaning

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Submitted by ProTeam
CGN Editorial

The ProTeam Super CoachVac was featured in a series of posters at University of Michigan to educate the community about the elements of the new cleaning program.

 

In 2009, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor started a five year rollout of a comprehensive, high-performance cleaning management system, ManageMen‘s Operating System 1®, (OS1). John Lawter, Associate Director of Plant Building and Ground Services, chose (OS1) to improve productivity in light of ongoing budget cuts.

“We knew we were facing multiple years of reductions so we offered up 10% over 5 years with an understanding we would have a couple of years reprieve to protect our new program.” said Lawter. And since implementing (OS1), “We have met that 10 percent goal of $2.1 million and managed to improve services at the same time.”

With 200 facilities to clean covering a total of 15 million sq. ft., Lawter’s staff has gone from cleaning 36,000 sq. ft. per custodian to 40,000 sq. ft. per custodian, while improving the health of the environment. One of the biggest tenets of (OS1) is to clean for health first, then appearance. It was this and the simplified workflow that appealed to Lawter who wanted more consistency and fewer products.

“(OS1) was the only operating system we could find that was comprehensive and had been tested in a University setting for better than 10 years,” said Lawter. “We visited those programs as part of our due diligence and were impressed.”

In (OS1), custodians specialize in specific tasks, and they do all tasks of a single function at one time. This reduces wasted time switching tools and backtracking. Vacuum specialists may vacuum for an entire shift using a backpack vacuum designed by ProTeam® to reduce strain to the user.

“Dr. Berry’s study at the University of North Carolina showed us that, used properly, the backpack vacuum was a more ergonomic and effective product than an upright,” said Lawter.

Lawter swapped a ramshackle collection of uprights of different ages and models for ProTeam’s 11-pound Super CoachVac®.

“There’s no beater bar to throw dust around,” said Lawter. “It reduces the amount of dust particles in the air.” Two of Lawter’s staff who suffered from allergies reported their symptoms noticeably improving after switching to the backpack vacuum. ProTeam is partnered with the American Lung Association in efforts to educate the public about the importance of healthy indoor air.

Prior to implementing (OS1), the biggest problem Lawter faced was inconsistent performance, a symptom of the zone cleaning system they were using previously.

“No two custodians clean exactly alike,” said Lawter. “So, when one custodian is responsible for everything in an area, there will naturally be differences in the level of service. Our customers noticed those inconsistencies.”

According to Jeffrey L. Campbell, Ph.D., Chair of the BYU Facility Management program, Most custodial operations: “1) have no quantifiable standards; 2) are based solely on appearance; 3) have little or no method of measuring effectiveness and performance; 4) are not based on actual research; and 5) are driven by chemical and equipment manufacturers.”

Campbell recorded the story of the University of Michigan’s cleaning success along with the University of North Carolina and two other universities that implemented (OS1) in the article “Cutting Costs and Improving Outcomes for Janitorial Services” which appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of Facilities Manager and was reprinted in the Cleaning Gazette Newsletter the following May.

“In an industry that has been around as long as public buildings themselves, janitorial methods have seen little progress. As a matter of fact, most janitors today use the same tools and processes that were used 50 years ago,” said Campbell.

In addition to the timesaving backpack vacuums, (OS1) reduced Lawter’s chemical inventory from 50 products to less than 10. Individual use portion packs ensure that custodians get what they need and only what they need to clean every day. For Lawter, this hugely simplified the process.

“We used to have a committee of 30 people that would meet once a month and review the latest and greatest new products that came down the line,” said Lawter. “It was very inefficient, time-consuming, expensive, and led to a proliferation of products out there being tested by our workforce. ManageMen has a research and development arm for (OS1) users that does that, so I don’t directly deal with salesman. I love that.”

John Walker, President of ManageMen and progenitor of (OS1), explains how the echo chamber of product claims in the cleaning industry is rarely substantiated by science. “Everyone sells productivity tools. People buy them to save money and time, but they never document that they did it,” said Walker. “The University of Michigan’s janitorial department is a pioneer in documenting over $2 million in savings. They gave it back to the university.”

As reported in the Cleaning Gazette Newsletter last July, Sightlines, a prominent facility management assistance firm, did a thorough evaluation of the University of Michigan in the fall of 2010. They compared the data to a database of 300 institutions of higher learning and a group of 10 peer universities chosen by the administration.

This survey was taken in the midst of the (OS1) rollout at the university. The custodial department had not yet reached the 80-percent audit they hoped for. They were still rated as the number one organization in cleanliness evaluations. The study also showed high production rates and low cost of materials in comparison to their peers and the greater database.

“They got to a 2.5 cleaning level on a 3.5 APPA budget,” said Walker. “And in the Sightlines study, they beat virtually everyone in the country and in their peer group after adopting (OS1). There has never been a collection of data like this.”

In their most recent (OS1) audit last month, the University of Michigan surpassed their goal of an 80 percent audit, reaching 83 and 87 percent. According to Walker, it is the work of people like Lawter and his staff in documenting the effectiveness of (OS1) that will someday take the cleaning industry by storm. When cleaning is standardized, workflows are simplified, and productive tools are utilized, unbelievable savings are possible. “You can reduce costs and improve results with this documented system,” said Walker.

(OS1) Green Certified and Green Programs of Excellence Announced

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We are thrilled to announce the organizations who have earned their (OS1) Green Certified Program Awards and/or the (OS1) Green Program of Excellence Awards for the 2011/2012 Audit Season. Winners will be presented their official award plaque at the 11th Annual Simon Institute Symposium in New Orleans, LA next week. To see a complete list of who earned these prestigious awards, please click on a link below:

 

Green Certified Program recipients showing their awards at the Simon Institute Symposium - 2011

About the Awards…

(OS1) organizational certification is determined by our (OS1) Audit criteria, on a building-to-building basis, within a cleaning organization. Currently, there are approximately 340 different factors we look at that cause any building to be clean.  We audit what is going on at the actual site, as well as, the management of that site.

(OS1) Green Certifed Awards are presented to facilities that have submitted to the (OS1) Progress Audit and earned at least an 80% score or higher. Programs that earn a 90% or higher score, earn the (OS1) Green Certified – Program of Excellence Award. A facility that achieves this certification is successfully managing their (OS1) Program. At this level, an (OS1) organization is reducing environmental risk and the probability of unwanted effects. Specifically, (OS1) Green Certified Programs and (OS1) Green Programs of Excellence can demonstrate the following:

  • Cleaning for Health first and then for appearance
  • Disposing of cleaning wastes in a environmentally responsible manner
  • Increased worker safety and awareness
  • Increased level of sanitation of building surfaces
  • Responsible and proper removal of pollutants from the facility
  • Reduction of chemical, particle and moisture residue
  • Minimization of human exposure to pollutants