In this episode of Cleaning Conversations, we spoke to Ben Walker, COO of ManageMen about how the pandemic has impacted ManageMen’s training and events, shifts and opportunities he sees for the cleaning industry and the most valuable advice he’s ever received. If you have anything to do with cleaning in a facility beyond your home or are interested in strategies to improve public health, you won’t want to miss this insightful conversation.
Tag Archive for: John Walker
There’s a pretty good chance that over the past month, you’ve heard the name “Marie Kondo” or even watched one of her shows. Named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” Japan’s queen of decluttering has found her way into millions of U.S. home by sharing her way of cleaning or, “tidying up,” those items that do not “spark joy” in their lives. From her two best-selling books to her recent Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” she provides organizational guidance to help people create order using her patented “konmarie method.”
In her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo discusses how tidying up— much like cleaning — is a self-taught exercise.
“The general assumption, in Japan at least, is that tidying up doesn’t need to be taught but rather is picked up naturally,” she says. “Cooking skills and recipes are passed down as family traditions…yet no one hears of anyone passing on the family secrets of tidying, even within the same household.”
“Instruction in tidying is neglected not only in the home but also at school,” she continues. “When we think back to our home economics classes, most of us remember making hamburgers or learning how to use a sewing machine to make an apron…surprisingly little time is devoted to the subject of tidying.”
It doesn’t take much looking to see the parallels between our industry, the professional cleaning and hygiene industry, and how Kondo has built her empire. She’s found a way for people to find order and develop a system for “maintaining” their home, just as a cleaning operation is designed to do within a commercial building, such as a school, hospital or office.
Similar to the “tidying up” movement, a lot of people in the professional cleaning industry are self-taught because we also operate on the notion that cleaning is a skill that is picked up naturally or through experience.
Like Kondo, our founder, John Walker, recognized the issue with this approach. Because people lacked the proper training, they were not often able to truly clean in a way that led to cleaner, safer and healthier facilities. That’s why he developed (OS1), a scientifically engineered approach to cleaning. This system helps provide a system for cleaning and maintaining a building.
Let’s look at the similarities between Marie Kondo’s approach to tidying up and the (OS1) approach to cleaning:
|Marie Kondo’s Approach
|Visit a home and consult with the customer about their goals and objectives.
|Meet with the client to discuss current program and objectives for implementing a new custodial system
|Conduct an audit/inventory of the home’s material possessions
|Conduct a baseline audit of the custodial program. This includes: inventory of custodial supplies & equipment; observations of cleaning processes; detailed cost analysis of labor/product usage; training and education program; scheduled cleaning services; and HAZCOM risk assessment.
|Teach the KonMarie method
|Teach the (OS1) process through events like Janitor University, Train the Trainer, (OS1) Boot Camp and (OS1) specialist certifications.
|Help clients understand that tidying up is not a chore but a mindset.
|Help custodial operations understand the importance of janitors and that they be treated as first-class citizens.
|Work with homeowners to implement the KonMarie method and begin purging the home of unnecessary material items
|Set up a pilot building within the facility to begin rolling out the (OS1) system.
|Roll out the Konmarie method over the next month
|Continue tactically rolling out the (OS1) system based upon a successful pilot. Create repeatable outcomes and over the next several months/years scale to additional buildings within the operation.
|Follow-up with client
|Ongoing benchmarking of best practices with other (OS1) users through an annual symposium. Participate in annual progress audits to document milestones, troubleshoot issues.
Take a look at your custodial closet. Is it filled bottles of cleaning chemicals made by companies that aren’t even in business anymore? Do you have pieces of broken equipment collecting dust in the corner? Do you know what tasks are being performed every single day? Do you spend your day handling complaints and putting out fires? Is your staff’s morale perpetually low?
If so, it could mean your custodial department is ready for a little tidying up too.
“Compression Thinking” is a distillation of 30 years of research by Robert W. “Doc” Hall, who explains his approach to business in this video. This is a new era, where resources are becoming more scarce and the impact of larger human populations on the Earth requires mankind to rethink business practices, which up to now have been seen as gospel truths. However, proven solutions do exist for business problems, both old and new ones, and Doc Hall explores them here… through his concept of Compression Thinking.
The Simon Institute, ManageMen and the (OS1) Users are featured in the video above.
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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.
- 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:
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Submitted by ProTeam
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.
Article from the March 2012 Issue of The Cleaning Gazette
There is a conflict in the professional cleaning industry. The green cleaning movement has pushed for cleaning products and practices that are free of toxins, poisons, endocrine disrupters and known carcinogens. Yet, recent outbreaks of infectious diseases and drug-resistant bacteria demand that pathogens be eliminated from the indoor built environment utilizing “kill” agents (read poisons).
In (OS1), we meet both requirements by utilizing an engineered cleaning process and a scientifically validated process for reducing pathogenic microorganisms. (OS1) strikes the right balance between being environmentally sustainable and controlling pathogenic microorganisms.
Benchmarking Best Practices
For twenty years, we have educated organizations about cleaning processes and products that ensure their worker’s health and safety. Aerosols and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were first reduced, then eliminated from the (OS1) program. They were replaced by Green Seal Certified chemicals that also provided a source reduction of landfill waste. Mixing chemicals was eliminated. All daily-use (OS1) cleaning chemicals come in pre measured packs so the worker just adds water. This eliminates the danger of chemical overexposure. Although to (OS1) users it is just common sense and education, this is an uncommon practice in the jan/san industry. In addition to safer chemical formulations and packaging, our (OS1) trained Coaches teach their employees chemistry basics including the pH scale, the “4 S’s of cleaning” and cleaning physics. They also train their employees on the correct application of cleaning tools and time. New, neutral pH disinfectants were introduced by PortionPac that effectively kill pathogens, but are safer on surfaces.
John Walker, President of ManageMen says:
“It’s all about knowing the surface and using the right chemical solvent on the soil that is present at the right time. Do it right the first time and you won’t damage surfaces and you won’t have to do it over.”
Disinfection requires not only the right solution, but friction as well, according the the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The tool of choice to provide that friction is the (OS1) specified Unger microfiber cloth. Microfiber razor-scrapes the surface. It actually cuts the bacteria away from the surface. The use of color-coded microfiber cloths helps prevent cross-contamination and communicates to the cleaning team who is following instructions. Microfiber is also easier to launder because the weave is so tight, pathogens are washed off the surface quite simply.
Maintaining Indoor Air Quality
Even with the presence of toxic cleaning chemicals reduced, indoor air quality can suffer without proper cleaning techniques and subsequently affect the health of cleaning workers and building occupants. It’s vital that contaminants in the air are captured at their source, before they enter our breathing zones. High efficiency vacuum filters and HEPA filters remove those invisible particulates that carry bacteria and mold spores.
Filters on vacuums clog frequently. When filters are dirty, clogged, and not changed often enough, they lose efficiency. Air quality is almost entirely a function of a custodian’s cleaning or polluting functions indoors, according to Dr. Berry’s UNC study. It is fundamental that the practices of indoor environmental management include tracking vacuum filter changes and cleaning.
Catch Dirt at the Door
“Something as simple as floor mats can also make a huge difference”, according to Dr. Michael Berry in the University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill, publicly funded study comparing “Traditional Housekeeping” with the (OS1) cleaning process in 2006.
In (OS1), we specify that the building must have at least a 15-20 foot walk-off mat. That’s at least five steps on a mat to clean your shoes. If you don’t use mats, dirt tracks into the building. Mats are designed to scrape soil from shoes, and carpets have a tendency to hide the dirt. We want to scrape and remove, not conceal dirt.
The establishment of professionalism among (OS1) cleaning workers follows their training and certification. They are the true environmentalists of the indoor environment. (OS1) Users must establish themselves as the “EnvironMentors” to the building occupants in the indoor environments that we all share.
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Two seemingly unrelated events were the subject of news stories in the early weeks of 2012. The first occurred on January 12, when the Vermont Senate gave final approval to Senate bill #92, a bill that requires public schools and “approved independent schools” to ensure that only environmentally preferable cleaning products are used to clean the schools. The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature which will transform the bill into law. Vermont’s state owned and leased buildings have already transitioned to “green” cleaning products as a result of the Clean State Program created by an executive order signed by Governor Douglas in 2004.
Banning Germ Killers in Schools
But the perhaps, unintended consequence of this legislation action goes further. It bans disinfectants and sanitizers in public schools. Is this really the lengths Vermont want to go to be “green”? If so it joins the states like California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Neveda, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. It is relevant to note that this legislation has been driven not by the medical community and public health experts but by state procurement officers and purchasing agents in league with the janitorial supply industry.
The Vermont bill allows for the use of disinfectants only when:
- Blood, body fluids or fecal soiling is present on any surface; (ignoring that most diseases are spread by invisible germs called pathogenic microorganisms and not visible accumulations listed in the Vermont legislation).
- The State makes a case specific determination that failure to use a disinfectant would create a risk to public health and safety (like MRSA, Avian Flu, SARS, Whooping cough, measles, and the common cold).
Two days later, on Saturday January 14, Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, aired a report in his series on Toxic America about the sorry, environmental health of schools in the United States. More schools than ever are making kids and school staff sick. While it’s tough to estimate how many toxic schools are in America, most research shows that at least a third or more of U.S. Schools have issues like mold, dust and other indoor air problems serious enough to cause respiratory illnesses like asthma in students and staff. Healthy Schools Network reports that as many as 55 million U.S. children may be attending public and private K-12 schools where poor air quality, hazardous chemicals and other unhealthy conditions can make everyone sick.
The U.S. EPA estimates that at least half of all schools in this country have indoor air quality problems caused by toxic chemical and pesticide use, chemical spills, mold infestations, asbestos, radon, lead in paint and drinking water, heavy metals and persistent toxics, such as mercury, CCA and PCBs.
Other highlights of Dr. Gupta’s story included:
- A story about a woman who claims school air sickened her son for 53 days last school year
- New York study finds correlation between building maintenance and illness
- Studies estimate one-third of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems
- Connecticut school so plagued with mold officials decided to tear it down
Now the Rest of the Story
Missing from both the Vermont and Dr. Gupta’s story was the recognition of the importance of cleaning and sanitation. There was no recognition that a proven process of cleaning and disinfections leads to improved health, comfort and educational performance.
In 2007, Michael Berry, PhD, wrote a booklet Healthy Schools are Clean, Dry and Productive. Largely ignored, this essay provides leadership for both the “school is making my kids sick” and the “green cleaning” groups. Berry points out that the “importance of a healthy school environment in enhancing the learning process is described in many studies. There is a direct connection between environmental quality, comfort, health and well-being, positive attitudes and behavior, and higher levels of education performance. The quality of the school environment shapes attitudes of students, teachers and staff. Attitudes affect teaching and learning behavior. Behavior affects performance. Educational performance determines future outcomes of individuals and society as a whole.”
We need to recognize that the main causes of environmentally related illness in schools are water, food sources for the various bio-pollutants, non-existent or ineffective cleaning, and poor ventilation. We should guard against becoming myopic when it comes to assessing environmental risk in school environments. Too often, we spend a large amount of time looking at air quality alone, especially in recent times with regard to mold. This narrow focus is necessary but by no means sufficient to protect the health of our children and their teachers and the quality of our school environments.
Should the states be banning disinfectants and sanitizers?
To protect health in schools, we need to take a close look at total exposure, and not solely focus on the air route of exposure. Bacteria that come from direct contact with other humans and surfaces cause over 80% of environmentally related illness. The main routes of exposure are dermal and ingestion, not air. Even air poses its most serious threats by delivering bacteria and viruses to sensitive receptors. Sufficiently concentrated airborne mold spore and other airborne allergens, such as cockroach antigen, frequently trigger allergic reactions in sensitized individuals, particularly asthmatics.
Disinfectant and sanitizers are by definition toxic. We use them to “kill” pathogens before they make humans sick. The purchasing agents and cleaning chemical supply marketing organizations who promote the complete ban on poisons and toxins in schools don’t understand what Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, declared in the 14th century “The dose makes the poison.” Using sanitizers are fundamental to food preparation, dishwashing and serving meals. Disinfection of potential cross-contamination points in lavatories, and other common touch points in schools are basic to proper cleaning and school hygiene.
Trainers should expect and be prepared to discuss the risk/benefit analysis of proper cleaning and sanitation. (OS1) has an unequalled dedication to environmental issues. But it also values the benefits associated with properly killing pathogenic microorganisms in the public facilities entrusted to us. The State of Vermont and Dr. Gupta should know about the following scientific studies on the importance of cleaning:
- Frank Porter Graham Study
- Alexander Krilov Study
- Healthy School Environment and Enhanced Educational Performance – The Case of Charles Young School Elementary School (Washington, DC)
They should also be promoting the benefits and the reported results by workers and patrons in (OS1) facilities like Dixon Middle School and University of Michigan. In 2012, the (OS1) user group will be focusing on three areas to “Protect Yourself” in facilities. They are:
- The reduction of asthma-type symptoms due to the performance level of (OS1) that provides negligible dust following the UNC cleaning protocol.
- Focus on proper use and application of germicidal chemicals.
- The opportunity to dramatically reduce humidity in schools by strategically using portable air drying equipment.
These three strategies are a messaging opportunity for the (OS1) trainers, (OS1) support manufacturers (particularly ProTeam, PortionPac & Dri-Eaz) and the Simon Institute.
This year was the first year, in a while, that our team had visited the annual ISSA tradeshow. While we were there, our very own John Walker, was asked by ISSA to talk about workloading and the 540 Cleaning Times book for an ISSA Educatuional Quick Clip video. In his video, John presents five ways to determine effective workloading solutions. To watch that video, please click here.
To order your very own copy of ISSA’s 540 Cleaning Times book, please click here.