As we move into the further stages of coronavirus, many states are beginning to reopen and return to work. Every state and every office, of course, is unique. There are a specific set of challenges that a smart, well-prepared janitorial team will need to address. As is the case with all facilities, there is no “one size fits all” custodial solution.

So what role should your cleaning staff play in readying the facility for a return to work? We think this is an essential question to ask before you begin strategizing, ordering supplies, and building inventory. Before you plan your custodial approach, you should be sure to engage stakeholders across the company. If cleaning wasn’t at the forefront of your leadership’s minds before the virus, it certainly is now. Perhaps never before in our lifetimes have our janitorial/custodial teams been recognized for the vital work we do.

It Takes a Village
Creating and maintaining a clean, sanitized work environment that keeps your team safe is going to take cooperation from everyone. What does this mean? It can be anything from making clear policies around wearing masks to providing cleaning materials around the office. Especially near high-traffic areas, employees will probably be more open to supporting your cleaning staff. You can provide sanitizers and gentle cleaning products around conference rooms, bathrooms, and phone booths. All of these are high-traffic, high-touch areas where it’s just not feasible for a cleaning staff to maintain coverage all day long. So be sure to provide the supplies and engage your workforce to cooperate.

That being said, cleaning staff should (if possible) set a schedule for periodic cleaning of those high-traffic areas throughout the day. Work with leadership to make sure the schedule has visibility among everyone who’s impacted — that way there’s no confusion around when a conference room, for example, is being booked for cleaning.

Time for a Makeover
With social-distancing as the principle guideline for returning to work, office layouts across the country are responding. Desks, chairs, and tables are being spaced differently, further apart. Your team should have a voice in this process. How furniture and workspaces are rearranged will directly impact your custodial team’s ability to clean the facility. It can impact how effective / deep the cleaning becomes, as well as the speed/efficiency of said cleaning. So be sure to engage other stakeholders to have a voice in the proces.

Clean AND Communicate
Perhaps more than ever before, it’s essential for you to communicate what your team is doing and how they’re doing it. The spotlight is on our custodial staff, so let’s shine. Companies across the globe are issuing updates to their returning workforce explaining how they’re preparing the workspace for a return and what they’re doing to keep employees safe. You can play a role in this process by communicating clearly and consistently your team’s approach. Has your custodial staff begun a more thorough night-time cleaning regiment? Tell people about it. Did you recently install a new air-purification system? Be sure to give the details and exactly how it will help protect the returning employees.

These are trying times but they’re also an enormous opportunity for your custodial staff to shine. Let’s set the bar for excellence and move forward together!

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