Sustainability & Green Cleaning – The How To Guide

Sustainable cleaning

We shared a post that highlighted research by Ethical Consumer Magazine showing toilet paper is becoming less and less sustainable when compared to 2011. Included within this research Kimberly-Clark, one of the world’s largest suppliers of toilet paper, indicated that the recycled proportion of toilet paper (the wood pulp believe it or not) dropped from 30% to 23.5%.

When you read information like this it’s difficult to not wonder what other everyday items you thought to be sustainable actually aren’t.

For a number of years, rightly so, the commercial cleaning industry has needed to adapt to the changing needs of its customers. Green cleaning has been mentioned continuously, although it seems to be a buzzword that perhaps isn’t used as truthfully as we would like. What do we at Abelian think should be focused on when discussing all things green?

 

Single Use Plastics


Plastic is a number one priority that we should all be aiming to reduce, especially single use plastics. Single use plastic can actually be reduced by a savvy commercial cleaning partner when looking at packaging. Highly concentrated cleaning solutions that require dilution help to minimise the collective amount of plastic produced from cleaning services. Also, as innovation continues to change the industry, soluble solution pods that can be dropped into liquid are becoming even more popular. Domestic cleaning at home has seen a benefit from products like these in recent years. Access within professional cleaning is becoming increasingly open.

Even more so, refill products provide additional support. Containers that products have been purchased in are able to be refilled when required. Asking if your commercial cleaning provider uses a supplier with this option can be beneficial. Not only does this benefit the environment but it will also impact the cost of your monthly consumable invoice as it can be a cheaper option; less packaging, less cost.

 

What can your facility do?

What about your employees? Single use plastic in the office often comes from bottled water, plastic cutlery in canteens and even the shopping bags that take-out lunches are collected in. Refill water stations are important here, promote your employees to use this station and provide glass cups rather than those white flimsy plastic options.

Although it may seem extreme, but a ban on the use of single-use water bottles should be considered. Encourage your employees to become aware of the impact of plastic which takes over 1000 years to breakdown. Why not go a step further and provide your employees with branded bottles, it means you benefit from the promotion of your company when they’re out and about.

If your company is fortunate enough to have a canteen, champion the use of recyclable cutlery or use washable versions. Making these changes all go towards your company positively and sustainably reducing single use plastic. Also, encourage your team members to bring their own lunch in lunch boxes. You’ll help them to save money, fuel their day and reduce the need for plastic parts that make up standard sandwich or salad packaging. If they do want to head to the shops, why not provide them with re-usable bags, brand them again to get your brand out there in unlikely places.

Again, why not go one step further? Provide monthly rewards and incentives for your employees that follow these environmentally conscious ideas. Share your success as customers now look to share business with, and buy from those actively championing the environment.

You’re unlikely to eliminate all single use plastic in your office, as is your commercial cleaning provider but actively making steps to reduce its need, as much as possible, is crucial.

 

Safe Cleaning Solutions


The impact of commercial cleaning on the environment is known to pretty much everyone. Ways in which this impact can be reduced is paying attention to the cleaning solutions and their chemical make-up. Reducing toxicity can be done by investing in forward thinking innovation that has developed technology to make water electrostatic, as an example.

Charging the water particles allows it to stick to germs, bacteria and grime ultimately killing 99.99%. Technology of this sort reduces the need for toxic chemicals that are not only harmful to the environment but also human health. Think about schools or areas where vulnerable people spend prolonged amounts of time. Cleaning companies that understand, and think of the complete use of a facility are ones that are experienced enough to consider the negative impact of concentrated chemicals.

Reducing the use of toxic chemicals flows nicely into the Eco-friendly buzzword. This is a phrase that is often used by companies to showcase their focus on reducing their environmental impact. What actually does that mean though? How do you know that, in the case of commercial cleaning, your cleaning provider is using environmentally friendly cleaning solutions? Ecolabel.eu is a logo that everyone should ideally look for when choosing their cleaning solutions and products. This label should be prominent in your supplies cupboard.

How is EU Ecolabel environmentally conscious?

  • Minimised use of hazardous substances that may be harmful to aquatic environments
  • Products are highly biodegradable and so are less damaging when they flow into waste water systems
  • Reduced packaging is used
  • Fit-for-use criteria guarantees products still perform to the same standard as their less eco-friendly equivalents

Another method in which you can identity whether your provider has a proactive approach to reducing environment impact is looking for an ISO 1400:2015 accreditation. This ISO is given to companies that focus business practices to be sustainable for the environment. It considers everything from reducing water and energy consumption, eco-friendly equipment, the transportation, storage and use of equipment and materials.

Understanding labels and the regulation and authority behind them will help you to identify if eco-friendly is being used just as a buzzword.

 

Recycling Systems and Waste Management


Waste management systems should really be in every facility regardless of whether it is an office, school, leisure centre or medical practice. It allows you to streamline your waste, recycle what can be and select a no landfill policy.

Commercial cleaning providers can use multiple techniques to assist you in managing your waste. You don’t necessarily need a cleaning provider to make simple changes within your facility

Reduce the amount of waste you are producing by selecting your parcels or facility packages to be delivered in minimal packaging. So often we receive tiny parcels in huge boxes filled out with unnecessary bubble wrap. When items are received, ensure that the packaging is binned in the correct recycling bin.

Reuse items, or find different uses for things within your facility. The immediate thing that comes to mind is reducing the amount of paper used. Becoming more of a paperless company can help to tackle this. When printing is necessary, select your ink cartridges to be refilled rather than buying new replacements – it’s often cheaper too! Or, become part of a scheme that replants trees with every one that is cut down to create the paper that you use. Simple measures like this can be incredibly effective.

If you have units, filing cabinets, office organisers, computers or technology that may be no use in your office – don’t just immediately throw them in the bin. Think resourcefully about this, are there any start-up companies that could use your unwanted office chairs or filing cabinets? Your computers or old printers can be donated to companies that may use them for spare parts or be revamped for another use. How many charity shops have you gone past that have old furniture in? Donate unneeded items from furniture pieces down to office lamps, old mugs or even accessories that have helped to give your facility some personality.

Yes, you may think that it’s a time consuming activity, but actively encouraging your employees to change their attitude towards recycling can be a sure way to get everyone involved in helping the environment, and another person.

 

Introduce Recycling Bins fit for Purpose


A winning strategy to become more sustainable is to ensure designated recycling bins are available for waste. Provide bins for cardboard, plastic, cans, paper and food waste. Your commercial cleaning provider should be implementing this in all facilities if it hasn’t already been done. Educate your employees to make sure they are dropping their litter in the correct bin.

Also, removing excessive waste bins can help to encourage employees to use recycling bins. Each desk really doesn’t need its own plastic filled bin liner, does it?

When it comes to bin bags, eco-friendly recycled bin liners are a new introduction that you can enquire about using. Granted, this might not be possible for everyone but these are all smart ways of thinking to become more environmentally sustainable.

 

Fibre Technology and Tissue Based Products


We found this really interesting when it was written in the Cleaning Matters article in June – Sustainable fibre technology. Advancements in using by-product items have meant Essity plans to use wheat straw and plant-based renewable resources to manufacture tissue products. This can be used in a variety of cleaning materials and consumables from fibre clothes to tissue based products. Knowing that your commercial cleaning provider is keeping up to date with innovations within the industry means you are far more likely to evolve with them. They will be able to discuss introducing these products or technologies helping you to become an even more green company.

 

Other methods of being sustainable and increasing productivity


Often or not cleaning services will be carried out outside of working hours, this can be after school or when offices or medical practices are closed. Saving energy needs a cleaning strategy. Sometimes flow cleaning is appropriate, in that cleaning teams will complete the cleaning of a room one by one moving methodically. This means that lights are not unnecessarily left on and energy it saved overall. However, sometimes this isn’t appropriate for large scale facilities, especially when jobs cannot be simultaneously completed. So what other things can be done to increase productivity whilst remaining sustainable?

 

Hard Floor Cleaning


Hard floor cleaning traditionally uses mops and buckets filled with water where the cleaning solution is diluted in. Mopping solutions that don’t need buckets can help to tackle excess water use, and can be more sustainable too. Bucketless mopping controls the amount of water dispensed from an internal reservoir, reducing excess. Cleaning solutions will be measured based on their dilution so chemicals are no excessively used, saving money in the long run. The set up time for bucketless mopping also increases productivity. Filling mop buckets and carrying them to locations all takes time. You might not think this easy set up saves a huge amount of time, but small time savings like this all add up.

 

Sanitation and Disinfection


Employee, public and student health is so important, especially when the risk of flu outbreaks increases during autumn and winter months. Sickness outbreaks put your employees at risk, so having a cleaning method in place should be a top priority. In terms of sustainability and man power, the mentioned electrostatic technology is perfect.

A room can typically, dependant on size, be fully sanitised within 5 minutes. The technology means particles attach to all surfaces areas, not just those in eye line so hard to reach germs are killed. Also, light films of disinfectant means there is minimal room downtime should a clean happen during work hours. The disinfectants used are not laced with chemicals either! So it’s safe for both the environment and people. Productivity can be understood when you think about how long it would take just one person to manually wipe every surface in a room. Five minutes per room is probably as efficient as it can get.

 

Scrubber Dryer


Granted, this probably isn’t the most recent form of technology as it’s been around for a while. However, we think it deserves a spot in this list as it reduces the number of manual hours required to scrub and clean hard floors, as well as buff for a finished shine. Scrubber driers can be sat on or walked behind by cleaning teams where results can be achieved in almost half the time. The scrubber technology can be changed to be suitable for a variety of floors. This means one machine can be used to clean multiple surfaces meaning only on investment is needed. Granted, it is an investment that not everyone is willing to make.

Dependent on the scrubber drier used water usage is dependent; therefore understanding the machine will allow you to know if it will provide you with water conservation. Also, due to the technology within the machine only eco appropriate cleaning solutions can be used. This is due to the fact toxic chemicals will in fact cause internal damage. They’re eco-friendly without having to think about it.

Want to become more eco-friendly – Contact us

Feel free to drop us a comment or fill out our contact form if you’re looking to partner with a cleaning company that can help you become more environmentally sustainable.

 

In-house cleaning vs Commercial Contract Cleaning

Fact According to industry analysts

In-house cleaning is self-explanatory; a company directly employs their own team of cleaners to manage the Soft FM of a facility. Very often in-house cleaning is thought to be more financially beneficial for a company in terms of time and cost savings.

The logic behind this is when a company directly employs their own cleaners the management responsible for the team has 100% control. This control allows for pay rates and pension schemes, in line with the law, to be set competitively, cleaning solutions can be bought from the cheapest suppliers and cost saving initiatives can be used. So, if you think of it like this you wouldn’t be judged for thinking in-house cleaning is the most cost effective solution.

 

Talking budgets

When it comes to contract costs, as one of London’s chosen commercial cleaning providers, we know prospect customers may be less trusting of contractors to maximise the use of the available budget; value add goes a long way! We know that customers may have been stung by a poor service delivery in the past, understandably leaving a bad impression.

Often companies that went back to in-house cleaning did so because of costs. In their previous experience, first year prices were fixed at a competitive rate but when moving into the second year costs were steadily increased. The main culprit for this is the art of underquoting to win a contract – we aren’t saying this is solely the reason, but conversations with prospect customers provide great insights into previous experiences. So, it’s no surprise that often companies or schools are questionable about the benefits of contracted cleaning!

It is worth noting here that Abelian prides itself on creating fixed price contracts for all customers, regardless of contract length. Prices only vary when legal obligations come into play relating to pensions and TUPE pay rates.

Surprisingly in the long run out-sourcing office cleaning or school cleaning services can actually be better financially — as well as relieving stress for management.

 

In-house management and cleaning products

With in-house cleaning employees are responsible for stock checks and ordering cleaning equipment and solutions. As well as scheduling all equipment to receive a legally required PAC test yearly.

As a cost saving measure, commercial cleaning companies will often buy in bulk or through partnerships with a supplier which means reduced consumable costs are reflected in the price of your contract.

Surfaces or floors that require cleaning solutions recommended by the manufactures guidelines can be incredibly difficult and expensive to source. The risk of using the wrong solution can be a costly mistake to make. Not to mention the skill and expertise that is required to correctly clean these surfaces with not only the correct solution but also machinery and techniques.

If your facility is pushing for greener cleaning in terms of biodegradable products to reduce toxins and pollutants in the office, contractors will have better access and knowledge of suitable supplies. We aren’t saying here that it is impossible for facility managers to source these cleaning suppliers or equipment. What we are saying is the time and effort needed to ensure equipment is correct for its use and tested for safety, as well as sourcing cleaning solutions for cost efficiencies can be difficult, especially if you don’t have storage space to buy solutions in bulk.

Account Manager responsible for your contracted cleaning service will manage ordering, sourcing and delivering of all required consumables as well as arranging PAC testing for equipment. This means within your service delivery you receive more than just financial savings, it also gives facility managers additional time to focus their attention on more pressing work duties.

 

Finance and budget changes

Cleaning budgets are constantly under pressure to become more financially beneficial, with customers rightly so wanting true value and proof their budget is used effectively. Out-sourcing cleaning means your cleaning contractor will take the responsibility of delivering a quality cleaning service with the budget you have available – within reason of course. It also means if senior management want to further cut costs, often cleaning budgets are hit first, a cleaning contract protects your facility from cleaner shortages. This means facility managers can be confident that the cleanliness and hygiene of their facility is not negatively impacted.

Should there be a high level of staff turnover or in-house cleaners fail to turn up to their shifts, cleaning companies have reactive staff procedures in place. Time and Attendance systems trigger staff no shows to account managers responsible for the cleaning contract. Any unexpected absences are seamlessly covered as mobile cleaning teams will step in to cover any sick or holiday leave.

A cleaner shortage with in-house cleaning means cover can be difficult to find. If a cleaning agency is used this often comes with a high price tag, not ideal when you’re looking to keep costs down. If cover cannot be found the cleaning team will, more than likely, be expected to cover the additional work in the absence of a cleaner or cleaners. This definitely isn’t a proactive method to ensure that your employees are empowered and motivated.

 

A complete service package:

For a complete soft facilities management, cleaning is only one of the services that should be used to maximise the cleanliness and hygiene of your facility. Additional services may be required such as Carpet & Hard Floor Deep CleaningFloor Maintenance, Window Cleaning and Management of Waste Disposal especially when reduction of waste is part of your company or schools ethos. When in-house cleaners are used there may be the perception that cleaning costs are kept low due to internal sourcing.

However, when it comes to out sourcing these additional services, management are required to source, agree contracts and manage each individual service provider to ensure the work is carried out when required and to the standard expected, individual contract costs rapidly add-up. Using a Commercial Cleaning provider that is able to deliver you all of the above services under one contract can work out to not only be more cost effective, but also removes the  time consuming and frustrating management process in orchestrating these processes. Why deal with multiple contact points when you can rely solely on one?

 

Security & safeguarding your premises:

Security rightly so is an important factor that could be seen as being benefited from through in-house cleaning, particularly when it comes to schools or offices where secure information is accessible or overheard. In-house recruitment means selective criteria can be used to determine suitability of cleaners, it also means that trust can be fostered immediately through this process.

At Abelian, we safeguard secure areas by ensuring DBS checks are carried out on all of our cleaners so only the safest people have access to your facility where information or vulnerable people are. The use of ID badges and vetting processes maximises trust with our customers in all sectors. Where sensitive information or documents may be placed on desks, our cleaners are instructed to clean around these documents. Office managers are asked to ensure employees correctly store or file such documents to allow cleaners to thoroughly clean desks.

 

Training, training & more training:

As said before, ensuring a hygienic and clean environment is maintained, especially in areas of high footfall requires skill and concentration. The use of machinery and cleaning agents requires on-going training to ensure cleaners are using the machinery to its full capacity and correctly.

If you’re in-house, all training is left to the designated manager responsible for the team – it may even mean these managers need training themselves. This is not only time consuming, but is also a costly procedure and comes with added frustration. As you have probably already guessed, this is another benefit to outsourcing cleaning. It is the contractor’s duty to ensure all cleaners are trained and equipped with the latest knowledge to effectively carry out their job in a timely manner. Training doesn’t just include how to use equipment, it also extends to cleaners working in line with health and safety procedures as well as the storage and use of chemicals under COSHH.

If cleaning agents are used that contain chemicals, the storage and mixing of these is paramount to internal safety of everyone within the space – poorly trained cleaners risk harming both themselves and those around them. Companies that have been awarded the Certification ISO 9001 have so for their ongoing quality assurance and procedures in line with health and safety.

 

In summary

Arguably, it depends on what side of the fence you sit when determining whether commercial cleaning provides additional benefits over in-house options. We hope that the points made above go some way to offering a deeper insight into commercial cleaning and its ability to offset budgets and time for facility managers.

 

Contact us

Feel free to drop us a comment or fill out our contact form if you’re looking to see how Abelian can become your trusted, value add commercial cleaning provider

Tel: 020 7501 9999

How to identify value add in Commercial Cleaning

commercial cleaning value add

When you are choosing your next commercial cleaning provider there is an expectation that the service you receive should totally reflect the cost of your contract. However, in such a competitive market with over 8,000 cleaning companies based in London alone, what other sources of value are there that a cleaning company can provide?

At Abelian, we believe to successfully deliver customer satisfaction and an exceptional service delivery there are key things that should be included:

 

Auditing & Quality Management Systems (QMS)

QMS allow companies to repeatedly asses, through audits, success in delivering a service to the required standard. Service standards are usually audited against agreed KPI’s within the service level agreement. Auditing though Abelian is done using two approaches:

  • On-site supervisors will audit daily to ensure all areas and cleaners are working to the level required
  • Account managers will audit monthly with a hand held device that means reports are assessed to ensure we continuously achieve agreed KPI targets.

QMS software also lets us predict the potential of a service failure before it impacts a facility, this means we can refocus our efforts on problem zones.

 

Recruitment 

We strongly advise using a cleaning provider that directly employs all staff in favour of companies that use contracted teams.  Direct employment safeguards against cleaner sick or holiday leave. In the event of these situations staff contingency plans are used.

Staff contingency means that on-site supervisors or cleaners working nearby can be moved across to provide cleaning support. If no staff are free or available, mobile cleaning teams will immediately step in. Contracted cleaning teams can mean it’s near impossible to guarantee you have the correct number of cleaners on site everyday.

 

Staff Training

Commitment to investing in employees is fundamental in the cleaning industry. Training and empowering your team to take the upmost pride in their work, whilst providing each member of staff with the skills to deliver a quality service, is incredibly important.

Training should focus on cleaning duties, company policies, health and safety plus environmental principles to be clear for all. This enables everyone involved in the cleaning of your facility to work safely, as well safely maintaining your facility for all other employees or visitors. Falling under the health and safety category, COSHH training and tool box talks are essential.

Abelian believes that using various training formats helps us to accommodate cleaners that learn in different ways. Having a mixture of hands on training, video format, digital presentation and printed training manuals means our cleaners learning are engaged. This also maximises their learning. We have the benefit of a training school at our head office so training can be scheduled at any time where management see fit.

 

Reactive Response

The ability of your commercial cleaning provider to immediately step in, or predict a potential service delivery failure indicates their level of contract focus. Reactive response can relate to a number of things:

  • An absence of a cleaner: this is where a staff contingency plan comes into play.
  • Cleaning audits that highlight an area of poor service: Regular audits will mean your account manager should be able to predict a potential service failure. Training, encouragement or additional supervision will be provided to prevent the problem escalating.
  • Shortage of cleaning solutions: Abelian’s supply chain means within 24 hours we’ll have solutions on site whether it’s a public holiday or solution orders are made last minute.

 

We previously asked the question about what is value add. The above points are what Abelian believe to be the foundations of customer satisfaction. What is it that contractors can provide to give additional value?

 

Communication streamlined

How many times have you struggled to get hold of your account manager or had an email ignored for a frustrating amount of time?

Communication being streamlined between both the service provider and customer is key. Having direct contact numbers and email addresses is the bare minimum that should be supplied.

Online help desks provide an extra platform so comments can be forwarded at any time and responded to by teams that monitor this service. Written comment books can also be supplied, granted this is not the preferred digital format, but for non-pressing issues customers can jot down comments and these can be addressed during monthly meetings.

Clear communication between you and you cleaning account manager is important, but this needs to also extend to operations directors and regional managers. In the event, it’s always better to be prepared, that a failure occurs by your account manager, having the ability to contact high level staff provides you with security that your provider is able to address your needs head-on and efficiently.

 

Transparency

It’s great if your commercial cleaning provider is carrying out monthly audits to determine how well KPI’s are being achieved. However, if you aren’t shown these reports how are you to know if the cleaning standard represents what you agreed? Out sourcing to a cleaning provider benefits you by allowing your time to be focused elsewhere, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to double check areas. Cleaning providers should be confident enough in their service delivery that they are 100% transparent with all audit reports; this includes cleaning audits and cleaner attendance.

Abelian believes transparency provides value add to all customers. It allows you to see what processes are in place and how successful the assigned cleaning team is. Transparency also supports an open dialogue between you and your provider.

 

Long lasting relationships

Client retention rate is a buzz word that can be used to determine how good a provider is at achieving long lasting relationships. Although it can be confusing to understand depending on what variable you’re using to measure it.

Is it based on contract length? If so, Abelian has been providing Costa Coffee HQ with cleaning for the last 23 years. Or, are you measuring it on the number of customers that have renewed after the initial contract term?  70% of Abelian’s customers have renewed their contracts.

Knowing how well cleaning providers retain their customers provides an insight in to their ability to meet their customers needs. Customer satisfaction is number one for knowing a cleaning company can deliver on what they promise.

 

Security

Often a cleaning team that cleans outside of normal office or facility opening hours will be responsible for locking and securing the facility. Security includes locking all doors, windows and setting any alarms. So, how is this value add?

You don’t need us to tell you that the security of your building is crucial, as is turning off lights from an energy saving perspective. Knowing that your cleaning team can be trusted to follow your security procedure means it’s a worry you no longer have to think about. We know that returning to work and finding doors or windows that have been not been secured will very quickly become stressful, and not to mention incredibly frustrating. Value add comes from the peace of mind you’ll be given, it’s not something you can purchase.

 

Want a Free Cleaning Quote?

We believe that when a cleaning contract involves the mentioned above comments, customer satisfaction can be easily achieved. If your current cleaning provider is failing to deliver you the value add that you deserve contact us today for a free quote & learn why Abelian should be your next trusted cleaning partner

 

 

Building an Office Atmosphere for Creative Minds

Building and Office for Creative Minds

London is fortunate enough to be a centralized hub of creative minds. With a number of studios, production houses, marketing and advertisement agencies helping global companies deliver content to leverage them as key players in their sector.  London’s advertising industry transnationally is arguably one of the oldest and most successful. You’ll find huge names like Bartle Bogle Hegarty, DDB Worldwide, J.Walter Thompson and WPP. As well as design houses like Interbrand, Landor and Wolff Olins.

With that in mind, companies now are focusing on their internal space and making way for new changes that foster creativity. London’s architecture isn’t something that can be changed. This makes it difficult for businesses that are working in offices that can’t easily be adapted to the changing work patterns of their employees. Or, in most cases, still have décor channelled from the late 80’s.

That being said, there are effective changes that can be made to foster productivity in your office and give it a boost as well as creating an environment that allows creativity to be fluid between all departments.   This allows your business to not be held back from unforgiving office layouts.

 

Locate a zone for creative thinking

A lively environment can be a difficult concept to deliver in your office environment. Lively offices encourage creative thinking as employees share and bounce ideas between each other. Everybody in one way or another has suffered from the frustrating ‘writers block’.

Designating areas within the office can be a positive shift. Areas can be found in communal zones, around open plan kitchens, comfy corners or even in spare rooms used for infrequent meetings. These designated areas allow employees to know where to head for creative freedom. It also means those who prefer to work in peace won’t be held back from their work.

Now you’ve chosen the location, provide comfortable seating, white boards for ideas to be scribbled and developed as well as fruit or fresh juice as refreshments. Building the office to be an extension of a comforting home can build a creative culture throughout the company.

 

Reduce clutter and make things movable

Desks that are cluttered, with poor organisation, and filled with unimportant documents will hold back clarity of thought for everyone. Cluttered desks only promote cluttered minds. Providing desk organisers, functional storage units and encouraging employees to have monthly desk clear outs will definitely help. This will also enable your cleaning provider to disinfect desks and equipment efficiently, impacting not only creative thinking but also reducing cross contamination of viruses in your office. Healthy employees take less days off, and are more motivated to work and meet deadlines.

Sitting in the same space day in day out can, for some, be really demotivating. Having desks that can be easily relocated, creative boards moved to others walls, or plants re-positioned can help to change your employees approach to work. Providing fresh surroundings can help to inject new thought processes.

 

Bring natural life inside 

Plants provide a host of benefits to offices, from their calming effect to increasing internal air quality. Visually, plants offer numerous shades of vibrant green and those that flower bring additional soft colours. For creative minds, plants can provide an opportunity for visual meditation, ultimately leading to more productive and calm employees.

Offices are often sealed when the luxury of opening windows is not available often because of high rise building or air conditioning units providing ‘optimum’ indoor conditions. Outdoor pollution is a major issue for London; open windows leave internal areas prone to toxic air. Multiple culprits for toxicity in offices comes from dust, VOC’s found in air fresheners or compounds released from old furniture. As well as formaldehydes and chemicals released from cleaning materials.

Plants are perfect for negating some of these pollutant effects. Choosing the right plant will provide internal conditions that will help to keep your employees healthy and proactive. As well as adding a calming advantage for everyone. We recommend:

  • Areca Palm: A super effective plant that removes toxins and provides water vapour to make sure your office isn’t affected by dry air.
  • Lady Palm: A perfect plant for offices that aren’t flooded with natural sunlight and thrive in cool spaces. Its slow growth gives longevity and is perfect for bringing life to empty corners.
  • Bamboo Palm: A fantastic solution for removing toxins found in rooms filled with formaldehyde found commonly in rubbers and detergents. . This will help to rid heavy heads within the office.

If your cleaning provider hasn’t approached you with the option of chemical free cleaning materials, we highly suggest this is something you chat to them about. Not only do chemical-free solutions help you as a company become more environmentally conscious, it also protects your staff from increased levels of toxicity which can be simply avoided. If employees suffer from asthma or allergies, you’ll also be helping them to manage these conditions.

 

Add splashes of colour and inspiration to walls

Colour has the ability to impact a person’s mood or feeling towards an environment. Adding colour to walls also allows companies to brand their office. This is perfect for visiting clients, allowing them to feel and see your company culture. Your colour scheme should reflect the creativity within your office.

Blue and orange is commonly associated with creativity. Whereas red and black more so with dominance and power. Selecting colours, whether it’s paint on the walls or choice of accessories, will help to invigorate team moral and provide pieces of inspiration.

This is the same for feature pieces; decorations in your office should reflect the company’s creative outlook. When new ideas are needed these key pieces can remind employees of the company culture, their creative direction and help stimulate fresh new ideas. Again, when clients visit they’ll be able to see a true reflection of your company’s ability to think outside the box and deliver an exceptional design led service.

 

Want a trusted company to provide you with the cleanliness that your space requires to support your office’s creative flow. Contact us today or take a look at our media office cleaning service. 

Your Spring Cleaning Check List Made Easy!

Spring cleaning checklist

We are so glad spring has finally started to show its slightly warmer face. It gives everyone the perfect excuse to clear out any unwanted things within the office. In doing so making way for a fresh and clutter free start to the season. We’re all prone to collecting various pieces of ‘tat’ that stick around taking up valuable space on our desks. Even the most organised of us benefit from a clear out.

Office cleaning can be done by either a commercial cleaning provider or by employees as a team task with multiple benefits. We’ve made a list that will give you some tips to help you make the most out of this year’s spring-time office cleaning:

 

1. Bin anything that’s not needed:

Your office without a doubt represents your company and its culture. If your office is where clients or guests visit, the last thing you want is giving an impression that your work reflects your potentially unkempt and messy environment. Ensuring that your facility is clean, tidy and professionally organised work wonders for making the right first impression.

Not just limited to your desk, offices are like our homes. They’re a prime location for a build-up of things no longer needed. Whether it’s old files, documents and notes, broken furniture or worn in filing cabinets. Cables become untidy causing trip hazards and plants that once had a better life may still be sat on windowsills.

Take a look at everything around you and work out what has and hasn’t been used over the last couple of months. How important are these pieces that are taking up valuable space? If they don’t make the cut then be confident to throw them away. This can make space for fresh faced items, or making more room in your office.  An airy environment is one that helps to create a sense of calm. This calming effect can help with maintaining your team’s morale, health and productivity.

 

What to do with unwanted items?

  • Throwing furniture away? Why not donate these items to a charity or to new start-ups that are struggling to fund their new office furniture. You’ll be sharing the feel good factor of a spring office clean!
  • Found files that are safe to be binned along with other paper or recyclable items. To make sure you are environmentally conscious ensure they are recycled properly. If you don’t have a recycling system in place then maybe this is something to think about!

 

2. The ultimate desk clean

So often we sit at our desks with paperwork and files building up in a way that creates what everyone calls an “organised mess”. Creating a team event out of desk clean-ups will help your team to feel motivated in maintaining a tidy office environment. These team orientated events can be weekly or monthly! It also means for those that use office cleaning providers, their operatives will be able to clean all surfaces without touching or moving paper work.

Organisation is key and by understanding your employees desk functionality a stationary list can be created for new items. Purchasing paper trays, baskets or filing units will help your company’s organisation be more effective long term. We have all fallen victim to shoving paper work in our desk draws and struggled to find it at a later date when it really matters.

Helping your employees to feel motivated and in control of their work load will help their productivity. With deadlines becoming increasingly short, the tidiness of your employee’s office desks will make a real impact.

 

 

3. The act of cleaning

We recommend, where available, you use a professional office cleaning provider. This means the stress and hassle of continually managing cleaning activities can be passed on to a company that specialises in contracted cleaning. No longer will you have to stress over organising window cleaning, periodic carpet cleaning or juggling the annoyance of simple tasks not being done like bins being emptied.

 

Spring cleaning from a contracted office cleaning service provider:

  • On top of your employees managing their own desk organisation, service providers will be able to truly clean the nitty gritty. Technology specific cleaning materials are used that will sanitise everything from your phone to computer keyboard without leaving annoying streaks on desktop screens.
  • Carpets and hard floors will often be marked with stains from shoes and inevitable spillages of tea and coffee. Periodic cleaning means creating a longer lifespan for your floors. Depending on the pile of your carpet or hard floor material, time effective technology and man power will be used so your office faces minimal room down time.  This creates fresh and clean flooring for everybody to enjoy.
  • Kitchen areas are prone to high levels of bacteria. Read our blog here to learn about hidden germs! Having a dedicated cleaner will mean all areas of your kitchen will be spotless. Fridge clean outs will happen, all surfaces and appliances are cleaned and disinfected. Coffee mugs will be washed ready for the next day. An added bonus is that properly disinfecting these high footfall areas can actually reduce cross contamination and employee sick days.
  • We mentioned above the importance of properly recycling your waste. Spring cleaning offers the perfect opportunity to kick start this plan. Having a streamlined waste management process is not only good (and crucial in today’s climate) for the environment but also for your corporate social responsibility. Your company will be setting a standard for its focus on becoming more eco-friendly!

Our list of key points does not mean that you need to employ a contracted service to ensure the above are always completed and maintained. Management processes are key with keeping your office environment hygienic. Keeping on top of these and having your employees actively involved in the organisation of your office will really help.

Let us know by leaving a comment if our tips helped your office, or if you have any other points we missed that you think are important for a successful office spring clean.

If you want a professional service, why not give us a call?

School Cleaning and Absenteeism

school learning

School cleaning providers now face new challenges when servicing academic institutions; not only is there an on-going focus to create an engaging environment but also one that is hygienic. Cleaning providers to stand above competition, must now provide adequate solutions to overcome cross contamination of sickness within schools; specifically viral outbreaks.

OFSTED ratings and funding provided by local councils are now more so assessed on absenteeism rates. Therefore more than ever it is crucial that cleaning providers are integrating the wide range of innovative technology available to create school cleaning solutions that are both financially viable, but also positively assist schools in managing their non-attendance rates to prevent funding cuts.

Whether or not everybody agrees with the process in which OFSTED operates, their purpose is to ensure that all schools are providing exemplary services whilst delivering engaging curriculums in an environment that is stimulating and clean. For schools that are under achieving, OFSTED focuses attention on providing the required support to bring these schools to a suitable standard. Their independent evaluation enables parents to confidently determine whether a given school is one that will ensure their child has equal opportunities available to excel, whilst receiving any support required during terms times, to ensure the highest possible level of engagement and achievement.

OFSTED Ratings and Council Funding

One area that has been a focus for OFSTED is absenteeism. With headmasters prohibiting children being removed from school during term time without given permission. Parents who have failed to abide by these rules now face disciplinary action. It is evident that perhaps one reason for this, besides the obvious that children who are not present in school face academic challenges with teachers now having little time to recap on content that is missed. OFSTED as part of their comprehensive inspection include absenteeism rates as part of their determination of how responsive a school is in ensuring their pupils are adequately following the outlined curriculum.

OFSTED ratings also offer local councils a means of measurement to determine how much funding will be provided to a given school. A rather simple, yet questionably harsh rule is followed that schools will receive adequate funding for students that are registered in the classroom. Funding will not be given for students who are continually absent. With budget cuts occurring across all sectors, it is no surprise that the education system is suffering. Therefore, for a school to continue to receive sustainable funding from councils, to continue to attract parents and give reassurance in teaching quality, strict consideration must be taken when choosing a school cleaning provider. Costing is always a deciding factor therefore, providers must create true value for money in all contract quotes, value that is above only monetary terms.

Cross Contamination and Viral Outbreaks

Schools are a prime place for the harboring of bacteria and germs that cause flu and Norovirus outbreaks. The latest data on school absenteeism for the UK found that illness was the main driver of overall absence rates accounting for 55.3% between 2016/17. Reinforcement of hand-washing, proper hygiene and the use of disinfectant wipes can be used to provide assistance in preventing germs. However, with minimal guarantee that all students are following these protocols strictly, smarter cleaning solutions are needed.

We understand schools are under financial pressure to find cost effective and time efficient cleaning methods. Professional cleaning companies are now able to monopolise on the innovation led transition the industry is currently moving through. Focus has been placed on reducing labor hours and therefore cutting costs, whilst maximising return on investment with any machinery that is required. Furthermore, there is a just expectation that school cleaning providers must consult Facility Managers on what market leading initiatives are available outside of cleaning solutions to assist in management of viral outbreaks.

Abelian integrates innovative cleaning solutions which focus on cross contamination control. Examples of our methods are:

  • Antibacterial Door Handles: The covers very simply snap onto door handles, with universal sizes available, which kill 99.9% of bacteria. Viruses on door handles are able to spread within an hour throughout an entire building. The 6 month life span of these handles make them the perfect complimentary addition to sanitisation, proving to be a cost and time effective addition.
  • Electrostatic Spray Systems: this technology is capable of sanitising a room within minutes dependent on size and surface coverage. The spray technology creates a mist of sanitisation fluid, creating no damage to electrical equipment whilst offering 360 coverage of all surfaces and hard to reach areas with high levels of bacteria and virus causing pathogens. This method reduces labor hours and the number of cleaners needed for operation, as reflected in the contract price. Services with this technology are able to be carried out on a reactive basis or as a periodic scheduled action to reduce the risk of outbreaks and spreading of viral germs. Just think, this method takes only moments to sanitise toys, table tops, toilets and the surrounding room.
  • Biodegradable Cleaning Products: There are ongoing conversations regarding the need and use of toxic chemicals when cleaning environments where children play. Abelian is able to provide a comprehensive cleaning schedule that uses toxic chemical free cleaning agents. Not only reducing the risk to children should they come into contact with said non-toxic chemicals, whether by touching surfaces or within the air molecules, these methods also go towards helping schools to reduce their environmental impact.

Parents that seek to send their children to specific schools are those that are ensuring a safe environment for their children is being created and sustained. Attention is being paid to the methods of cleaning and the proactive approach a school has to ensure viral outbreaks are reduced so children aren’t retuning home ill and more crucially won’t need to be away from the classroom.  Likewise our methods are a sure way of, in terms of cleaning, ensuring that with regulatory inspections the cleanliness and appearance of the school will be expertly managed causing no risk to OFSTED ratings.

As an introductory offer Abelian are providing demonstrations to school Facility Managers, or those who take responsibility in finding school cleaning providers, enabling visual evidence of the impact and results our innovative methods have. We are also able to provide a complete cleaning quote for all services required inclusive of school cleaning, daily janitors, window cleaning, waste management and pest control. As now it is more important than ever that the right school cleaning provider is selected to assist in the management of sickness cross contamination.

5 top tips on how to improve your office air quality

We’re all aware of the negative implications pollution and poor air quality has upon us. Our health is continually and detrimentally affected by pollutants that cause increased rates and risks of asthma, respiratory and inflammatory disease. Risks do not stop there as evidence suggests these pollutants are a major cause of cancer, and heart disease – unfortunately for those currently suffering with a heart or lung condition their risk is amplified.

We know the government are attempting, some may argue not strongly enough, to reduce the level of emissions within London. Although it is evident such plans are failing to evoke enough change, Brixton Road has already breached the legal limit set by the European Union 18 times. Evidence suggests that Government compliance to ensure the levels of nitrogen dioxide fall within a safe limit will not be achieved until 2026. These are alarming facts that should, rightly so, leave us with a feeling of nervousness around our health when living in a city that still, even with charged improvements, relies so heavily on road transport.

Simple Changes Make a Real Impact

Clean air day reminded us that we can all implement simple changes in our everyday lives to help reduce the amount of air pollution we emit per person. We can opt to walk or cycle to work or leisure activities. If transportation is needed maximising the use of public transport, or car sharing with colleagues – not just saving the planet but creating opportunities to become more friendly with the people who work within our offices.

But what can we do when it comes to internal air pollution, and more specifically when it comes to the office environment?

Internal Air Quality

What is internal air quality? This refers to the level of air quality within an enclosed space, your office, and the amount of pollutants that impact the health and comfort of those working within this space.

Within the built environment, especially in London, offices very often don’t have the capacity to open windows to allow ventilation – cooling systems are often used in place. Although, with the facts available it is more than likely safer to actually keep windows shut when offices are located close to high road traffic areas.

There are various things Facility Managers can implement to ensure the air quality is at a level that is both safe and comfortable for all employees. We’ve listed below some of our top tips.

Our Top Tips to Make Sure Your Office Has Peak Internal Air Quality:

  • The importance of plants to act as natural filtration systems: As we mentioned previously some buildings don’t have the capacity to open windows, and those that are placed near busy roads will actually encourage pollutants to enter the office space when open – this is a big no, no for air quality. To overcome this ensuring the office has various plants that act as natural filters – ideally green leafy varieties should be favoured over flowering plants. It’s recommended for peak filtration one plant should be used per every 100 square feet to effectively impact air quality and remove toxins. Moreover there are numerous benefits to having these leafy friends dotted around the office. The most important being they are notorious for creating a calm and stress-free environment, increasing creativity and productivity.

Recommended plants to have within the office are: Spider Plants, Dracaena, Peace Lilies, Bamboo Palms and Aloe Vera.

  • Reduce the release of VOC’s in the office environment: VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), are emitted as gas from both solids and liquids into the air. Numerous products leak VOC’s, they are found in scented air fresheners, cleaning products and even furniture and floor coverings. It is obvious that removing all such products is impossible for a functional environment to be created. We suggest that where possible controls are put in place to limit the number of VOC’s made available within the office environment.VOC’s act as irritants to the eyes, nose and throat and can lead to frequent headaches or fatigue in those who are continually exposed. This problem is maximised if an efficient air filtration system isn’t available and traditional ventilation by opening a window isn’t possible. Your employee health is a gauge to access the quality of your air, if continual headaches and fatigue is being expressed a red flag should be raised.Facility managers can help to monitor the release of VOC’s by reducing the number of scented fresheners used within the room. Ensuring any filtration system in place is regularly cleaned and filtration parts are replaced to prevent dust build up, and the removal of pathogens or moulds that build up within the filtration system.When choosing an office cleaning provider selecting those, like Abelian, that has a full range of toxic chemical free and biodegradable product range available is so important. By facilitating this cleaning approach VOC levels within the environment are reduced and managed to safeguard your employees. Environmental impact is also minimised, creating a win-win situation.

Effective and regular office cleaning: As mentioned above when choosing a cleaning provider attention must be paid to the cleaning product range. However this isn’t the entire solution to increasing the air quality within your office space – the cleaning schedule is imperative to creating peak hygiene and reduce the cross contamination of pathogens.

Carpets are a hub for pathogen and bacterial growth, whilst absorptive hard floors further create a safe haven for optimum growth. Mould, dust and bacteria are able to easily grow and spread in spaces that don’t receive adequate cleaning. Or when cleaning is carried out in a way that merely moves rather than removes these build ups.

There are predictable times throughout the year when viral outbreaks are considerably more likely to affect all office environments. Offices that do not have a reactive system in place to sanitise and disinfect all surfaces within the office increase their risk of employee absenteeism. Abelian builds into all of their contracts a reactive system that ensures your office isn’t detrimentally affected by seasonal viral outbreaks, with time and cost effective solutions.

Employing solutions that effectively remove the effects of dust build ups, regular cleaning of surfaces, emptying of bins and cleaning of kitchen areas all go towards reducing the number of airborne bacteria and pathogens will directly impact the quality of your office air.

  • COSHH and hazardous exposure: COSHH is in place to ensure that all handles of substances and are following the right guidelines in control of hazardous substances that can have a detrimental impact on health. When the option to use biodegradable cleaning products hasn’t been chosen is it so important that your cleaning provider effectively manages the internal level of hazardous substances. These substances come in many different forms: dust, chemicals, gases, vapours and mists – the list is not exclusive to those mentioned.At Abelian we follow the guidelines set out by the COSHH training and therefore are able to successfully determine if there is any exposure risk and know what measures we can put in place to safeguard against this. Being educated with practical knowledge and understanding means all of Abelian’s cleaning team are able to guarantee internal air quality is not masked by high levels of dangerous chemicals or dust. Furthermore, the storage and usage of cleaning products is done in a way that poses no hazardous dangers to both our cleaners and our client’s employees.
  • Moisture and damp control: With poor ventilation in offices moisture and dampness can create a breeding ground for the mould, dust mites and the bacteria we’ve spoke of in the previous sections. Those with a predisposition to asthma are greatly affected but also are those with weakened immune systems and suffer with skin problems. Irritants and toxins are often by products of high levels of these unwanted additions. It doesn’t sound like the healthy nor creative office environment you want does it?Humidity can come from multiple causes, the most often being due to water leakages from pipes or exterior penetration, new built environments where internal water has yet to dry or, from condensation where ventilation is lacking. It is recommended room humidity should be between 30-50%.There are numerous cost effective solutions that can be put in place to reduce an offices risk of damp and also prevent the air becoming too dry and leaving employees with sore heads and irritable eyes.  Drip pans, air ducts and vents must not only be installed but also cleaned and emptied regularly to ensure no bacteria or mould / mildew build up occurs – keeping air quality at a peak. Opening windows merely ajar can be enough to discourage condensation requiring only a 30 minutes max to take effect. Temperature control of a room will assist in preventing dryness within the air and the irritants mentioned. When air filtration systems are used once again it is crucial that theses are maintained and cleaner periodically to prevent pollutants being re-filtrated into the room.

Find out why Quality Management Systems are so important!

Quality Management Systems

Quality management systems (QMS) is an umbrella term that labels systems used by our Account Managers to manage our cleaning contracts. The systems enable regular audits to be performed,  stock ordering remotely from the contract location, report and track changes in cleaning methods as well as keeping check of our cleaners time and attendance.

QMS are put in place to create flexibility within service agreements; we continuously track all areas of a service delivery. This makes us accountable and proactive in ensuring we deliver the  cleaning service required by all of our customers. Audits use a simple yet effective traffic light colour coding system. We’re totally transparent about the outcomes of audits, allowing you access to your reports at any time. We rely on scheduled monthly meetings with all customers to builds transparency in our working relationship. It means out customers can give us feedback, we can understand any changing needs of your facility and adapt our solutions as required.

Our commitment to using QMS has enabled us to be awarded the ISO 9001:2015 accreditation; to read about the accreditation’s Abelian has been awarded see here.

 

How do our Auditing Processes work?

A dedicated Account Manager will be assigned to manage your site and act as a direct point of contact should you have any service questions. Their attention is focused on ensuring our cleaners are completing their cleaning duties to the highest possible standard. Account Managers carry out spontaneous site visits so they can see exactly how our cleaners are performing.

Audits are performed on hand held mobile devices. We’ll walk around and assess whether the cleaning standard is being delivered with the correct equipment, cleaning solutions and technique. Scores are given based on:

  • Red- requires immediate attention, a service failure has occurred
  • Amber – improvement is needed through small tweaks, perhaps additional training or refocusing of cleaners
  • Green – we’re delivering to the standard required

We use the service level agreement, where KPI’s are outlined, as the baseline for measuring our service. Where red or amber scores are recorded we’ll take photographs of the problem and make notes stored within the software. We’ll use these notes in meetings with you when we outline what our plan for progress.

Through the QMS, progress can be tracked at every step guaranteeing a rapid response to all raised concerns. Within this we will also address areas where we can to ensure a score never slips from an amber in to a green, or a green into amber. Our proactive approach means we aren’t reactive in our management. We monitor continuously and are hands-on which allows us to be proactive in preventing shortcomings. Cleaning managed through reactive approaches always guarantees unsatisfied customers.

Your assigned Account Manager will schedule, when you are free, monthly cleaning reviews. These reviews aren’t typically negative – we believe continual and regular contact puts us in a position to tackle problems head on, or report back positive comments to our cleaners. As with anything, positive feedback only encourages everyone to work harder and feel valued.  Risk assessments and service reviews and audits are all signed off when meetings have happened, and most importantly, when you’re happy.

QMS software also allows costing’s and contract details to be requested and downloaded at any time.  Everyone responsible through our company structure and management of your facility has access. This support network means each contract has access points for managerial staff so no process is ever under-managed.

Ordering consumables is imperative to the smooth running of your site whether its consumables, cleaning solutions or machinery. QMS allows your site manager to order various items at any point, from any location. The paper free process means document filing isn’t needed helping us to remain environmentally conscious.

 

Time and Attendance Systems (TAS)

Often when we speak to prospective clients we are told of the frustration faced when cleaners fail to turn up on time for their shift. Not to mention the lack of management in place to guarantee working hours are being completed. When employing a company to manage your cleaning solutions, factors associated with shift patterns and pay are not matters you as the client should be handling.

At Abelian, we implement a Time and Attendance system to overcome these mentioned issues. This allows us to track and monitor the work patterns of our cleaners. The system, much like the above mentioned, is incredibly simple to install, needing only a freephone telephone number. Cleaning operatives call to sign in and out at the beginning and end of their shift. Each cleaning operative will be given a unique pin number to ensure accurate recordings of their shift patterns and locations are taken.

All attendance patterns are immediately logged and made easily available to the Account Manager. This allows your Account Manager to address any staffing issues in real time and activate our staff contingency plan where necessary. Staff contingency plans are in place should a no-show at our customer’s sites occur. Alerts are sent to management and a cleaner is put on site immediately. We manage this process to reduce any impact on your site and ensure the cleaning is always completed. Our mobile cleaning teams can also be used to cover holiday shifts allowing us to use our resources when required.

Our cleaning operatives are fundamental to the success of Abelian, ensuring they are respected and are able to work safely is incredibly important to us. In the unlikely event that a problem on site occurs when lone workers are cleaning the Time and Attendance system allows us to identify each operative. An alert is also sent when a cleaner has failed to log out of their shift. This allows us to be accountable for all cleaning operatives across all of our sites, especially those that work remotely or alone.

 

Adding True Value to Cleaning

There are multiple benefits to these systems which allow us to add value to our customer’s contracts. All systems are synced with our head office records which means any documentation can be accessed at any point and downloaded by yourself or managers dealing with your cleaning contract.

Auditing processes also ensure that staff and resources are managed effectively. This means that we control spend available within your budget to be used most cost effectively. We maximise the use of resources and implement productive cleaning solutions. We always aim to build in cost savings where we can in our competitively priced fixed contracts.

As all cleaning operatives are logged within our QMS, and upon registration, their records are made easily accessible. On issue of ID badges and uniforms, you will have a clear knowledge of who is working for Abelian and providing you with the cleaning standards you deserve. This visibility means we are again accountable for the safety of everyone that works or uses your facility. This coupled with DBs checking creates secure and safe environments for everyone.

 

Do you know where the dirtiest spots are in your office??

What are the dirtiest spots in your office?

You may or may not have seen the study by Kimberley-Clark professional that looked into locating the dirtiest spots in an office. We thought it would be a good reminder for those who have, and enlightening to those that have yet to learn where these hot-spots of grime are.

Exposure to germs within the office isn’t always dangerous, however poorly sanitised rooms can lead to cross infection of viruses. We all know it’s in a company’s best interest to keep their employees both happy, and healthy.

If you were asked the question, “where are the dirtiest places in the office?”

You wouldn’t be stupid if your immediate answer was the bathroom. Or more specifically the bathroom door handles, perhaps?

However, this isn’t as accurate as you might think – which is slightly unnerving. According to the research published, there are a number of places far worse than the bathrooms and used far more regularly.

The research was carried out using swabs and samples taken from almost 5,000 surfaces in office buildings where around 3,000 employees worked. These offices were commercial, law, media and recruitment.

All swabs were tested for their concentration of ATP; an energy molecule that enables all living things to survive. Food residue, also known as organic matter, often has high concentrations of ATP molecules. This provides the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to breed and potentially lead to office viral outbreaks. The ATP concentration acts as a solid predictor for the level of bacteria or germs growing within the same area. Even if viral outbreaks don’t occur from these dirty spots, it’s still not a healthy environment for employee motivation and productivity.

Rankings for the level of dirt are as follows:

  • 100+ ATP molecules signify a wipe down is definitely required.
  • 300+ ATP molecules on a surface, it is classified as dirty and requires a more focused cleaning approach.

The study found these areas below received readings of 300 or more making them officially dirty:

  • 75% of break room sink-facet handles
  • 48% of microwave door handles
  • 27% of keyboards
  • 26% of refrigerator door handles
  • 23% of water fountain buttons
  • 21% of vending machine buttons

There were still a number of places that earned the reading of could-be-cleaner

  • 91% of break room sink-faucet handles
  • 80% microwave door handles
  • 69% keyboards
  • 69% refrigerator door handles
  • 53% of water fountain buttons
  • 51% computer mice
  • 51% desk phones
  • 48% coffee pots and dispensers
  • 43% of vending machine buttons

So the places we thought there would be no need to worry about, or didn’t even come into consideration, actually require a lot more attention. Cross contamination of bacterial and viral pathogens poses a real risk when harboring around areas like water stations and microwave handles. These stations are areas of high usage by all members of the office.

If you notice your current cleaning provider is merely wiping surfaces, or spot cleaning, perhaps reconsideration is needed? Office Cleaning isn’t just about ensuring the office looks and smells nice. It’s about effectively employing solutions that focus on all areas and surfaces within an environment. Cleaning hours allocated should be used effectively to sanitise areas that aren’t typically thought of – as we’ve seen with this study.

Area Managers that oversee, motivate and train cleaners so they are always meeting their targets is key! Looking beyond the polished glass and smell of citrus, your cleaning team needs to be going the extra mile daily, and not missing out these not-so-hard to reach areas.

Prior to signing a cleaning contract with a commercial cleaning provider be sure to have these requirements considered in the cleaning schedule! Have them documented so you know exactly when they will be tended to i.e. daily, weekly or monthly. Get to know what you’re paying for, that way you can ensure a hygienic environment is created, and water station germs will be a thing of the past!