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 Special Report Workwear changes its style


Practical factors have always been at the forefront of developments in workwear, but this isn’t the only priority businessesmust consider. Other factors are stepping into the limelight, as the need to reflect professional- ismand brand identity across all areas steps up to a new level. Branding and appearance are rapidly becoming key factors when it comes to the uniforms worn by those in the cleaning industry. David Harmer, category manager at Alexandra, reports.


When choosing themost practical uniform for cleaners, it is important to first ac- knowledge the environment they will be working in and what dangerous conditions theymay be exposed to. These will be highly sector dependent and will also rest a lot on whether or not the operative holds a customer facing position. An industrial en- vironment, for example, will require clean- ers to wearmore hard-wearing garments, such as durable footwear and thicker, heavyweight fabrics, to protect themselves frompotential hazards. This is in contrast to the hospitality sector, where the number of different jobs one cleanermay have to fulfil creates a need for lightweight, adapt- able and less cumbersome clothing. As well as appearance and uniformprac-


ticality, other elements have a role to play. Increasingly, this is accompanied by wider purchasing considerations. Businesses must consider cost efficiency and the ability


Check point Continued fromPage 19.


of background checking is becoming in- creasingly popular.


Identity and financial checks


Lots of cleaning companies have started carrying out a combination of identity and financial checks on their operatives. An identity check will ensure that the cleaner is the person who they say they are and makes sure that they are not using any counterfeit documents – if a person is at- tempting to use a false identity, it is clear evidence of dishonesty. This identity checking is combined with a form of financial


Eamon Jubbawy.


checking to investigate whether a cleaner has a history of matters such as County Court Judgments (CCJs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or bankruptcies. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) conducted a study of staff fraud and dishonesty, and an analysis of past cases revealed a link between those who were suffering from financial difficulty or debts and those who committed acts of fraud. Due to the level of trust bestowed upon cleaners, occasions for


opportunistic thieving will be plentiful and so there is a risk that the temptation to steal could prove to be significant for an individ- ual who is in severe financial difficulties. However, it is certainly not the case that every person in financial difficulty will be more likely to steal. These checks are nonetheless useful because they will flag matters to be discussed with a potential recruit and ask- ing cleaners to disclose matters such as CCJs and bankruptcies gives an opportunity to demonstrate honesty. These checks, therefore, allow a company to advertise that all


their cleaners have been 'vetted' and can be trusted and so it is unsurprising that they are seeing increasing popularity within the cleaning sector. www.onfido.co.uk


30 l C&M l JUNE 2014 l www.cleaninghub.net


The relationship that exists between practicality and professional presentation in workwear design will continue to play an increasingly important role as businesses strive to deliver a fully-rounded service to both employees and customers.


to purchase a comprehensive set of uni- forms which cover all areas of the job from a single supplier


So, what’s changed?


The fabrics themselves that manufacturers use have remained constant and have not altered massively. Rather, developments have focused instead on existing fabrics and the features they exhibit. The combina- tion of polyester properties being used now means garments are easier to clean and more hard wearing. The incorporation of Teflon-coating to help with stain-resistance has made uniforms more efficient at deal- ing with unclean environments. Other de- velopments have included improving breathability and weight of fabrics to max- imise user comfort during arduous tasks. Beyond these initial practicalities, busi-


nesses are expanding the range of work- wear they use. In hospitality, for example, many businesses are recognising the value of tabards and overcoats, which minimise the impact of dirt. If worn over a uniform for particularly dirty tasks, these can easily be removed once a task is completed, leav- ing an unmarked uniform, which allows employees to continue with other jobs.


A key focus - branding


Furthermore, in certain sectors, particu- larly hospitality, managers are also recog- nising that there is a public-facing element to cleaning jobs, and this is having an im- pact on workwear choices. More than ever, cleaning staff are being recognised as an integral part of a brand, outwardly repre- senting a corporate identity to customers - be that in their own cleaning business or that of a wider business. Shifts in branding mean that many are


now favouring different coloured trims, but- tons, and patterned fabric to match a busi- ness’s own brand colours.


A key focus - colour


Traditionally, dark colours such as navy, grey and black were commonly adopted to prevent the obvious appearance of dust and dirt. An emphasis on colour is not only down to branding but a desire to incorpo- rate wider fashion trends into a business’s look. At Alexandra we have noticed the lines between beauty and hospitality work- wear have started to blur. Tunics often used by salons are now being favoured by clean- ing personnel - these being brighter colours such as purples, greens and or- anges. These developments are reflective of businesses considering how their work- ing wardrobe can complement contempo- rary styles and give them more of a competitive contemporary edge.


Nowadays it is far more commonplace for professionals to wear polo shirts or tunics, trousers and protective tabards.


The future


In the past, cleaning operatives in hospital- ity, particularly in housekeeping, wore tra- ditional dresses. Nowadays it is farmore commonplace for professionals to wear polo shirts or tunics, trousers and protec- tive tabards. Thismove away fromtradi- tional dresses has been promoted by an understanding of the need for uniforms to bemore practical and adaptable in re- sponse to themultiple tasks employees are required to carry out. The popularity of tabards, for example, illustrates this desire for adaptability as they are easy to take on and off, allowing operatives to continue with other aspects of their job while tabards are being washed. Looking ahead to the rest of the year,


predictions indicate that businesses ap- proach to cleaning workwear will continue to develop in line with these trends. Brand- ing considerations will strongly influence uniformdecisions, as the range of items and priorities that businesses are embrac- ing continues to adapt and grow. The rela- tionship that exists between practicality and professional presentation in workwear design will continue to play an increasingly important role as businesses strive to de- liver a fully-rounded service to both em- ployees and customers. www.alexandra.co.uk


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