The future of cleaning

Charlotte Parr, Director at Churchill, explores how the perception of cleaning has shifted throughout the pandemic and the new ways being used to manage cleaning and hygiene, including workplace hygiene programmes, and considers how cleaning will evolve.

The global pandemic has caused irreversible changes across every industry. Perhaps one of the most obvious is the shift in mindset regarding cleaning and hygiene. What was once a ‘behind the scenes’ role, only really noticed when it wasn’t done well, has been brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds.

The stark reality is that women are more likely to have quit or lost their jobs since the pandemic started and we have to think of the huge loss in experience and talent within all businesses. There’s never been a better moment for everyone to ask themselves what can be done to even this out.

Historically there’s undoubtedly a link between the low value that has traditionally been placed on ‘unskilled’ and ‘low-skilled’ roles and the fact that many of these jobs go unpaid in our own households. Women have long borne the majority of unpaid labour which, despite being vital to our economy, continues to go uncounted in statistics such as GDP. The global pandemic has started to change this as the lines blur between work and home and unpaid labour demands increase.

Bringing the importance of such work to the fore – both in commercial and domestic settings – will play an essential role in changing mindsets.

How has perception changed?

First impressions of places have always been important. Studies suggest that people form a first impression in only


seven seconds. Clean, well-presented spaces can define the relationship an organisation forms with a client from the first meeting.

This will be even more critical after the pandemic as we have, by necessity, become hyperaware of the cleanliness of our surroundings. Visitors to a building will pick up details that once seemed inconsequential. An open paper on a coffee table may mean that someone was sat in that area only moments ago. Has the area been sanitised since?

Cleaning will no longer be a ‘behind the scenes’ provision, both by necessity as regular cleaning throughout the day is implemented, and because it will reassure building users to see cleaning taking place throughout the day.

What does it mean for cleaning?

Cleaning practices themselves are changing in response to demand. While once building managers may have had little interest in the minutiae of surface disinfection or cleaning schedules, these processes can now mean the difference between business-as-usual and closing a building due to infection rates.

There’s been a lot of talk about processes such as deep cleaning, but in reality, this term is vague. Managers will want more detail to be reassured that cleaning procedures are as effective as possible and no corners are cut. The products and equipment used in the cleaning process may come under scrutiny but so will the skills and training of the cleaning providers themselves. Perhaps a better

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