Rising to the challenge

Jim Melvin, Deputy Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC), and Group CEO of Exclusive Contract Services, explains how contract cleaners rose to combat the Coronavirus.

Like the rest of the UK’s economy, cleaning contractors and staff have been understandably rocked by the impact of Coronavirus and, in my own opinion, reacted extremely well.

Our cleaning and hygiene operatives have faced an unbelievably difficult and fearful time, responding both bravely and magnificently.

As a people industry, the priority across the sector during this unprecedented pandemic has been to support, train and protect our teams in order to be in a position to successfully assist our clients.

In very difficult circumstances for our supply chain, staff have generally received the correct levels of PPE throughout the crisis and companies have ensured teams followed the correct procedures throughout, whilst both advice and instructions changed frequently.

Good internal communications have been key throughout and have been deployed by cleaning companies across the sector.

At Exclusive, for example, we introduced Zoom coffee breaks and daily team catch ups, quizzes, racing and photography events, virtual wine tasting sessions, staff thank you videos, special awards and other initiatives to support morale.

Cleaning operatives throughout the sector are being asked to focus on new tasks while needing to be satisfied that their safety and wellbeing is protected which demands information, advice and training as the morale and wellbeing of operatives remains a fundamental consideration. It is primary in my view to be able to demonstrate staff help and assistance quickly where required.

Concerns raised by colleagues included being stopped by the police on their way to work early/late at night. In response, we issued letters from the company and clients to show officers if required, which they were.

Regular weekly and monthly communication with staff has resulted in furloughed colleagues being more informed and willing to return to work when asked, though some have been understandably nervous.

Another significant challenge cleaning contractors have faced has been being agile to meet the changing needs of clients. Clients want to do the best they can, accepting they have the same financial and people issues. We are seeing clients revise, change and improve specifications for cleaning operatives to complete additional or focused tasks, such as ensuring touchpoints are clean, employing


additional numbers of day staff and, in certain sectors, providing 24-hour cleaning.

A significant number of clients have also committed to incumbent suppliers for an extended contract period, which I hope is recognition of the excellent job contractors and staff have done.

Nevertheless, the future is uncertain with the economy in severe difficulty. Whilst clients and companies will have contingency plans, many workplaces are closed or have a reduced workforce within buildings which obviously impacts on the demand for our services.

Many staff in the sector are furloughed until the end of October and it remains to be seen what happens when the Job Retention Scheme ends. I sadly don’t believe that the new £1k Retention Bonus will make the difference that we had hoped.

However, I do think in the longer term, the future for the cleaning and hygiene sector will be positive. As a result of this horrible, indiscriminate pandemic, more people openly recognise how important professional cleaning and hygiene is.

In tragic circumstances, the industry has never had a better opportunity to showcase that it is well-managed and well-operated, with cleaning operatives who care about their work. Staff have evidenced this every day during the crisis, with operatives having been praised by the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and other politicians and celebrities. It’s been both deserved and welcomed as a start point.

Through associations such as the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) and the BCC, the industry continues to seek recognition from Government and to drive the further development and knowledge of cleaning operatives. This will be vital as the economy recovers.

I sincerely hope that the demand for cleaning and hygiene services will strengthen as I genuinely believe that people will remember how we behaved throughout this crisis.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78