Meeting the challenge

John Shonfeld, Master of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners, discusses real sustainability for the cleaning industry, and meeting the challenges of the pandemic.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been rising pressures to preserve our businesses, to keep our built environment virus free, and uncertainty as to how our sector will adapt to the ‘new normal’.

We should not lose sight of the fact that our ongoing development depends on

a thoroughly sustainable approach, not just in terms of environmentally friendly practices, but a holistic strategy to maintain a productive and prosperous existence.


Every single sector in the global economy is going to have to rethink training as a key asset under current and post- pandemic conditions. The same applies to the cleaning industry as we can't afford to drop the ball on keeping our staff apprised of new technologies, methodologies, tools and cleaning materials. As building use and occupancy are likely to change in the long term, we have to factor that in as well: this means re-examining our procurement strategies, staffing, and offerings.

I believe that cleaning companies will have to diversify to survive in this challenging economic climate. The need for training will increase in order to deliver a more varied

24 | FEATURE service under the cleaning company umbrella.

The design of ‘intelligent’ buildings using more unique materials and finishes has not gone away either. If anything, as the built environment evolves, we will definitely have to evolve with it. Building design is a conversation that the cleaning industry should be involved with, as architecture becomes more complex, finished with more unique materials and cutting-edge technology. As an industry, we need to understand how to maintain these spaces and their ever-changing features.


Going forward, I believe that the key to success will be in knowing how to work smarter rather than harder. Technological advances in the cleaning industry mean that there are more efficient tools and machinery available to achieve a deeper clean in less time. Staff training has got to be an ongoing process in order to keep up with the new technology available.

Consider, for example, the more commonly seen floor cleaning machines that have the ability to clean, extract and separate wastewater, whilst delivering the exact amount of cleaning chemicals required for the perfect finish. It’s efficient and exact, but requires an understanding of how to use the machinery and accompanying chemicals properly.

There is still a need for direct manual cleaning, and even this has benefited from the availability of efficient tools.

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