The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning magazines. You can read November’s columns below.
To read the columns as the originally appeared, please visit https://cleaningmag.com/issues and https://www.tomorrowscleaning.com/back-issues-2020
Coronavirus drives huge changes within the cleaning and hygiene sector
By Paul Thrupp, Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC)
(This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in November)
The Coronavirus pandemic is driving huge changes within the cleaning and hygiene sector, as it is with many other parts of the UK’s economy and the BCC recently conducted a major survey of our members to assess the impact of this virus on the industry.
Most of the members who responded talked about the unpredictable, rapid, and substantial changes the virus had brought to our sector.
An example of change has been to the structure of the industry. Manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene products for the catering, leisure and hospitality industries saw demand collapse following the lockdown, whereas makers of products such as hand-sanitiser and PPE had to work flat out to meet soaring customer demand.
Cleaning operatives and their managers in hotels suffered as most establishments closed.
In the contract cleaning sector, many offices and other premises have been closed either temporarily or permanently, putting at risk the jobs of contractors who cleaned them.
Other clients are changing their requirements on an almost daily basis, meaning suppliers and cleaning operatives have to be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing demands and schedules.
This brings me on to another change in the industry. The roles of cleaning operatives throughout the industry have changed as they prove themselves willing to adapt to the ‘new normal’ brought on by Coronavirus.
For example, cleaning operatives in hospitals, GP clinics and surgeries, nursing and care homes have worked longer hours, taken on extra responsibilities and adopted new standards and practices in order to protect patients, fellow staff and the public.
Many are now supporting and staffing the Nightingale Hospitals which look set to be so important over the coming months.
The nation’s cleaning and hygiene operatives have responded magnificently during this crisis, doing vital work to protect the health and well-being of others and keep key industries going.
Many do this despite risking exposure to Coronavirus when they travel to work on public transport, when they mix with other people in their workplaces or when they clean up the virus itself. Praise for the role of ordinary cleaning operatives was a key theme that came out of our survey of the industry. We simply cannot thank them enough.
The pandemic is also driving change in another area of the industry – innovation. We are seeing a faster rate of innovation at the moment than I have ever seen in the past.
New products, new processes and new technologies are being brought to the market at a rate of knots to meet the demand for protection against this new threat. One such area is the field of robotics, which my colleague, BCC Deputy Chairman Jim Melvin, highlighted in his Tomorrow’s Cleaning column last month.
Another major change driven by Coronavirus is the demand for higher standards of cleaning and hygiene in all walks of life.
The spotlight is now on cleaning and hygiene in a way that it was not, just six months ago. Businesses and organisations are investing in cleaning and hygiene so that people have the confidence to return to our public spaces.
The nation has learnt a lesson about the importance of cleaning and hygiene which, I think, will keep it at the top of the agenda for the long-term.
That in turn means that, although our survey has revealed that conditions are currently challenging for some parts of the cleaning and hygiene sector, once this tragic pandemic is over the outlook should be much more positive.
The UK and its economy need the cleaning industry like never before. The industry is a major contributor to the UK economy in normal times, worth over £54 billion per annum and employing 1.63 million people. On behalf of the BCC, I want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who works in our fantastic industry.
Choosing your ‘new normal’ – the BPCA reflects on lockdown
By British Pest Control Association (BPCA) Chief Exec, Ian Andrew
(This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in November)
There is no map for what organisations are facing at the moment because none of us has been through anything similar in our working careers.
Like most businesses, we went into lockdown almost overnight. At BPCA, we’re a small team but that doesn’t lessen the logistical issues we had to overcome. Getting all the right kit to the right people, so that everything worked as it did when we were sitting in the office was no small task.
DAY JOB? WHAT DAY JOB?
We then had an overload of Government information we had to sift and sort in a manner that worked for members. At the same time, we had to get our public affairs work from 0-to-60 due to our initial lack of inclusion in the key worker categories.
It was a game of two quite different halves as the comms team were rushed off their feet with updates, guidance and letters to elected members in Westminster and the devolved governments.
Our technical team was swamped with members seeking advice on whether they could continue working, how they could work safely and what risk assessments they should undertake.
We completed a digital transformation of our training offering in four months. We launched digital classroom courses, e-learning packages and online qualifications.
The important thing is getting back to business – even if this is not getting back to normal. But it’s not just about doing what we did before. There is duplication in workload to cover off contingencies.
CHANGE FOR THE WORSE
Looking more generally at some of the unintended consequences of lockdown, some of these features we need to ensure don’t remain in the new normal.
The boundaries of work/life balance have blurred and there has been a near expectation of availability beyond the typical working hours. That’s not good for people’s wellbeing.
How many of us have been answering emails and texts, posting on social media while participating in a Zoom meeting? We have all spent longer staring at screens, often ignoring good practice. This isn’t sustainable in the long term.
Consultation has at times gone out the window because we had to be fleet of foot. That’s OK in a crisis. While agility is good, the checks and balances of governance are also good!
Trade associations will go down one of three routes. Some will disappear or merge. Some have gone into hibernation. Others, including BPCA, have been busier than ever.
We had corners to fight for our members; our sector being recognised as essential and our workers being recognised as key. Being the voice of our members in the sector and beyond has helped prove our worth during this crisis. That, alongside all the guidance and support we’ve provided, has hopefully been of value.
Having a voice is vital for all our engagement with Governments. Whether that’s the ongoing efforts to avoid a ban of glueboards in Scotland or the issues over bird licensing generally across Westminster and the devolved nations.
We have a lot more still to offer. Our investment in delivering services digitally has been significant. Making as much as possible accessible online will continue. Additionally, we’ll shortly launch a new suite of updated codes and guidance documents.
What makes all this happen? Our members. Our main sources of income are our member subscriptions, the revenue from our training courses, qualifications and our events. Members are what being a trade association is all about. Our members share their ideas and guide our decisions.
There is much to reflect on, some of it positive, some less so and some we hope we never have to repeat again!