The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the cleaning industry, with stringent hygiene regulations, risk reduction and sky-high client expectations amongst the many demands now facing cleaning businesses. Technology will be central to ensuring safe service delivery in a post-COVID world.
As the UK begins to settle back into some sort of routine following the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a continued daily reminder life will never be the same. Instead, we face ‘the new normal’, adapting our lives to deal with the risk of the virus and the unfamiliar scenarios it has brought with it.
On 17th February 2020, the British Cleaning Council gave a statement about coronavirus and how employers and staff should remain vigilant during the outbreak. Less than 4 weeks later, the UK went into lockdown. As buildings throughout the country shut, the majority of the 1.63 million workers in the cleaning sector joined the waiting game for the announcement to return to work. This closure saw one of the hardest impacts on the sector in years, with some losing up to three-quarters of their business. As thousands of offices, schools and pubs shut their doors, the need for cleaning also temporarily stopped.
In June 2020 came the announcement the sector had been waiting for, the opportunity to return to work, with the need to disinfect, clean and improve hygiene throughout public areas of the highest importance. The recognised need to meet these new standards led to a considerable leap forward in the role technology has within the sector. Alongside many other industries, the cleaning sector has seen an almost complete acceptance and adoption of digital solutions overnight.
Within the space of a few months we have witnessed the introduction of robotic cleaning stations in airports and flying drones being used to spray chemicals to disinfect surfaces in large venues such as stadiums and public transport hubs. On a smaller scale, COVID-19 has accelerated the use of the internet of things (IoT) in office cleaning and publicly accessed areas, for example soap dispensers that ensure people wash their hands according to World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
The change has not only affected the methods of how cleaning is conducted, providers throughout the UK are now utilising digital workforce management solutions, such as Unique IQ’s IQ:timecard, to share timesheets, tasks and data from remote office workers to field staff via the internet and mobile apps. Through replacing paper processes, not only is the risk of a touchpoint removed, the data shared is more accurate, reliable, and quicker to access, helping to meet regulatory standards and evidence service delivery in a more efficient and effective manner.
From introducing mandatory tasks that can be ticked-off, date stamped and pushed directly to the office, to taking photographs of surfaces or stock such as alcohol hand gels, in utilising a mobile app it becomes easier to track and provide evidence of what cleaning has been undertaken, in some cases in real-time.
As people begin their return to work and more office buildings begin to reopen, the use of technology will not be lost; too many of us are now settled into this ‘new normal’ of instant communication and data transfer. Expectations of hygiene and standards of service delivery have also risen, and with the help of technology, are being actively met.
With the cleaning sector having one of the most influential positions within the current fight against coronavirus, technology has a key role to play in helping to achieve the ultimate goal of providing a safer environment for all.