But for most employees, the Great Migration is underway, as companies attempt to return to some sort of normalcy, even as coronavirus cases surge throughout the South and Southwestern US.
Although observers insist that Work From Home is here to stay, most people will eventually make their way back to the office. But what will conditions be like when they return? For starters, expect to see hand sanitizer stations everywhere and disinfecting products front and center. No wonder then, that CloroxPro has done a brisk business since the pandemic gripped the US.
"Starting in February, almost overnight, demand surged to 500% for some of Clorox’s disinfecting products. This is unprecedented for us or any consumer goods company,” explained Lynda Lurie, senior marketing director, CloroxPro. “As a company, we are focused on doing everything feasible to maximize the supply of disinfecting products to serve consumers, healthcare workers and our communities in the face of demand like we have never seen.”
To increase capacity, CloroxPro quickly took a number of steps: running cleaning and disinfecting product plants 24/7; re-focusing plants on manufacturing disinfecting products that can be supplied most quickly; and accessing additional 3rd party supply.
Now as facilities reopen, company executives expect to see demand continue for all all CloroxPro disinfectants that are eligible for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 under the EPA’s Emerging Viral Pathogen Guidance. According to Lurie, the Clorox Total 360 System, which pairs electrostatic technology with a portfolio of Clorox disinfectants and sanitizers, is also in demand as facilities look to save time and money while ensuring all surfaces, even hard-to-reach, difficult-to-clean areas, are properly treated. Electrostatic technology enables the disinfectants and sanitizers to reach the sides, underside and backside of surfaces, which can often be missed with conventional spray and wipe methods, she explained.
Lurie noted that as states continue to reopen their economies, many customers are concerned about how to reopen their facilities in a safe way that best protects their patrons, staff or students.
“We have created guides to help facility managers ensure they are following proper infection prevention protocols ahead of reopening and into the future,” she said. “You can find the guides for long-term care facilities, workplaces and schools on the CloroxPro website.”
For additional coronavirus resources, visit the CloroxPro COVID-19 Resource Center.
As employees return to the office, so too are they returning to restaurants, airports and hotels. To help people feel safer when they leave their homes, Clorox is partnering with some of America’s leading companies across the entertainment, travel and transportation sectors to develop healthcare-quality disinfection protocols and training for the health and wellbeing of employees and customers. In fact, Clorox recently announced partnerships with United, Uber and AMC Theatres.
As facilities reopen, Clorox urges facility managers to establish clear and robust policies and procedures to maintain a high-quality cleaning and disinfecting program. This includes a written cleaning program policy with detailed everyday preventative procedures, as well as a separate outbreak preparedness procedure that includes details on the microbial threat and how it is spread, helping employees understand how to identify the signs and symptoms of the illness of concern, knowing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear, and additional changes such as products used, frequency of cleaning and disinfecting, or the surfaces that should be disinfected. And, of course, training for cleaning staff on both everyday cleaning and disinfecting procedures and outbreak preparedness.
“From the viewpoint of site managers, it almost certainly has brought a lot of new attention to their cleaning programs. It shows how crucial it is to have a process in place, and an increased scrutiny on cleaning as a function of public health moving forward,” explained Ben Walker, chief strategy officer, ManageMen, Inc. “What that means for professional cleaning managers is that they will have to have a well-defined, quantifiable operation that cleans with facility staff and patrons in mind. For that to happen, cleaning will need to encompass a holistic approach—one that not only emphasizes removal of visible soils, but also the killing of pathogenic microorganisms, the removal dust, allergens, fungal spores and lung-damaging particles.”
For over 20 years, Walker has provided consulting and education services to help new and established custodial operations of all sizes and across many verticals sustainably and successfully run cleaning operations. ManageMen’s Operating System 1 cleaning program focuses on improving safety, reducing waste, improving overall cleanliness, and empowering frontline custodial workers. OS1 is billed as a standardized, evidence-based program built on lean principals, and leverages the popular Cleaning Times, a reference for cleaning production rates that Walker compiles himself.
Don’t Try, Do
The hospitality industry is attempting a comeback from the devastating economic effects of the pandemic—about 80% of hotel rooms in the US were empty in April, according to a study by STR, a firm that analyzes industry data. To get convince consumers to get out on the road again, many lodging chains are rolling out new procedures, posting signage and ensuring that things like wipes are available in every room.
“Procedures are good, but it’s just as important to ensure cleaning staff are properly trained in order to follow them. It’s a great first step to create these materials to show patrons what the facility is doing to help keep them safe from COVID-19, but hospitality companies must also invest in education and training simultaneously,” insisted Walker. “Despite a decrease in sales for some hotels, it is more important than ever before to allocate a higher percentage of their budget toward proper cleaning and disinfecting, including training their staff properly.”
Prior to the pandemic, many hotel chains were cutting cleaning costs under the feel-good umbrella of “going green;” i.e., encouraging customers to forego up to three days of room cleaning in exchange for loyalty points. But Walker said the pandemic may have convinced those in the c-suite about the importance of cleaning to the bottom line.
“I truly hope the pandemic will change the traditional image of cleaning staff, and believe it already has,” he told Happi. “I hope this creates the opportunity for cleaning managers to lead the discussion instead having the discussion dictated to them. We should never marginalize cleaning staff and their work during this pandemic has shown how essential they are to all of our everyday lives.”
The Cost of Clean
If Walker is right, there should be an increase in housekeeping budgets. He noted that cleaning budgets are built on a relatively simple formula based upon cleanable square footage (horizontal space), fixture counts (sink, toilet, urinal, shower head) for restrooms and standardized daily, weekly and monthly project tasks.
“The supply budget stays fairly static, but the operational budget for cleaning has historically been one of the first things to get cut. We’ve been on a downward trend since 2008 to cut costs but maintain the same level of cleaning output—if not increase it,” he told Happi. “This certainly galvanizes the need to protect the cleaning budget, but the trick is defining that spend. About 90% of that spend is usually geared toward labor and it’s very difficult to find a standardized cleaning methodology in most large cleaning operations.”
Walker noted that cleaning budgets usually allocate about 5% for cleaning products and about 5% for consumables, such as soap, toilet paper and paper towels. The emphasis is currently on remediation— and sometimes these funds come out of an emergency budget or are paid by insurance.
“If we’re successful at drawing emphasis away from products and focusing on the entire cleaning process, that’s where the money will go,” he predicted. “Supporting the process includes a focus on management, training, education and hopefully, someday, certification that elevates the profession.”
Elevating the cleaning profession should be easier at a time when the stakes couldn’t be higher for the hospitality industry.