Day Cleaning: It’s Time Has Come!

COVID-19 is rapidly changing the service delivery model for facilities management. One of the step-changes we have been consulted on is the benefits of transitioning to Day Cleaning. GSH Group’s Richard Hayes provides some practical advice in our latest installment.


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, progressive firms looking to reduce their energy costs, achieve CSR initiatives and gain greater control of their janitorial staff elected to perform daytime cleaning of their premises on a daily basis as opposed to traditional nighttime cleaning.  The introduction of the “hot desk” environment and communal workstations precipitated more aggressive daytime cleaning to assure employees a safe and healthy workplace.  The introduction of “quiet” vacuums combined with the alteration of shifts and scheduled activities have enabled these firms to achieve energy savings of up to 30% by shutting their premises down after normal working hours.  When combined with sustainable, green cleaning practices and products; these companies have made impressive strides in reducing their collective carbon footprints.  The recent pandemic has elicited further discussion around the merits of day cleaning.  As employees re-enter the workplace, they are requiring greater assurances that their employers have taken initiatives to provide a level of cleaning and disinfection consistent with regulatory best practices. Day cleaning provides visible evidence to the occupants that their workplace environment is being maintained while providing the added benefit of being sustainable.

Janitorial services are traditionally provided at night.  With the exception of day services for “high touch” areas, (bathrooms,breakrooms, etc.), daily activities such as dusting, vacuuming, trash collection and floor cleaning are disruptive to the workplace and were thought to be best performed during non-working hours…at night.  Periodic activities such as floor burnishing, high dusting, interior glass cleaning, etc. are also performed during off hours or weekends depending on their level of disrup-tion to the work environment.  Because the bulk of these services are performed at night, and not witnessed by the building occupants, it begs the question as to whether these services are being performed at all.  Every office has a story of an employee who has left an M&M or paper clip on the floor just waiting to see when it would be recognized and vacuumed.  The fact that these services are provided “under the cover of darkness” and “in the shadows” has often led to an element of distrust between the occupants and janitorial providers.  Day cleaning eliminates this conundrum and facilitates a more collaborative and inclusive environment for these essential service providers.  Employees are now able to witness the hard work and efforts of the cleaning staff and interact with them daily regarding the cleanliness of their workplace.  High touch areas, especially bathrooms, are barricaded during the day to provide routine maintenance.  Gender issues arise when a porter/matron is cleaning a bathroom for the opposite gender and, therefore, must prohibit entry until completed.  Day cleaning eliminates this problem because lavatory duties may be assigned based on gender.  Although there are many benefits in favor of day cleaning, a considerable change management process is required in order to assure a successful transition.  Senior stakeholder engagement and buy-in is required to ensure a successful implementation.

When considering a transition to day cleaning, it is important to work in collaboration with your service provider and/or landlord if they are providing base building services; most leases will include a clause regarding base building services provided.  Your service provider should be able to inform you of any union restrictions, real or perceived, which could preclude you from implementing a change.  Start off with a basic understanding of the current staffing requirements to service your space; your service provider should be transparent and provide this information upon request.  If in doubt, here are some commercially reasonable estimates you can use to ballpark your staffing needs: 

• Assume a 25% loss factor on your leased space; if you occupy 100k sq. ft. assume only 75,000 needs to be cleaned.

• Surfaces and floors can generally be cleaned at a rate of 4000 sq. ft. per hour when not occupied; for occupied space assume a rate of 3000 sq. ft. per hour.

• Bathroom labor should be calculated by the number of units (stalls, urinals, sinks) at a rate of 2 min./unit; a bathroom with 4 stalls, 2 urinals and 4 sinks (10 units) should take 20 minutes to refresh.

Other considerations need to be addressed for collecting trash, (wet, dry and recyclables), and can be estimated by utilizing a time/motion study. Hopefully, your organization has migrated to a centralized trash model which greatly reduces the labor hours required to haul trash.  Once your required day staffing is modeled and agreed upon, the next “heavy lift” is the change management required to integrate the day cleaners into your workplace routine.  Typically, the day cleaning staff would work on a split-shift with some staff starting prior to normal working hours to assure a safe, healthy and clean environment at the start of the workday.  Similarly, select staff would work slightly past normal work hours to assure that the premises are left in a state such that the morning crew can catch up. Dramatic energy savings are realized by “turning the office off” during non-business hours.  In many cases, staff reductions may be realized by uncovering activities which are no longer required and/or greater utilization of the dedicated day staff.

Once day cleaning is fully implemented, firms have found that the cleaning staff become valued members of their team because they now feel included in the day-to-day operations of the business.  As employees re-enter the workplace post COVID, the visible cleaning staff provide assurances that the work environment is safe, healthy and clean.  The janitorial staff have the benefit of being provided with a better quality of life by working during the day rather than on a night shift.  The bulk of the cleaning services are now being performed during normal business hours where there is oversight on cleaning performance and the peace of mind that the staff are fully utilized and performing their required assignments.  Although not feasible in all corporate environments, the benefits of day cleaning merit consideration.  As you refine your “return to work” plans, consider the benefits and assurances of incorporating day cleaning into your facility service operations.  The energy savings and potential staff reductions will be a welcomed commercial surprise with the added benefit of instilling confidence that your workplace is safe, healthy and contaminant free.