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There have been many changes since I joined this industry 29 years ago. I'd say that those having had the most impact are automation - and particularly the Internet of Things; better training, which has led to greater professionalism; and now, thanks to Covid-19, improved knowledge amongst the general public, of the importance of good cleaning. When our first lockdown started just over a year ago, I wrote of my expectations that cleaning would soon be perceived to be more important and that the public would quickly gain more respect for those doing the work.
Thanks to my job, I'm always aware of cleaning, yet I was surprised at being involved in intense family discussions about which supermarkets appear to be the safest to visit because of what's been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Like everyone, I'm looking to see how clean an establishment is, but now it's not because I have an eye for a story but because my family's personal safety could potentially be seriously impacted if we make the wrong decision about where we shop.
Seeing the results of two surveys (featured below) this week, didn't have me surprised at how many people say the cleanliness of an establishment is now more important than it was a year ago, but how few. In one, taken in the UK, 88% want to see organisations implementing stringent hygiene regimes, but only 87% say the hygiene of places they visit is now more important to them than before the pandemic - I would have expected that to be nearer to 100% - but at least we're moving in the right direction. In another, 60% of North Americans say they'd take a pay cut to enjoy better workplace air quality and hygiene - a figure which I suppose depends on the disposable income and aspirations participants have, along with how dirty their current workplaces might be, (but either way, cleaning has taken on more importance for many of them).
I could always guarantee in the early days that a handful of my weekly pile of press releases would refer to a facility - and its level of cleaning - being a shop window for the business itself and while I could see that, I couldn't argue too much about cleaning schedules being loosened when budgets were tight. "Cleaning's always the first to go," I was told. Now it appears that the opposite is true. If you want people's business, ensure your cleaning's faultless and for good measure, make a point of letting your customers know of all you're doing to keep them safe.
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11th March 2021