Cleaning and disinfecting the workplace

The role of smart cleaning in the workplace of the future

New hybrid work models brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to shape the way people work going forward. That means a major shift in occupancy rates in office buildings and other workspaces. How can soft service providers operate cost-efficiently while still offering their customers the best experience? The solution is smart cleaning.

The evolution of cleaning

The cleaning industry has always been central to keeping workplaces safe and hygienic: from offices, to airports, to education facilities and beyond. And like many industries, cleaning is currently undergoing a rapid evolution. In the past, soft services companies would plan their staffing and supplies based solely on the square footage, room categories, type of floor covering and time-based contracts. Eventually, the industry shifted towards results-oriented contracts, which provided cleaning based on the output and the agreed service agreements through SLAs and KPIs. Yet, these old models of scheduling cleaning are imprecise, to say the least. Even worse, they often lead to a mismatch between the service provided and the amount of cleaning actually needed. That leads to wasted resources and dissatisfied customers.

Today, many cleaning service provider companies have embraced new technologies such as the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) and PropTech to improve how they schedule cleaning. Soft service providers now have access to connected, sensor-based point solutions, such as smart wastebins and motion detectors that monitor thresholds and occupancy rates. This allows cleaners to plan cleaning activities more efficiently and avoid overcleaning and wasting resources. Yet, many cleaning companies lack the strategy and technology to incorporate all of their point solutions into one integrated, open platform. By combining all data into one platform, you provide cleaners with real-time insights to start building a data-driven operational excellence strategy.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, occupancy rates have fluctuated considerably as office workers shifted to working from home. Now that remote working has become a new reality for millions of workers, it’s time for the cleaning industry to evolve even further, especially since people are more focused than ever on cleanliness, hygiene and safety. The future of work will require smart cleaning that is data-driven, hyperautomated, interactive for users and fully transparent for cleaning companies and their clients.

How does smart cleaning work?

The smart cleaning of the future relies on data collected by point solutions throughout the workplace. In restrooms, for example, virtually every touchpoint can now be monitored by sensors, from motion detectors at the doors to determine how many people have entered the restroom, to sensors that detect how full the wastebins, soap dispensers and paper towel holders are. This data is captured by a central system and integrated into a dashboard that automatically shows cleaning teams exactly what needs to be cleaned when they start their shift.

Smart cleaning also allows for more efficient cleaning of spaces such as meeting rooms and workspaces. Motion sensors in the meeting rooms can inform cleaners whether a room has actually been used or not since the last cleaning. This saves time and resources by preventing cleaners from having to manually check meeting rooms. If a room has been reserved, but ultimately was not used, then the system automatically makes the room available again in the room reservation system and removes it from the cleaning task list.

With the right system, users in the office can also directly create cleaning tickets with just a few taps in a mobile app. For example, if a user notices that the coffee machine on their floor is out of supplies or there is a spill that needs cleaning, they can simply open this app on their phone, scan a QR code on the coffee machine and instantly submit a cleaning request. The cleaning crew receives the cleaning request in real time via their own mobile app, and the request is automatically integrated into their cleaning list.

What are the possibilities for smart cleaning?

Like all data-driven solutions, smart cleaning also collects a wealth of valuable data. This data can be used to automatically predict trends, which make staff- and resource-planning more efficient. Even external data, such as weather forecasts, can be integrated into the cleaning schedule, so that cleaners can plan ahead with greater precision. If the smart cleaning system knows that rain or snow are on the way, for example, it can automatically schedule additional staff and supplies to keep things nice and tidy around the office.

Data-driven smart cleaning makes it more efficient than ever for cleaning service providers to offer a high-quality service that keeps their customers satisfied. It also gives a clear overview of all tasks, so that cleaners can provide their customers with transparent records of their day-to-day activities. This brings a new dimension to quality-monitoring, which is so important to achieving a positive user experience for customers.

In the post-pandemic world, building occupancy rates will continue to fluctuate as more workers become part of the hybrid way of working. Smart cleaning empowers you to plan and predict with greater precision and to respond to your customers’ wishes in real time.

Are you ready to discover what smart cleaning can do for you and your customers? Be sure to check out our white paper "How to grow your business and improve customer satisfaction with hyperautomation". You’ll learn how hyperautomation makes facilities management smarter, more customer-focused and more cost-efficient.

Contact us today to learn how solutions from Planon and our partners help you prepare for the workplace of the future.

Photo of Tom Ryckaert

Tom Ryckaert

Former Business Development Manager at Planon

Tom Ryckaert is an experienced business development professional, with a specific interest in facility management. He worked for Planon from 2020 through 2022 as Global Business Development Manager.

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