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Why Robots are NOT the Future

As a floor-care professional, I hear and see stories about the impending “robotic takeover” in our industry, (reminds me of the Terminator movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 80’s and 90’s). I’ve heard all the benefits of robots cleaning commercial facilities. These range from huge savings on labor costs, increased and steady production rates which have no considerations for any human factors such as fatigue, scheduled breaks, vacations, adverse working conditions…including the fact that robots don’t complain! I decided to do some research and dig deeper into this topic to see just how long I have until doomsday, when my job will be replaced by a robot. Here is what I found out;

4 Ways Using The Wrong Cleaning Product Can Damage Your Business

Written by: EnvirOx

Whether you’re choosing a cleaning product for your own facility, or you’re a cleaning professional deciding on what product to use with your clients, it’s one of the most critical decisions you can make. If your floors are sticky, dirty, or slippery, then it means your cleaning product is leaving behind too much residue. These issues are more than just cosmetic or minor annoyances, however. They can have a real, negative impact on a business. Here are four problems that can result from residue left behind by the wrong cleaning product: 

4 Facilities Questions Answered

Recently, some of our customers had a chance to ask Staples Business Advantage expert Neal Duffy, Senior Manager, Facility Solutions, some of the trickier facilities and cleaning questions that arose in the office. Air freshener giving you a headache? Are you adequately protected against the flu? Neal has great advice and answers.

Dueling Disinfectants

When it comes to keeping the office clean, preferences come into play a lot, from the cleaning crew to the building occupants, about everything from color to scent. How do you balance these preferences? Is there a way to be sustainable while doing it?

Neal: People have been conditioned that fragrance and color are needed to clean. Who wants to use a clear glass cleaner? It needs to be dark blue, right? And when people seek to mask or cover up odors in target areas like bathrooms and breakrooms, the air fresheners or fragrances can actually be more offensive. Here are a few things that might help:

  • Talk to the person who sets the cleaning specs for your area and talk to them about people-friendly products that don’t just mask odors. Clean” should not have a smell.
  • Encourage the sourcing and use of more environmentally friendly products. Most suppliers offer these now, as more consumers are conscious of the negatives that come along with heavily fragranced or dyed products. Staples has our own line called Sustainable Earth by Staples, formulated using effective ingredients that are also people-friendly.
  • Communicate to leadership and facilities management if and when someone’s sensitive or allergic to certain products so the use of those can be avoided.

Avoiding an Outbreak

Do you have any tips on how employees can clean or disinfect things themselves? We have a cleaning service, but they only come in once a week, and when one person gets sick, it always spreads through the office.

Neal: No matter how good your cleaning service is, there are daily use surfaces like breakroom appliances, faucets, doorknobs, etc. that are breeding grounds for germs and may require more frequent cleaning—daily or even multiple times a day. Here are some good places to start:

  • Wash your hands, wash your hands and wash your hands—frequently and thoroughly.
  • If you can’t get to a sink to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Practice common sense. If it’s peak flu season or your colleagues are sick, take extra precautions like using a tissue or paper towel to open the door, or using a knuckle to press buttons. It may sound silly, but the fewer germs you allow to enter your body, the smaller your chance of getting sick.

Green & Clean

I’m looking for recommendations to pass along to our cleaning crew for products that are mostly natural and have fewer chemicals. What would you recommend?

There are many environmentally friendly and people-friendly products on the market to choose from these days. It’s key to look for third party green certifications such as Green Seal, EPA Safer Choice and EcoLogo. These certifications can help to distinguish the more sustainable products from those with harsher chemicals and dyes.

Saying Thanks (one of our favorite questions!)

I’m not involved in facilities management at my office. What can I do to better show that I appreciate the staff that keeps our office healthy and clean?

Neal: Keeping an office clean is not only a big challenge, but it’s also extremely important to the health, safety and satisfaction of everyone in the office. Some things you might consider doing to help show your appreciation:

  • Holidays of appreciation: There are several that fit, including National Custodial Workers Recognition Day (October 2) and World FM Day (usually in May), but you can also designate a day in your office to do something simple, like a sign and cookies or snacks for your cleaning crew.
  • Communication: Setting up a notebook for your office to communicate needs, concerns or thanks, especially for an after-hours crew, can help them better understand your needs and deliver better results, avoiding escalation.
  • A simple “thanks”: Just saying “thank you” on a regular basis can let your facilities staff know they are appreciated and it goes a long way in making their job easier.

Provided by Staples Business Advantage, February 17, 2017

The Devil is in the Details

My name is Aaron Bailey. I’ve spent the past two years observing and asking questions to my company’s clients, prospective clients, independent service providers, and experts in the industry, (trade organizations, chemical company representatives, and other building service contractors). I’ve been looking for trends in technology, chemicals & distribution, service delivery and generally what makes customers happy overall. What I discovered (in addition to the fact that there are some great people in the facility maintenance industry) are a few commonalities that center around four main topics: Communication, transparency, value, and quality. In the first of a four-part series, I will explore the topic of quality.

Although quality is listed lastly above, it’s almost always the number one topic among facility managers and corporate facilities team members. Let’s face it – particularly in the retail segment, these are the most competitive times in history. It’s no secret that internet companies are experiencing explosive growth year over year while actual in-store purchases are flat or declining. The internet has many competitive advantages, especially when it comes to the physical characteristics of a store. The internet company does not have to worry about dirty floors or messy bathrooms, gum spots on sidewalks, dust on fixtures or unclean windows. No light bulbs to replace, no slip and fall accidents waiting to happen…you get the point. Not only are retailers facing internet competition, but also fierce competition between themselves all fighting for what remains of customers who physically visit their stores. Advertising costs are through the roof, labor costs are rising (minimum wage went up by varying degrees in nineteen different states on January 1, 2017) and customer experience has become more important than ever.

With all this in mind, it is baffling to me that the first line-item to be cut or decreased from a corporate financial sheet is the janitorial budget. With so much riding on brand identity and awareness, why would anyone cut this spend? In a study performed by M/A/R/C Research and National In-Store, 14 percent of consumers polled said they would stop visiting a store that was not as clean as they liked. Obviously, this has a direct impact on the amount of spending a retailer can capture. This applies not only to retail, but to restaurants, early childhood education, higher education and office buildings. Basically, any entity competing for a customer of any kind!

Quality is defined as “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” Is quality subjective, or can facility managers quantifiably measure the quality of cleanliness in their facilities? Sure, it’s easy to measure the shine of a floor with a gloss meter. It’s also easy to measure the cleanliness of a floor by measuring the number of bacteria with an ATP meter. However, there are many aspects of a “quality cleaning” that indeed are subjective. As an example, let’s pretend two different inspections take place at the same facility by two different representatives. Representative 1 – let’s call him Joe, walks the sales floor and observes a clear, consistent shine on the hard-floors and very little debris on the carpeted areas. He then runs his fingers along several shelves / displays and finds no dust. The windows are not streaky and look relatively clean, as do the walk-off mats in the vestibule. He gives a B+ grade to the store because hey, let’s face it there is always room for improvement! Representative 2 – Jane, performs the same inspection in the same area and finds mostly the same quality. However, Jane goes a step further and climbs a ladder to check the cleanliness of the intake vents and finds high-levels of built-up dust. She also goes around the interior perimeter of the facility and inspects the tops of the baseboards and all inside corners, thus she finds more dust! Jane gives the store a C grade due to these facts. Did anything change other than the expectation differences between inspectors?

Written by Aaron Bailey

VP of Sales

Getting a Little Festive


Office Best Practices: HAVE FUN.
For Halloween this past Monday a few of the NJS employees got a little festive.
Is it considered work if you look this good?

Click the post to see their costumes!

Why is Green Cleaning Important?


This post is provided by Betco

Green Cleaning means more than using “green” products. The success of a green cleaning program is dependent on numerous factors. While the selection of sustainable products is important, it will have little effect in the case of an inadequate cleaning regimen that leaves facilities dirty and the health of occupants, visitors and the environment at risk. A comprehensive green cleaning program should include sustainable options for chemicals, procedures, equipment, paper, liners, mops and matting.

The movement toward green cleaning does not imply that traditional methods are inadequate or have created unsafe conditions. Instead, it can be viewed as simply taking the next step beyond current approaches to further reduce impacts on the environment while continuing to maintain and improve the health, comfort and aesthetics of our surroundings.

Sustainable solutions minimize the impact of cleaning on people and the environment. More importantly, it is a process to protect natural resources for the future – not a single product alone. In articles and discussions about green cleaning, you will typically read or hear themes about the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

People – pertains to fair and beneficial business practices toward labor and the community and region in which a corporation conducts its business.

Planet – refers to sustainable environmental practices. This practice entails reducing the ecological footprint by carefully managing consumption of energy, non-renewables and reducing waste as well as rendering waste less toxic before disposing of it in a safe and legal manner.

Profit – is the economic value created by an organization after deducting the cost of all inputs, including the cost of capital.

The cleaners used by the custodial staff have an impact on the residents and staff at Long Term Care facilities. By switching to safer chemistries, without sacrificing performance, residents and staff can perform in a safer environment and will reduce the spread of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI).

How do you know if a product is truly green? We know that green cleaning creates healthier environments.  However, to make sure that you are green cleaning you need to look for some type of third party certification endorsements from Green Seal, EcoLogo, Design for the Environment or BioPreferred.  These third party certifiers review a manufacturer’s product to make sure that it adheres to strict requirements based on the effects to the environment.

Note: The facility janitorial staffs contribute as much to the well-being of patients as the medical staff.  Keeping linens clean and reducing clutter helps improve the indoor environment and is conducive to healthy residents and staff.

 

8 Ways to Improve Office Air Quality


Take a deep breath. Notice anything? If you don’t, that could be a very good thing: indoor air quality, or IAQ, often only attracts notice when something’s wrong. But there are times when poor IAQ can go unnoticed, leading to headaches, congestion, nasal and throat irritation, and more—and it can even impact productivity. According to the World Green Building Council, IAQ can impact productivity by as much as 11%!  So how can the average business protect itself and maintain good IAQ? Here are a few easy ways—and the best part is, most of the efforts you take to improve your IAQ will also bring added benefits to your building and its occupants!

  • Maintain your air filters and your HVAC systems – this also ensures smooth operation and cuts down on energy costs incurred by poor maintenance and air flow!
  • Clean your building regularly to eliminate bacteria, dust and other pollutants. Not only does this improve IAQ, but also helps cut down on productivity drains like hay fever and influenza.
  • Protect your entryways and floors with proper matting systems that help trap soils and particles. Your lungs will thank you, and you’ll spend less time and money cleaning and refinishing your flooring!
  • Invest in (and maintain) quality vacuum systems for your facilities, including HEPA filtration technology. Backpack versions of these vacuums are also more efficient and safer for your employees to use.
  • Switch to microfiber dust mops and cloths that trap more soil and that are cleaned through thorough vacuuming and washing. Microfiber products can also cut down on the use of disposable alternatives, reducing your environmental footprint.
  • Choose cleaning chemicals that are low in volatile organic compounds. These chemicals are safer for your workers and can also provide you with the opportunity to streamline your cleaning supplies for more labor savings.
  • Plan your space around airflow, ensuring good ventilation and utilizing furniture and fixtures that are easy to clean. Thoughtful design can also boost productivity and employee morale!
  • Keep up to date with new guidelines issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. You should also work with vendors and suppliers who can work with you collaboratively to stay in step with the latest trends and regulations.

“8 Ways to Improve Office Air Quality.” 8 Ways to Improve Office Air Quality. N.p., Staples Business Advantage, 28 Sept. 2016. Web. 5 Oct. 2016.

Fast Approaching Flu Season



With the incoming school year fast approaching many kids are finishing up their summer reading and going back to school shopping.  While most are excited and jittery, parents know that with the new school year means another flu season.  If there is one recommendation this time of year it is to stock up on disinfectants along with that new backpack.

With that said, as you get ready for the cooler weather you should also prepare for flu season so you and those around you don’t fall victim this year.  Things you should consider are…

 

The Vaccine
If you’re over 6 months of age the CDC advises you to get vaccinated. It reduces the risk by 50% to 60% and can help you and those surrounding you who are more vulnerable to the virus (Vaccine Effectiveness).  However, I know many people who prefer the holistic way, which means they need to take the next few precautions a bit more seriously.

 

Keep Your Environment Clean!
You’ve seen those commercials when one person sneezes and it forms a huge green cloud that touches everything, right? In reality the cloud is basically invisible but we get the point; germs are everywhere. Getting an area clean and keeping it that way for long is impossible.  That’s why you really need to disinfect not just clean and to disinfect often since we’re always coming into contact with objects and areas that may carry these germs.

 

Know the Difference
Many people probably just clean their spaces by using a rag or sponge with some soap.  What this is really doing is just taking the germs from one spot to another.  If done properly (wearing gloves, having a “no touch” waste basket, etc.) it can be pretty effective, however how many people have you seen actually wearing gloves when they clean their home?  The most advisable thing to do is disinfect- killing the germs on site (How to Clean).   You can clean the rest of your space but be sure to disinfect the high-touch surfaces, your health will thank you later.

 

Know the Signs
Fatigue, the chills, cough, sore throat, fever, gastrointestinal issues, dizziness, dehydration, etc. can all be signs you have the flu (Cherney). If you start to feel these symptoms coming on, take some preventative measures so it doesn’t get worse.  Measures such as drinking a lot of fluids to flush your system, staying home in order to become less exposed to more germs, over the counter medicine for headaches, pains and fever, and take a walk to boost your immune system (Vankoughnet).

 

However, don’t leave this until the last minute when you’re already getting sick.  It’s also better to think about it now to keep an eye out for sales on tissues, sanitizers, and disinfectants. Also, after you’ve finished preparing for the colder months, keep up on cleaning and disinfecting those high-touch areas until flu season is over to keep you and everyone around you out of the flu’s way.

 

Cherney, Kristeen. “6 Early Flu Symptoms.” Healthline. Healthline, 8 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.
“How To Clean and Disinfect Schools To Help Slow the Spread of Flu.”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.
“Vaccine Effectiveness – How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 May 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.
Vankoughnet, Katherine. “8 WAYS TO STOP A COLD AND THE FLU IN ITS TRACKS.” Canadian Living. Group TVA, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.

Green to Sustainable



We’ve been hearing it for decades, “go green,” and “save the planet,” but there’s always a next step.  Is now that time to take the next step? Every industry has been taking the necessary measures to try cutting their carbon footprint on the earth and to make their history more about their accomplishments than how they crippled the planet.  So now that we’ve all gone green it’s time to become more sustainable.

You’ve probably seen this happening already for a couple of years but more recently the pace has picked up and deadlines are being set.  San Francisco unanimously voted to have new buildings dedicate 15% of their roofs for solar panels (Domonoske).  San Francisco is also working towards zero waste, 50% clean transportation, 100% renewable energy, and a deadline of 2025 to get greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels (Office of the Mayor). This is happening across the country and worldwide. Copenhagen, Denmark has pledged to become “carbon neutral” by 2025. Also by 2025, London, UK will produce 25% of the energy it uses at locally-generated sources (Altenerymag).

This new way of thinking effects the cleaning industry immensely, by needing trying to make all procedures more cost-effective and efficient for their clients.  In today’s world everyone is trying to be more environmentally conscious; using or even having the option of “green” products opens up your business to more markets.

This new step towards sustainability will effect all parts of a cleaning business such as equipment selection, when and how much chemicals one buys, scheduling, and products.

Equipment selection that uses energy and products more efficiently that will reduce cost of materials and shorter labor hours.  Buying chemicals only when you need them adds more driving time meaning more emissions and more packaging equaling more waste.  Scheduling carpet cleans will be set more on a needs basis then every (insert specific time here). Also scheduling day cleaning will be a growing trend as it allows the whole facility to shut down at a specific hour.  Also, the products themselves are changing. Some green products are being replaced by ones much more biodegradable and such as green trash liners to corn-based liners (ISSA).

Many cleaners have already begun the process of making the switch to more sustainable cleaning methods and products. It is really no wonder with most clients demanding or wanting that type of service.  This shows that you’re working towards the same goal as your clients and the rest of the world.  It is something that could connect you and a possible customer.  Consider making the switch so have a better chance at making that deal.

 

Domonoske, Camila. “San Francisco Requires New Buildings To Install Solar Panels.” NPR. NPR, 20 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.
“Mayor Lee & Board President Breed Announce San Francisco Exceeds Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goal.” Office of the Mayor. SFGOV, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 June 2016.
Segura, Ron. “Sustainability: The Next Turning Point in Professional Cleaning.” ISSA. ISSA, 3 May 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.
Tajne, Pradhnya. “Top 10 Sustainable Cities and Their Efforts in the Renewable Energy Sector.” AltEnergyMag. AltEnergyMag, 12 June 2015. Web. 23 July 2016.
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