Since labor is the greatest part of any custodial contract, the ongoing challenge is to answer the question “How long should it take to do a specific task?” And “how can I improve those times?”  Factors that come into play include:

• Capability of the worker.  Has he/she been trained correctly in how to most effectively perform the prescribed tasks?

• Fatigue factor.  Is this their primary job or have they just completed an eight-hour shift and now are starting their second job of the day?

• Do the tools and equipment provided match the job needs?  Example: is the vacuum cleaner appropriate for the work to be performed with minimum trips back to the janitor closet?

• Do they understand how to use and maintain the tools and equipment provided?  Example: do they know when and how often to dump the vacuum cleaner bag and when the filters and liners need to be service?

• Are workers using quadrant cleaning techniques that assures “touching” areas daily, weekly and periodically so that areas are dusted and cleaned often enough but not too often?

• How often is the area cleaned?  Example: during a budget cut, a customer may reduce the frequency of various tasks resulting in more time spent when it is serviced?

• What is the traffic and tenant count of the area?  Example: an area with high traffic but low tenant occupancy will require servicing key rest rooms more often, pulling trash differently and workloading the area to accommodate where there dirt is.

• Has the area been time studied so that the worker has been given times for given areas and tasks?

• Has the area been retuned (rebalanced) periodically to verify that the allocated time is appropriate for the work to be performed?

Can you think of other variables that could affect how time standards are implemented?  Utilizing the published time standards for various pieces of equipment can help identify the best tools/equipment for a specific task even if your numbers vary.  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…..


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or