The move from a manual to digital task list, as well as the information it produces, means that evidence-based cleaning does a lot to benefit janitors, too. 

Backstrom and Bishop say the old process of hand-written records is too error-prone and too inefficient — with that hassle eliminated, janitors can focus on what they’re most judged by: cleaning.  

“When janitors start using the technology there is no going back, as they realize how much easier it makes their job,” says Backstrom. “Time reporting, quality reporting, extra work reporting, scheduling, workforce management, quality assurance, security — all of these improve with the technology.

Many within the cleaning industry work alone, so having a technology that puts a worker’s location in place can provide employees with an improved sense of well-being.

“Employees also feel safe when they know that somebody always knows where they are or where they are on the way to next,” says Backstrom.

Even though evidence-based technology stands to make the job of the janitor easier, there are reasons to wonder if it could also have some drawbacks, too. While the use of the apps and data can lead to greater efficiency, another person’s perspective could be that the technology will have a negative impact on productivity and work ethic if used in the wrong way, says Bishop, who believes honesty is an important part of making this setup work.

“We like the idea of being transparent,” she says. “Most of us genuinely enjoy a sense of achievement with our work, being able to identify where we can improve, seeing our progress visually, and then being rewarded when we do. We feel that this is a much better use of this technology.”

Some BSCs and others in the industry have concerns that this constant monitoring of employees might present too much of a “Big Brother” vibe. However, the apps also easily alert janitors to new, urgent tasks, allowing them to be “problem solvers.” This leads to janitors taking greater pride in their work.

“Janitors feel more appreciated, they feel more involved,” says Ronald Van de Pol, agile coach for LEVIY, an Amersfoort, Netherlands-based software company. “The prouder a janitor can be the happier everyone will be.”

Evidence-based cleaning could be the future, but that doesn’t mean it has reached its ceiling. Evidence-based cleaning apps could eventually be matched to other sensors in a facility that monitor a product, allowing janitors to be tasked with cleaning more on an as needed basis. If a janitor is notified as soon as something needs cleaning or a product needs to be re-stocked, they’re able to quickly solve the issue, reducing the chance that a building’s occupants will become disgruntled. 

“In the future, we are exploring the ability to leverage the data captured from intelligent equipment like sweepers, toilet and paper towel dispensers to incorporate action into our workforce management product,” says Shanholtz.

The evidence-based cleaning movement could also involve automated alarms triggered by “no show” workers in certain premises or at certain times, order placement when products run low, and automated reports to customers.

“There are really no limits for where this technology can take us, and as long as we stay creative the sky is the limit,” says Backstrom.

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