QR Code

Hot Desking, Smart Cleaning 

Workspaces were becoming much more flexible well before the pandemic as companies shifted away from formal private offices and cubicles to more shared, relaxed spaces. Employees could choose their work environment for the day based on comfort, need and availability. Feel like sitting at a desk? Staff could reserve one from a hoteling system. Want a more casual vibe? Grab the laptop and snag a space on a communal couch. 

This flexibility already complicated cleaning schedules for BSCs. Now, post-pandemic, back-to-the-office protocols have tied those cleaning schedules into a knot as building occupants blend on-site and virtual work schedules. 

One solution BSCs have is to place sensors on desks and in conference rooms, preventing a mismatch between cleaning need and performance. For instance, motion sensors in the meeting rooms can inform cleaners whether a room has been used since the last cleaning. This saves time and resources by preventing cleaning staff from having to manually check meeting rooms. If a room has been reserved, but the sensor indicated it was never used, then the system automatically makes the room available again in the room reservation software and removes it from the cleaning task list. 

Some systems allow users in the office to directly create cleaning tickets with just a few taps in a mobile app. For example, if a building occupant notices that there is a spill that needs cleaning, they can simply open the app on their phone, scan a QR code on the wall in that area and instantly submit a cleaning request. The BSC receives the cleaning request in real time via their own mobile app, and the request is automatically integrated into their cleaning list. 

Systems like this can also create a dashboard that shows space usage over time. BSCs can use these heat maps to plan future cleaning jobs and optimizing teams. Some platforms even link with local weather reports so BSCs will know if snow or rain is on the way and can plan accordingly. 

Analyzing the Data 

There are a lot of platforms to collect and analyze all the data that these sensors, QR codes, and machines will generate. But BSCs comment that the information can become overwhelming, and many are unsure what to do with it once the data is collected.  

“Many of these platforms offer a million different features and benefits. It can be paralyzing to sift through it all,” says Ben Walker, director of consulting and education at ManageMen, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah. He suggests limiting the amount of data fields so collected information can be used to drive decisions and spark conversations. 

He adds that BSCs should start with the complaints, comments and requests that come in. How are these being addressed throughout the day and where are possible areas of improvement?  

“This kind of analysis can help assess whether cleaning instructions are clear or if there is an issue that needs to be addressed through more training,” Walker explains. “It can also help managers get ahead of issues before they become complaints.” 

Data from QR codes can also be used as monitoring tool, keeping track of where cleaning crews go during their shift and how long they worked in that area.  

“This information can help compute average cleaning times, put together traffic patterns, and offer opportunities for supervisors to adjust workloads,” says Walker. “It’s a solid way to see what happens during any given shift.” 

Although there are strong perks to newer technology, Walker’s biggest piece of advice is around data risks. Insisting that any data collected will be secure and encrypted is a good start, but that’s just the tip of the data risk iceberg. 

“When looking at service providers, be sure to ask, ‘Who owns this data?’” Walker insists. “If you cancel the service, can you take your data with you? Will it be used for other analytics? What other data is being tracked? Can I pull my data whenever I want? These are all important questions particularly for BSCs who work for some larger Fortune 500 companies or a secure government agency. They will not even let you carry a cell phone into the building if it is not pre-approved.” 


Amy Milshtein is a freelancer based in Portland, Oregon. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits. 

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Easy Ways to Embrace and Use Technology in Cleaning Processes