As building service contractors adjust to the collaborative workplace, they must tailor their pricing structures and cleaning frequencies to these new office designs rather than utilize a similar bid structure everywhere, says Senior Property Manager Jeff Mabrey at Hines Interest Ltd., Dallas. 

Under the traditional cleaning model, contractors consider the number of employees and the square footage of the space to estimate the time it will take to clean it. Now with workers coming and going, the facility may actually require more frequent cleaning because different people throughout the day are using the collaborative workplace. 

So when BSCs workload a building, the first thing to ask about is the density of the worker population, says David Hewett, a Hillsboro, Ore.-based consultant and former BOMA chairman. 

“You really need to ask how many people will be residing in the area; it may be more than one person per one desk,” he says. “A 10,000-square-foot office building may have once held 100 workers, but now it holds 125. But those employees may not all be there at the same time so there is a rotation effect. And in the past, when those employees weren’t there, their space wasn’t being used, so it didn’t need to be cleaned. Now every one of those cubicles is being used every day and will need to be cleaned.”

Knowing how a collaborative workplace is being used helps contractors properly schedule cleaning, added Hewett.

Contractors must request information about the following during the bidding process: What is the function of this space? How often will it be in use? What type of work will be done in this area? 

In addition, BSCs should conduct a full walk-through of the facility before they bid to see exactly how the building is laid out and the work is being performed in them. 
“Contractors need to know more than just the square footage of the space,” Mabrey says. “Does the facility have wide open spaces versus a lot of smaller offices and cubicle space? They need to tailor their specs to that.”

Spec’ing the appropriate equipment requires contractors to consider the facility’s layout. Are there large gathering areas with tables spread throughout? Can chairs be put on top of tables to vacuum underneath? Must they be moved around to vacuum? Wide-area vacuums may be required for the larger open spaces, with backpack vacuums required for smaller workstations. 

Office spaces have changed and contractors need to follow suit. No longer will it be possible to have one specification that serves most facilities. 

“Contractors customize their bids to the facility, because it will no longer be a one-size-fits-all scenario,” Mabrey says.   

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits.