I like data. Data is essential to every aspect of cleaning department management. Managers with accurate and trackable data from their facilities have power. With the proper workload data, you can calculate your department’s productivity. You also will have the power to answer questions such as “How would a new product or piece of equipment affect productivity levels?” or “How would a change in cleaning frequencies affect cleanliness?” You can use the data as a tool for running daily operations and for discussing your department’s operations with your boss, colleagues or fellow organization administrators. Conversely, the lack of data can hinder the cleaning mission. Custodial managers often seem to make decisions based on subjective perceptions and hearsay. Managers without data will never know, for example, if their department is operating at its peak productivity level.

When calculating workload, consider three important variables: task, time and frequency of labor. By formulating workload based on these principles, cleaning managers can better track and improve cleaning efficiency.

Step 1. Determine your tasks. Break down tasks into three categories: daily, detail and project.

Daily tasks include emptying trash, cleaning restrooms and vacuuming. Detail work can be performed on a set-schedule basis and is more involved than daily work. Some of the tasks that fall under detail work are high/low dusting, cleaning walls and vacuuming all areas of carpet.

Project work is performed less frequently: anywhere from weekly to annually. Vacuuming vents, floor stripping, and upholstery and carpet cleaning are all project tasks.

Once you have determined your tasks, assign cleaning times. This is the tricky part. Cleaning times can be determined using several different methods and can be affected by thousands of variables. Unless you are doing a time-and-motion study, I would recommend starting with The Official ISSA 447 Cleaning Times guide. It is a simple guide for estimating average cleaning times.

Step 2. Take inventory of cleanable square feet and objects to be cleaned. Workloading according to facility gross square footage is a mistake that will skew workload data. The easiest way to get accurate numbers is to measure cleanable square footage manually. This takes time, but can prevent a lot of problems in the long run.

Step 3. Begin workloading. Start by compiling a frequencies chart for the facility. List all the tasks identified in Step 1 and attach the number of times the task will be performed. For instance, daily tasks may be performed 260 times per year. Scrubbing restroom floors may be done 12 times per year.

Allocate the amount of time for each task to the applicable cleanable square footage. Then add in all the non-surface items, by unit, to be cleaned.

Next, calculate the time for each task and multiply those numbers by the frequency: You should have a clear view of the amount of time and labor to clean your facility.

The formula: task x time (to perform task) x frequency = basic workload. This is a fairly simple way to calculate the basic workload of most facilities.

John P. Walker is the owner of ManageMen consulting services in Salt Lake City. He also is the founder of Janitor University, a hands-on cleaning management training program.