Between restroom odors, empty dispensers, full trash cans and more, the fury of most complaints directed at facility managers tend to trace back to a few distinct categories over and over again.

In 2020, those same issues are still plaguing cleaning departments — albeit at a lower rate as a result of pandemic shutdowns. However, any relief from those conventional complaints has been promptly filled by unprecedented inquiries about disinfecting touchpoints, personal protective equipment (PPE), indoor air quality and general appearance of cleanliness.

While such topics should be a priority given the pandemic and not to be taken lightly, elevated stress can make the voicing of these worries anywhere from paranoid to frivolous.

To gain more context on these matters, Facility Cleaning Decisions surveyed our readers to share their experiences. What we compiled was a long list of not only the most typical complaints that come from staff members or occupants, but also some of the most bizarre gripes directed at cleaning departments.

Prioritizing Perceptions

As expected, restrooms remain the top hotspot for complaints, according to 51 percent of respondents. But quickly gaining momentum are issues that center around optics. When assessing complaints managers received on a biweekly basis, the top three year-over-year were, by a wide margin, dirty or dusty floors at 23 percent (up 17 points); entrances at 24 percent (up 13 points); and dirty appearance in any given area (up 12 points). These increases are linked to the industry-wide emphasis on making facilities presentable.

Elevated cleaning demands, particularly on the disinfection side, have required many departments to take on heavier workloads despite static levels of staff and budgets. As a result, custodians have worked harder than ever to keep facilities up to standard, and for the most part, respondents to the survey say building occupants have taken notice and shown appreciation.

Managers received occasional concerns from occupants regarding the types of cleaners and disinfectants being used to eliminate viruses from surfaces, but most have successfully qualmed those fears by being transparent about any new procedures and products being introduced.

Since the pandemic started, over two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents have been tasked with cleaning and disinfecting personal workspaces, including desks and cubicles. The reception in doing so from occupants has been mostly positive, albeit some are still either reluctant or refuse the service altogether.

For some less-fortunate custodians, the case-by-case nature of personal workspaces can be an all-around headache.

"One occupant has a large collection of small glass figurines...on an all-mirror countertop," says one manager. "It would take the staff 30 minutes just to dust and clean the glass."

While such stories and complaints are bizarre (and in many instances, downright absurd) the silver lining is being able to share experiences and embrace the camaraderie of it. Dive into these results to see that a glass figurine collection is just one of many examples of interesting complaints.

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