Illinois central college (ICC) has been day cleaning it's East Peoria, Ill. campus for almost a decade. But, according to John Vogelsang, facilities services director, what really sets his program apart from other facilities is that his staff also cleans in teams.

"We can't talk about daytime cleaning without segueing into daytime team cleaning," he says. "We began cleaning during the day in 2003 when the staff was responsible for specific zones. It wasn't until 2009 that we discovered the benefits of pairing daytime and team cleaning."

And although the end result is a successful program, getting the department to where it is today took a lot of hard work.

Shifting To Days

Until 2003, cleaning at ICC took place at night and according to Vogelsang, costs were high, cleanliness was sub-par, staff morale was low and complaints were common. To get a handle on the department, he developed key performance indicators.

"We measured things like energy costs, lights on in third shift, absenteeism, workers comp, overtime costs for trainers, etc." he says. "The resulting numbers were not good and complaints from faculty and staff were high."

As a result of the findings, management decided to move cleaners onto first shift. Almost immediately, the department reported positive improvements.

"When we switched to day cleaning, cleaning quality immediately improved and we lowered absenteeism by 40 percent," he says. "Grievances were reduced and a survey of building occupants reported glowing approval rates."

Financially, the shift to days also saved the department roughly $14,000 on employee salaries and an estimated 30 percent reduction in energy. The number of employee accidents also went down — saving on worker compensation claims — and staff turnover decreased.

Maybe not as obvious, but another benefit to daytime cleaning at ICC was the improved communication. According to Vogelsang, staff working during the day meant no more communication via memo or missed training classes.

"The staff was happier participating in training and social events at the college, such as lunches, orientation and holiday parties," he says. "They enjoy being a visible part of the school."

Although 95 percent of the staff was happy with the change, some workers did balk at a new 4:30 a.m. start time.

"In order to get everything done before 7:00 a.m. when the facility opens, we have to start work at 4:30," he says. "But, that also means the staff is done by 1:00, which they are happy about."

To make day cleaning work, the staff worked in zones to tackle classrooms and labs first thing in the morning — before students and faculty populated the areas. Once complete, the staff moved on to stocking and cleaning restrooms, common areas, offices and stairwells.

Overall, the shift to day cleaning had paid off for the facilities services department, but even more needed to be done.

Working As A Team

In 2008, the cost of cleaning per square foot on campus was roughly $2.22. According to what Vogelsang had learned from industry associations, that same year contractors were charging just $1.01.

"Why would the school pay so much for us compared to a contractor?" he asked. "We knew we had to bring those numbers closer together, or risk losing the department to contractors."

In 2009, an opportunity presented itself when the school added two new facilities to campus, totaling 90,000 square feet of additional cleanable space.

Unable to justify adding staff, Vogelsang and his team set out to absorb the additional work by increasing the square footage each worker cleaned. As it became more difficult for the staff to maintain the expected APPA cleaning level 2, Vogelsang began exploring new options.

"I read about team cleaning in Housekeeping Solutions many years ago," he says. "From what I had learned, it seemed like something we might benefit from, so I had my team look into it and by October 2009, we were off and running."

Although team cleaning is effective with up to six members, most departments find success with three or four — each specializing in a different cleaning task.

The first team member is a light-duty or trash specialist, also known as the starter. This person dusts, spot cleans glass and empties trash receptacles.

Following behind is the second team member, also known as the vacuum specialist or closer. This person vacuums the carpet, typically with a backpack vacuum, and double-checks that trash receptacles are emptied.

The third team member tackles the facility's restrooms — filling soap and towel dispensers, emptying trash, cleaning and disinfecting fixtures and mirrors.

Teams of four also have a project or utility specialist who concentrates on larger tasks such as mopping and buffing floors, vacuuming stairwells and taking trash to the dumpsters.

Of course, these duties can be tailored to the facility, which was the case at ICC. Vogelsang's teams consist of three workers who cover 40,000 square feet of campus.

"By implementing team cleaning, we were able to successfully absorb the additional square footage," says Vogelsang, "and we lowered our key performance indicator to $1.71."

Pairing day and team cleaning has proven successful at ICC. Vogelsang credits his department, as well as executives he reads about, for helping him find and successfully implement the programs.

"My team, specifically Tracy Humphrey and Anthony Murray, had a lot to do with the success of our team cleaning program," he says. "I also rely on magazines and associations to learn about the neat things other facilities are doing and what we might be able to incorporate here."