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Last year, I did something in my professional life that I haven’t done in 20 years. I took a break. Not a break from work — I still worked, abundantly so — but I decided to take a break from the noise cannon of social media. Essentially, I decided to force myself back to a reality that didn’t rely on an algorithm force-feeding me content based upon my historical interactions with a platform. In other words, I returned to 2003 for a little while. 

I didn’t shut out social media because I eschew technology, but because I got tired of consuming information that was being chosen for me, and not the other way around. I’m glad I did it, too. The result of the experiment was that it helped me retune my focus and sharpen my already terrible attention span beyond a few nanoseconds. I also noticed that conversation around our profession, at least for me, has become somewhat deconstructed. 

If you know me, you know I like to reconstruct and build a simple foundation to work from. From my perspective, there are three important components to having a well-grounded cleaning program: Engineering, Science, and Professionalism. Each one of these concepts is of equal importance when considering a comprehensive cleaning program. 

Engineering: Simply put, engineering is the act of working to create an outcome. One of the primary goals when engineering a cleaning program is to create daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually and annually repeatable outcomes.  

Every day, unwanted matter accumulates in our facilities. An engineered approach should remove that accumulation over time, and prevent it from growing beyond what currently exists. Logistically standardizing an operation in terms of cleaning process, training for crews, inventory, storage, tools, equipment, and chemicals are hallmarks of an engineered program. 

Science: Validating an engineered approach requires outcomes to be measured. A cleaning program will have measurable, documented daily outcomes. This concept goes beyond measuring the cleaning department’s effect on the indoor environment. It also documents how the cleaning process creates outcomes that are manageable for crews, supervisors, managers and the building occupants. 

Professionalism: Professionalism is an endeavor based upon knowledge. For the cleaning operation to be successful every day, the entire cleaning department needs to be continuously educated about the process in place, and the rationale for why it is so. A successful cleaning program cannot perform at a high level without a continuously improving knowledge base. This requires an ongoing educational program that not only teaches, but measures whether workers understand the intended learning objectives of the cleaning program. 

Cleaning is more than merely scrubbing everything really well, or making things look spotless. I’m a firm believer that it is a critical component of a functioning society. How we clean our facilities not only impacts the health, but also the behavior and the mental well-being of the occupants of our facilities. Considering a cleaning program from these three perspectives provides the exact same benefits to the professionals on our cleaning staff.  

Ben Walker is COO at ManageMen, Inc., a leading cleaning industry consultancy specializing in training, transitions, auditing and educational materials. He can be reached at