When considering how to make sure your office stays safe, clean and tidy, it’s worth considering the pros and cons of retaining a professional contract cleaning service, and comparing them with those of cleaning the office yourself or hiring a cleaner directly.
What you choose for your business will depend on several factors, the size of your office, the number of staff you employ, your office facilities (e.g. kitchens and communal areas), and what level of cleaning service you actually need.
Self-cleaning is often what many of the smallest businesses, especially start-ups, opt for in the first instance. This is a perfectly acceptable solution for many: with employees setting aside a few minutes every day for general cleaning, and a little longer on a weekly basis to thoroughly clean workstations and communal areas.
However, there are drawbacks to this solution. Buying cleaning consumables at full retail price becomes expensive over time, and office cleaning may be neglected during especially busy times or during holiday periods. Additionally, cleaning products and equipment do carry a certain risk, and hence a liability on the part of the employer. So whilst it may look like the most economical solution, once you factor in your employees’ hourly rate, the potential risks and liabilities and irregularity of service, self-cleaning really isn’t the budget friendly option it might first appear to be.
For these reasons, many small businesses elect to employ an in-house cleaner. This has the advantage of not diverting valuable personnel resources away from core business activities and delivering a generally more regular and higher quality cleaning service. It will be up to you to ensure your chosen cleaner is fully and appropriately insured, trained and aware of precisely what is expected of them. By directly employing a cleaner you can exercise your judgement about who cleans your office, and define their role and responsibilities precisely.
Once again, there are problems with this solution, especially for offices with more than a handful of people. Firstly, there is continuity of service – if your cleaner falls ill, gets a job elsewhere, goes on holiday or simply vanishes, there’s very little you can do except go through the whole process again from the start, interviewing cleaners, explaining responsibilities and ensuring service delivery. If you have a large office, you may need to divert personnel resources away from core business activities after all, simply to manage a cleaning team and ensure that cleaning plans are developed and adhered to.
Hiring a cleaner is an improvement on self-cleaning, and for many of the smallest businesses, it may be sufficient. If your office facilities include a kitchen, wash rooms facilities or an entrance lobby, then neither of these two solutions are viable or desirable.
The advantages of employing a professional contract cleaning service start with the bottom line. Industry analysts at the International Facility Management Association (IF MA) estimates that in-house cleaning services typically cost up to 25% more than contracting to an outsourced cleaning firm. A contract cleaning firm will also consult extensively in order to tailor its cleaning services precisely to your budget and requirements, enabling you to easily control costs and manage resources. Outsourcing also frees you from the responsibility of interviewing and appointing cleaning staff, creating and monitoring cleaning schedules and carrying out quality checks.
A contract cleaning firm’s employees will all be comprehensively trained in general health and safety, the use of cleaning equipment and the use and storage hazardous cleaning materials, minimising liabilities and avoiding injury claims. Your contract cleaning firm will also be able to manage inventories of cleaning materials and consumables like toilet tissue, washing up liquid, hand soap, linens and hand towels for your wash rooms and kitchen areas, saving you money through their volume purchasing power.
It’s difficult to quantify the effect that clean, fresh wash rooms and kitchens have on the morale and mood of employees, but it’s instinctively clear that employees will feel more valued and looked after than if their facilities were perpetually messy and unhygienic. Good hygiene will also help to reduce staff sickness and disease transmission through surface contamination of communal equipment like photocopiers and printers.
Above all else, outsourcing your cleaning means you will be offered a Service Level Agreement, which not only defines precisely what your contract cleaning firm will deliver, but shows how well it understands the needs of your business. A contract cleaning firm should offer you regular reviews of your SLA in order to ensure that your cleaning needs are being met, and to accommodate changes in your requirements.
There is a perception that outsourcing is more expensive, and on the face of it headline costs may appear to be higher than other options. But the hidden costs of self-cleaning or in-house cleaning staff need to be fully calculated for a fair comparison.