One Team Approach

Lee Andrews, CEO of DOC Cleaning, explores the ways in which a cleaning contractor can deliver added value in support of their FM clients.

Cleaning is often seen as the Cinderella of all support services. Carried out, in the main, when there is no-one around, it often lives up to its sobriquet of only getting noticed when it is not done. And yet in any given building it is the only service that covers every corner from reception, communal spaces, and hygiene areas, through to offices, meeting rooms, waste collection, windows and often the roof itself. The cleaning contractor undeniably has a valuable knowledge of the building.

Because of this ‘all-seeing’ nature, in many respects cleaning is perfectly placed to be a key support to the person with overall responsibility for the building itself, in other words the facilities manager. Which raises the question, ‘How can the cleaning contractor proactively convert their unique position into added value for the FM over and above just keeping the building clean?’

At DOC, the answer for many years has been to take the lead in a One Team approach, whereby a combination of cleaning’s access to areas, relationships with other service providers and use of communications technology is used to deliver a valuable resource for the FM on a whole range of matters ranging from maintenance to tenant grumbles.

How Does One Team Work in Practice?

FMs are busy people, facing challenges that range from risk management, energy saving and building security, through to keeping building occupants happy, ensuring cooperation between contractors, introducing eco-friendly initiatives and, last but not least, proactively managing an aging inventory to extend the life of fixtures and fittings.

Reading this list, it is easy to see how a cleaning contractor, directly or indirectly, can proactively assist with many of them. Be that as it may however, a team effort is likely to work better than individual initiatives, so the challenge is how to coordinate the efforts of different service providers to deliver meaningful support in helping the FM meet these challenges?

Can Cleaning Perform This Role More Often?

What is clear is that by virtue of its central position as an integral service within a building, cleaning, and cleaning contractors can play a role in facilities management that goes far beyond creating a hygienic work environment. It just takes a willingness on behalf of all those involved to work out how the very considerable resource that is a cleaning operation can be used to drive superior FM delivery.

Where Does One Team Work Best?

A One Team approach comes into its own when the building is under the stewardship of a roaming FM, visiting site as part of a wider portfolio of buildings. In this situation, a proactive cleaning contractor who has access to all parts of a building can confidently become the FM’s representative on site, acting as the channel for communication between providers and the FM. When faced with this situation at DOC, we have often convened informal meetings with other contractors to discuss concerns and initiatives around issues such as maintenance, waste segregation, tenant complaints, or health and safety.

In a large building, a One Team approach delivers real benefits, but in a slightly different way. It’s not unusual to have your cleaning site manager, who is usually a hands-on, practical personality, again acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the FM. Service provider meetings may be chaired by the FM, but cleaning’s position as the omnipresent service can result in it taking on an important new role focusing on the use of mobile app technology, such as RFID tags, camera based quality monitoring systems, or waste recording equipment to generate management information on both service compliance and building usage. All this data can be analysed at a granular level that will usefully inform changes to the way services are delivered within the building.

Case Study: Tower 42

One of London’s original skyscrapers, Tower 42 is now a hi-tech, multi-occupancy office building that over 70 companies call home. For over ten years DOC have had the privilege of cleaning the entire building from top to bottom, including all the tenanted areas. During that time, the company has worked alongside the Tower 42 management team as part of a One Team approach, designed to ensure that all service providers work together to deliver the highest quality working environment for the building’s occupants.

With a fairly small management team themselves, Tower 42 have come to rely on DOC, who have over 100 staff on site each day, as their ‘eyes and ears’. A good example of this is in waste management, where DOC is responsible for collecting waste from every floor, monitoring occupants’ compliance with recycling via a clear bag system and ensuring that no contaminated waste is loaded into the basement recycling bins and compactors. DOC’s cleaning site manager feeds back to the Tower 42 team on recycling performance (66% at Tower 42 versus 38% for London as a whole), as well as other aspects of building’s health, such as maintenance.

It goes without saying that DOC is fully integrated to the building’s CAFM helpdesk and, as the only contractor to have staff visiting every floor, DOC staff also act as the go-to resource for collecting and collating information from different areas of the building or checking out the facts when an incident is reported.