A new age of clean

INCLEAN NZ's Lizzie Hunter examines how mobile technology is transforming the traditional cleaning industry.

Mobile technology continues to find new ways to disrupt and challenge traditional industries around the world. Moreover, the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets in our personal lives is finding its way into the workforce, with more and more companies realising the operational benefits of mobile technology.

Like many markets around the world the increasing demand for transparency, facilitated by low-cost mobile devices and data plans, has driven the uptake of mobile devices in New Zealand’s commercial cleaning industry, with software programs today enabling contractors to monitor staff and provide real-time data to clients.

According to ISS Facility Services CIO IT, Luke O’Brien mobile software is beneficial from both a client’s perspective – as it provides evidence cleaning has been performed – and an employer’s perspective in regards to insurance and compliance if trips, slips or falls occur.

“Clients increasingly want more information about where their cleaning resources go and we’re interested from a compliance point of view.”

Another major recent change is the type of software available in the market. Michael Brown, CEO of Swept, a Canadian janitorial software company, says software today is now designed with the user front of mind.

“Software 10 years ago meant something very different to what it is today. Before, you could build a piece of software that was better than an excel spreadsheet, but it didn’t offer much to the user. Today’s software is all about the user.

“The bar has ultimately been raised. Cleaning is all about attention to detail, but quite often, the details aren’t communicated to the cleaner who is expected to carry out the work,” explains Brown. “Some companies hire and fire cleaners so quickly the new teams of cleaners don’t even know what is expected of them. Technology is guiding cleaners as to what to do.”

Accountability and transparency

Virtual Manager director Anil Patel says there is a lot more discipline, rigour and accountability for cleaners and equipment as clients seek more transparency.

“The demand for this kind of technology comes from clients wanting to see value for money; they want to insure that the work is completed efficiently. From an insurance point of view as well, with accidents like trips, slips and falls, businesses require evidence that these activities are occurring.”

“[Mobile] is allowing for a lot more efficiency with the cleaners because you can actually benchmark performance individually on tasks, but the main thing is it’s really trying to drive costs down so there is a reduction in labour”

Patel says timesheet fraud, which was previously a common problem felt among his clients, is less of an issue today thanks to more advanced data systems. “Owners now have more money to invest in technology that allows them to check whether the cleaner started cleaning at 9am, or whether he was turning up to the job half an hour later.”

According to O’Brien automation has improved the level of service and efficiency of service ISS provides to clients. In January 2017 the company launched its custom-built app which gives all field-based employees mobile access to their payroll, rosters, annual leave data, and company information.

Built in partnership with Mumba Cloud, the app allows team members to apply for leave electronically and access previous pay slips. Managers are able to approve leave electronically. ISS’ Australian cleaning division was the first to trial the app, which has been rolled out across sites including regional airports in Tasmania and a multitude of cleaning contracts across Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

“Information that could never be accessed before is now sent to us almost instantly,” explains O’Brien. “The devices we use notify us immediately whether or not someone has attended a site so we can ensure the job gets done. It’s helping us deploy more efficiently and effectively, as well as assist with the administration side of things.”

*This article first appeared in the February edition of INCLEAN NZ. Click here to continue reading.

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