While mobile devices have empowered field service workers for more than a decade, the cleaning industry has been slow to adopt mobile phones within its workforce.
But over the last few years, the pace of mobile adoption is suddenly increasing, and the cleaning companies that are leading the way are reaping the rewards.
Using mobile devices to manage cleaning services offers a range of business benefits, from reporting efficiency and improved compliance, to streamlined communication and enhanced employee safety.
In fact, at Toronto Airport, Canadian facilities management provider Dexterra saved up to 100 hours per week using a mobile solution that replaces paper record-keeping and automates reporting.
So, what’s driving a sudden increase in the adoption of mobile phones? Cleaners are becoming more comfortable using mobile apps as part of their work.
Buyers of cleaning services are demanding detailed and real-time reporting from their providers, and cleaning companies realise that the benefits of implementing mobile solutions far outweigh the costs.
How are mobile devices used in the delivery of cleaning services? The way value is derived usually varies depending on the type of cleaning contract.
For instance, there is a strong focus on risk minimisation in retail contracts through real-time tracking of cleaning rotations and reporting of slip hazards such as spills.
Small sensors called Bluetooth beacons work in tandem with a mobile application to monitor when toilets and food courts are cleaned and automatically raise alerts if rotations are missed. Suppose a cleaner identifies a hazard such as a spill.
In that case, the cleaner can use the mobile application to log a record and include photos that demonstrate the risk has been eliminated.
The data generated from these interactions plays a vital role in reducing public liability claims costs typical in large retail contracts.
In healthcare settings, managing variable cleaning tasks such as patient room turnover and providing verifiable reporting that supports accreditation requirements is critical.
Using mobile devices and Bluetooth beacons, help desk operators can see cleaners’ real-time location and use this data to more efficiently allocate cleaning tasks.
When a task is assigned to a cleaner, the cleaner is immediately notified via a mobile application. The cleaner can update the task’s status giving the help desk full visibility of all work in progress.
The use of data to inform the help desk, plus automated mobile workflows, results in a much more efficient, reliable and compliant cleaning operation.
In large, distributed contracts such as retail banking or big-box retail, knowing the cleaner showed up and completed the required work is critical.
In this case, a virtual GPS perimeter, known as a geo-fence, can be set around each property with an associated service schedule. If the cleaner doesn’t start a shift on time, an exception is automatically raised and a manager is notified.
When a cleaner does show up, the mobile application automatically presents the tasks that need to be completed based on the time and location.
This data provides regional managers with the confidence that services have been delivered according to scope and allows them to manage contracts by exception. It also streamlines payroll administration by automating start and finish time collection.
These are just a few examples of how mobile devices can drive value within commercial cleaning contracts. In our experience working with some of Australia’s leading cleaning companies, we’ve seen firsthand how leveraging mobile devices can help win new contracts, retain existing contracts, improve compliance, drive efficiency and reduce risk.
The cleaning companies that adopt mobile technology generate a vast amount of valuable data that helps them understand their operations and make better decisions.
Given the tremendous benefits they offer, why aren’t all companies rushing to deploy mobile devices to their cleaning teams?
The most common objections we hear include it costs too much, cleaners don’t know how to use the apps, we can’t expect cleaners to use their phones for work or it’s too hard to change.
Firstly, the associated costs of rolling out and supporting a mobile-empowered workforce are insignificant to the costs of doing nothing.
We’ve seen how cleaning companies that have implemented mobile technology win contracts over their competitors.
Mobile technology also helps retain at-risk contracts and delivers enough efficiency gains to pay for itself many times over.
Secondly, let’s give cleaners the credit they deserve: they are capable of using mobile phones and applications. For the small proportion who are not tech-savvy, a small investment in training can solve any challenges.
Finally, we are transitioning into a world where it’s normal for employees to use their phones to conduct work. It has been happening in the corporate world for over a decade.
That said, it’s crucial to develop a clear mobile device use policy, cover any costs related to mobile usage and set expectations at the time of employment.
If you’re a cleaning company considering implementing a mobile solution to manage your workforce, now is the time to do it.
A global pandemic has only accelerated the need to give your customers the confidence that cleaning services have been delivered on time and according to scope.
The cleaning companies that adopt a mobile-first strategy are going to be the winners in the future.
Ben Howden, is director of growth – APAC, TEAM Software. He can be reached at
This article first appeared in INCLEAN NZ magazine
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