Industry Leaders Forum: Lauren Micallef, ISSA

Lauren Micallef, Oceania Manager, ISSA 

How was 2021 for ISSA Oceania? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

In a time when companies needed to remain agile what we saw was an increase in the number of people wanting to engage with industry news and information.

As a result, this year ISSA Oceania focused on education and training and developed a comprehensive range of webinars and online learning programs.

These sessions grew in traction and attendance, with companies registering from not only across Oceania and Asia Pacific regions but also Canada, United States, South America, the Middle East, and Europe.

In September and October 2021 alone, we saw on average 200-250 registered attendees for each webinar.

An increase desire to keep abreast of industry news and information also saw a rise with INCLEAN subscribers.

The magazine experienced a 15 per cent increase in online subscriptions throughout 2021, with more individuals wanting to remain up to date with trends and information related to the cleaning industry. This involved an increase in subscribers from within the industry as well as related fields.

A convergence formed within the market, there was an increase in public awareness of ‘clean’, mixed with more detailed requirements from clients, combined with tightening budgets.

As a result, in 2021 the Value of Clean tools were updated, and the report launched with current data collected from all over the world.

Our aim was to support members in making the business case that cleaning is a critical investment in better occupant health, a more confident society, and a better bottom line for facilities. This was incredibly relevant as companies re-entered and exited COVID-19 related lockdowns.

We saw a resurgence locally with members accessing the information to utilise and help support the position that cleaning is economically efficient and, thus, how even a relatively modest investment in improved cleaning produces substantial returns.

We also updated and localised related tools such as the metric version of the ISSA Calculator. Our members have found these to be incredibly valuable resources as they address their post-pandemic future.

Globally ISSA, in collaboration with RGX Cross Border Trade Experts, launched ISSA Market Consulting Services to help cleaning industry companies explore new customer networks and build partnerships globally.

Locally we have been supporting companies as they investigate ways to broaden their business and reassess their direction and traction into the future.

How has the public’s expectations of ‘clean’ changed as a result of the pandemic and what impact will these new expectations have on the industry, in terms of cleaning standards and processes, in 2022?

The question ‘what does ‘clean’ mean, is not new to the industry. In fact, there have been many articles, panels and webinars surrounding this topic over the years.

However, the latest pandemic has brought to the forefront the essential role that cleaning, and hygiene play in the management of pandemics and infectious diseases.

As a result, what has become clear is that the cleaning industry are frontline workers and form a major component of the backbone of our economy. It has also reinforced what the industry has been trying to communicate throughout the years.

With a public that is more aware of ‘clean’, it places additional requirements on facilities to maintain a higher level of clean throughout their buildings and venues.

This carries a ripple affect across the industry as cleaning tasks increase and/or adjust. There is a need to not only look clean, but to be safe and understand how this can be verified.

The issue comes with balancing and managing expectation, cost and deliverables. It cannot be more for less or the same.

As contracts are reviewed there needs to remain a continual dialogue with facility managers to ensure there is a clear understanding about what is being requested and what can be offered.

These learnings form the foundation of our ISSA CCE and AAP courses, which also supports a sustainable return on investment for all stakeholders.

What additional challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry in 2022?

Supply chain will continue to remain a focal point in 2022. One of the most important commercial lessons to emerge from COVIS-19 was the heightened importance of supply chain management and procurement.

There was a risk to not adjusting business behaviours accordingly and the need to remain agile and pivot at a moment’s notice will still be required during a period that looks more optimistic but still entails risk.

The new age of cleaning requirements will continue to impact roles, responsibilities and expectations of facility managers, end users and building service contractors.

Demand for new products and services will continue to develop and increase as ongoing needs emerge presenting market opportunities.

In order to develop and support these ongoing needs, regular training and development will need to be prioritised. This is particularly the case as employee safety and well-being remains an area of focus.

With COVID-19 playing a dominant role for the past 18-24 months there will be a focal shift back to social, ethical and sustainable procurement.

This first appeared in the February issue of INCLEAN NZ magazine. 

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