With the advent of COVID-19, cleaning services have entered the mainstream consciousness. Even office workers who never thought twice about how the bathrooms were scrubbed or the floors were mopped are now very interested in how their offices are cleaned. As a result, facilities managers are demanding higher levels of disinfection than ever before—at a time when staffing shortages have gotten worse. But while these two trends are making life harder for the industry, other trends are coming to the rescue. Read on for our picks of the top five trends in custodial management.
Trend #1: Cleaning is now a strategic business imperative.
There has never been a more exciting time to be in the business of commercial cleaning. Office cleaning used to consist of tidying up and cleaning surfaces. Now, a healthy office environment can give companies an edge in attracting and retaining staff. With the pandemic and the increased awareness of airborne and surface-born illnesses that can be transmitted in shared indoor spaces, the race is on to offer the most reliable, proven cleaning services possible—or people won’t come to work. This is why new types of cleaning agents, cleantech, and hazard testing are being developed for a wide range of work environments.
Trend #2: The high turnover in staff will continue to rise.
Even in the best of times, turnover in the janitorial services space is 75 percent. But today’s business climate is more challenging than ever, leading experts to predict turnover rates as high as 400 percent. At this rate, cleaning businesses will be replacing their staff 1-2 times per year—at a cost of more than $50,000 annually. Given this high cost, cleaning businesses will be seeking to raise employee retention by providing training and advancement opportunities, improved safety conditions, and welcoming work environments.
Trend #3: Connected apps will bring new efficiencies.
Custodial services will continue to incorporate new technologies, including the use of apps to streamline services.
- Contractors will rely on apps to provide quotes, purchase supplies, and send invoices.
- At the worksite, new communication apps will allow custodial teams to receive instructions and instantly alert facility managers when a room or sector is cleaned. Teams will also be able to share images, so that managers can troubleshoot problems from their offices.
- New scheduling apps will enable cleaning personnel to self-schedule, pick up additional shifts, and track work time.
- Sophisticated analytics capabilities will enable managers to identify inefficiencies, coach team members, and continually optimize performance.
- Facilities managers will use easy-to-navigate apps to book routine and specialized cleaning services.
Trend #4: The use of robotics and other automation will escalate.
Labor shortages and high turnover have plagued the custodial industry for years, and the pandemic has only exacerbated those issues. This has led to the increased deployment of cleaning robots, which help mitigate staffing shortfalls by freeing janitorial workers to focus on high-value tasks. Here are the numbers:
- Autonomous cleaning robots generally cost in the range of $30,000 to $50,000.
- A commercial-grade, rider-style scrubber costs roughly $15,000 upfront. Labor costs bring the total annual cost of this technology to about $27,000.
As these numbers show, the investment in a robot pays off in about two years, assuming 20 hours a week of use.
Trend #5: The demand for green cleaning will continue to grow.
According to Prophecy Market Insights, the market for green cleaning products will triple to $11.6 billion by 2029, up from $3.9 billion in 2019. Key growth areas in 2022 are:
- Ultraviolet-C disinfection services: UV-C rays are highly effective—even against antibiotic-resistant superbugs—because they destroy the molecular bonds of the DNA of bacteria and viruses. Because of its disinfecting power, UV-C technology is being deployed in hospitals, schools, gyms, office buildings, and public transit.
- Steam cleaning: Steam was making a comeback even before the pandemic, especially in hospitals where healthcare-associated infections had risen, and it has since proven effective against the COVID-19 virus. Medical-grade steam cleaners neutralize the COVID-19 virus in two ways—high pressure rips the protective coating off the virus, allowing the associated heat to kill it. Steam is as green as you can get, and professional-grade steamers are as effective as traditional disinfectants like bleach.