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Responses to COVID-19 has speeded digital transformation for business

The cleaning sector emerged from ‘hidden’ workers to frontline workers overnight. If we were to get a handle on the virus, then cleaning was a number one priority if business operations were to continue.

Responses to COVID-19 have speeded the adoption of digital technologies by several years across all industries throughout the world. As we entered 2020, and before the pandemic unfurled, there was a huge technology shift already taking place, businesses were rolling out new digital strategies to meet commercial demands – in the way they sell, in the way market themselves and in the way they recruit.

The gig economy was booming and employers were very quick to look at changing their business models to suit. No one could have anticipated the speed of implementation when COVID hit and lockdowns were enforced.

The cleaning sector emerged from ‘hidden’ workers to frontline workers overnight. If we were to get a handle on the virus, then cleaning was a number one priority if business operations were to continue. A British Cleaning Council audit of members in December 2020 showed that organisations and individuals had to adapt rapidly to the major changes brought by the virus.

A consistent theme throughout is praise for the dedication of the cleaning and hygiene operatives who have been doing vital work protecting the health and wellbeing of others and keeping key industries going since the pandemic began. The Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (AHCP) represents many of the cleaning and hygiene key workers who have been on the frontline fighting the virus.

Delia Cannings, AHCP National Lead for Education and Training, said: “Cleaning operatives in the healthcare sector played a key role during the pandemic and have done an incredible job, with many going above and beyond, working longer hours, taking on extra responsibilities and adopting new standards and practices to prevent Covid-19 contamination. AHCP members played a vital role getting the Nightingale Hospitals set up and staffing them and will continue to operate them in the coming months as we strive to recover and avoid spikes in Coronavirus cases.”

Jim Melvin is a director at the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) and Deputy Chair at the British Cleaning Council (BCC). He echoes praise for cleaning operatives and highlights the uncertainty caused by the virus among cleaning contractors.

Mr Melvin said: “Coronavirus has changed the contract cleaning market significantly but it is different for every business. A great many buildings and businesses remain closed and many staff are furloughed. When clients have returned, they are at significantly reduced staff levels, which by definition reduces the service. Clients are changing their requirements on an almost daily basis and members are needing to be agile and flexible enough to reflect that. Our cleaning and hygiene operatives have faced an unbelievably difficult and fearful time responding both bravely and magnificently to all this.”

To top a very difficult situation, commercial cleaning companies who had not already embraced digitalisation for managing their remote workforce, all of a sudden they needed to have systems in place to track and schedule their staff and ensure payroll was fully integrated.