The Return to the Office in the New Normal


We have finally had the news we were all looking for! The end of lockdown plans in line with the phenomenal delivery of the Covid vaccine, enables us to dream of a time when we will be able to spend social time with friends and family and to revisit our face to face relationships with colleagues.

So, what does this all mean for the future of the cleaning industry and how does the industry utilise the goodwill it has generated from being the emergency service in sanitisation and safety over the last 12 months?

Fundamentally the cleaning industry is on the map. It’s about harnessing this position and setting standards that the industry will consider the new benchmark for the future. A new, higher benchmark for a new normal. We can also become commercially astute and demand inbuilt contractual flexibility, that will truly enable the sector to adapt to client’s needs and achieve absolute excellence at every turn.

Most certainly however, gone should be the days of accepting low performance standards and a cheap service, that delivers limited benefits.

As an industry we must not fear saying no to being backed in a corner where we know that the end result will be a weak product.

We can collectively and as individual contractors take a stance that delivering absolute excellence is the minimum requirement. This approach, combined with delivering said excellence through trained, vetted, highly skilled and properly motivated staff, finally provides a winning formula to come out of the pandemic and for the years ahead.

This change may come at a slightly higher charge to clients but the safety and security that an outstanding cleaning regime will deliver, will far outweigh the perceived downsides. Indeed, being able to truly present an environment that meets with workers expectations and requirements, will facilitate a greater output and enhanced, overall commercial benefit.

In every sense, an improved approach will work for the client and their stakeholders.

That first day back in the office will be special for employees who may not have met any of their peers, face to face, for well over a year.

Expectation will not be as it was, and the FM industry and clients must deliver on these cultural changes.

We must work together to ensure that the day 1 feel is different to the day that employees left.

It’s then about retaining those standards and not allowing complacency, from both parties, to set in.

We must ensure that workspace users are comfortable in their surroundings. That sanitisation standards are continually high and that we all continue to challenge the norm. True partnerships will be key.

Indeed, there may need to be a cultural change across all workplaces, most notably in how workplaces should be used and how services are delivered. This cultural shift is further exacerbated through the absolute likelihood that hybrid home and office working models will be used.

Contractor teams will have to employ an eyes up view on usage, to maximise value through only serving those areas used and potentially not the whole space. This has been discussed for years, but has it ever truly been implemented?

In all, it all sounds very basic doesn’t it. And there can be no excuses, it’s not like we haven’t been waiting for a year or so for this moment...

A new normal requires a new approach, a new standard and a new level of excellence. We as an industry, as a collective, will deliver this and that first day back will be special.

It’s then up to all of us to ensure that new normal is a positive and progressive time for all.

- Caroline Hutchins, Operations Director