The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how we all work and live. It has also fundamentally changed the cleaning industry, re-shaping expectations and shifting requirements. Coronavirus continues to impact how all professional cleaning companies do business. From service design to staffing, everything is different – and companies must adapt to continue to provide their essential services. Here are three ways we think the pandemic has changed the cleaning industry and why you need to know about them.

  1. More than cleaning

Cleaning in a post-covid world has fundamentally changed. Cleaning now means sanitising premises. Organisations and employers have an essential duty to protect staff, clients, and customers, say the HSE – and cleaners are required to ensure this is provided.

Alongside new responsibilities are new tools, techniques, and technologies that cleaners must use. For example, disinfection and deep cleaning are no longer specialist services, but now standard for cleaning companies.

Clients are increasingly more demanding. They will want information and assurance that cleaning standards are maintained. Therefore, cleaning firms need to become better communicators, providing real-time information to all clients on the status of their services and contracts.

  1. Staff shortages

The cleaning industry is experiencing “severe” staff shortages, compounded by COVID-19. The pandemic hit just as staffing challenges caused by Brexit began to bite. As a result, there is a growing gap between open roles and staff to fill them. 

In some cases, furloughed staff have taken alternative employment. Some have transferred to other sectors, attracted by higher wages or more flexible jobs.

Even organisations with appropriate levels of staff are suffering, with high levels of COVID-19 absence a common concern. 

Cleaning companies can’t rely on a source of available labour. Instead, they must more effectively manage the staff they have. Other solutions include encouraging applications from a broader range of potential employees, offering more flexible solutions and in some cases, paying more.

  1. Diversify for success

Cleaning businesses are having to diversify to continue to succeed. The pandemic showed that those cleaning businesses quickest to adapt were most successful. 

Diversification typically means adding more services, having different types of clients or extending service hours to clients. 

Contract Cleaners serving retail clients have most acutely felt the need to diversify. As shops, entertainment venues, and commercial premises were forced to close their doors during the pandemic, to survive, those cleaning businesses often moved to new clients in different sectors to minimise the impact.

Innovation is essential to all successful businesses and shouldn’t be feared. However, cleaning companies must ensure they have the scale and back-office solutions to expand into new areas. 

But remember that diversifying into new areas introduces more competition into the marketplace that can drive down prices. 

The new normal

COVID-19 has changed the cleaning industry forever, establishing a new normal in terms of services and solutions. To remain successful and profitable, cleaning businesses must recognise these challenges and react.

Your service offer must change to reflect the new demands of clients. In time, you may choose to review and refine your market offer, diversifying into new areas to remain relevant. You’ll need a strategic plan to ensure you have the staff available to complete all contracts. Behind the scenes, you’ll need to develop new back-office systems and solutions to improve communication with customers.

While the situation and circumstances may have changed the fundamentals of a successful cleaning business remain the same, delivering exceptional services for customers.