Four cleaning and hygiene trends affecting healthy businesses

by FM Media
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On the other side of a COVID-induced transformation of cleaning protocols, Jonathan Weiss from Reckitt Pro Solutions tells FM about the new landscape for businesses and how facilities managers should respond to the changing needs and trends.

Few cleaning and hygiene products are as well-known and trusted in Australia as Dettoll, Airwick, Vanish, Finish and Mortein. But it has only been three years sinc these market-leading brands entered the professional space – landing at a time when businesses faced a daunting new reality.

“We saw an opportunity in the wake of the pandemic to help businesses reopen and establish better hygiene protocols to help them to encourage people to feel safe to re-enter, whether that was an employee or a patron,” recalls Jonathan Weiss, commercial director of business-to-business (B2B) UK, EUANZ at the company that manufactures these products, Reckitt.

Reckitt Pro Solutions thus became the company’s B2B offering. Although still young, Reckitt Pro Solutions delivers cleaning and hygiene brands with over 200 years of heritage.

Reckitt Pro Solutions is the b2b offering from Reckitt.

Weiss and his team have already implemented successful programs for iconic partners like the Sydney Opera House, Cricket Australia and Mirvac shopping centres. They’ve done all the surface care for high-touchpoint cleaning across 6300 Hilton Hotels in 188 countries and also worked with the British government to pull off the COP26 climate summit last year.

In his work with these partners, Weiss has observed four standout trends currently affecting cleaning and hygiene practices.

A new standard of cleanliness

The term ‘post-COVID’ is common these days, but the residue of coronavirus is not easy to wipe away. What sticks is a new standard of hygiene.

“People are now hyper aware of everything that they see and touch, and they expect the places to be clean,” says Weiss.

Reckitt recently undertook a study to understand just how important cleaning was in the hotel, restaurant and catering (HoReCa) industry. The study found 85 percent of people believe that the cleanliness of these facilities is as important as the taste of the food.

“Twenty-seven percent of people have walked out of a facility because it was dirty. Whether it’s dirty plates, cups and crockery, or elsewhere in the facility is dirty, people will walk out if it’s not clean,” he explains. 

“There is a standard of cleanliness now and it is higher than it was before COVID. Even if people don’t care about COVID anymore, they care about cleaning.”

Presenteeism

Another lockdown legacy is the popularisation of working from home, which has had a costly counterpoint of presenteeism.

“When businesses are mandating that employees must be in the office three days a week, it encourages or forces people to come in when they’re sick,” says Weiss.

In the UK alone, where Weiss is now based, an estimated 185.6 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in 2022.

“And think about what that does even to the FM world: how many cleaners are off sick? And then you’ve got labour shortages that you’ve got to cover. How many employees in a business are off sick? That is a huge cost in terms of efficiency and productivity,” he says.

Sustainability

Quite “frustratingly” for Weiss, sustainability concerns took a backseat during COVID, as businesses just wanted to “blast facilities and make them clean”.

“There was a massive amount of overuse of chemicals, which I don’t endorse even as a chemical manufacturer,” he says.

Businesses need to step up once again – and the good news is that they are.

“In a recent survey, 80 percent of businesses in Australia actually stated that sustainability is now their primary focus when it comes to product selection, which is up 25 percent versus a year ago,” he says. 

This has been reflected in the tender processes in which Weiss has participated, wherein almost without fail every FM company will ask about the sustainability credentials of Reckitt Pro Solutions and of each individual product. This had led to bold changes to Reckitt’s own business practices, including a transition to fully biodegradable wipes and the introduction of the Airwick 24-7 Aerosol-free Automatic Spray.

“Within the professional cleaning world and at a product level, we are not afraid to make big calls,” he says.

“We are the largest manufacturer of disinfectant wipes in the world at Reckitt and we made a call two years ago to stop selling plastic wipes.” 

Sustainability has reemerged as a ‘core trend’ but, in Weiss’ view, sustainability and effectiveness should never be separated.

“You should not be compromising between clean or green. You need to be able to provide both,” he says.Inflation

Inflation

The fourth and final trend Weiss has witnessed comes from a new crisis. According to recent data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, the top challenge faced by cleaning industry professionals in 2022 was inflation, followed by staffing shortages.

“What that means is that it puts more pressure on the bottom line for businesses and then on FMs for their contracts to be able to deliver solutions within budget,” Weiss says.

In this context, product cost reduction is not the primary solution Reckitt offers.

“It doesn’t help because actually labour is three times the cost of the cleaning product,” he explains. 

“The best thing that we can do as a manufacturer is actually provide faster, easier solutions that reduce labour, which can then save that money because that’s where the real cost sits within FM cleaning.”

Training staff about a targeted approach to cleaning can help save chemicals and costs.

A targeted approach

Reckitt Pro Solutions continues to operate in an incredibly important space as businesses assume greater risk and responsibility around cleanliness to protect public health and business bottom lines.

When it comes to selecting the best products and training for your cleaning program, Weiss’ expert team recommends avoiding a bleach-all solution. A targeted approach of ‘right product, right place, right time’ can clean up most messes.

“We build our range based on the room or the need more than anything else,” he says.

“If you use the right product in the right spot and you use it at the right frequency… you can use a lot less chemicals and save a lot of labour.”

Photography supplied by Reckitt Pro Solutions.

Lead image: Jonathan Weiss, commercial director of B2B UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand at Reckitt.

To find out more about Reckitt Pro Solutions or make an enquiry, head to the website.

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