Home' Inclean NZ : INCLEAN NZ Feb 2018 Contents INCLEANNZ Februar y 2018 15
Mobile technology continues to find new ways to disrupt and
challenge traditional industries around the world. Moreover, the rapid
adoption of smartphones and tablets in our personal lives is finding its
way into the workforce, with more and more companies realising the
operational benefits of mobile technology.
Like many markets around the world the increasing demand for
transparency, facilitated by low-cost mobile devices and data plans,
has driven the uptake of mobile devices in New Zealand’s commercial
cleaning industry, with software programs today enabling contractors
to monitor staff and provide real-time data to clients.
According to ISS Facility Services CIO IT, Luke O’Brien, mobile
software is beneficial from both a client’s perspective – providing
evidence cleaning has been performed – and an employer’s perspective
in regards to insurance and compliance if trips, slips or falls occur.
“Clients increasingly want more infor mation about where their cleaning
resources go and we’re interested from a compliance point of view.”
Another major recent change is the type of software available in
the market. Michael Brown, CEO of Swept, a Canadian janitorial
software company, says software today is now designed with the user
front of mind.
“Software 10 years ago meant something very different to what it
is today. Before, you could build a piece of software that was better
than an excel spreadsheet, but it didn’t offer much to the user. Today’s
software is all about the user.
“The bar has ultimately been raised. Cleaning is all about attention
to detail, but quite often, the details aren’t communicated to the
cleaner who is expected to carry out the work,” explains Brown.
“Some companies hire and fire cleaners so quickly the new teams of
cleaners don’t even know what is expected of them. Technology is
guiding cleaners as to what to do.”
Accountability and transparency
Virtual Manager director Anil Patel says there is a lot more discipline,
rigour and accountability for cleaners and equipment as clients seek
“The demand for this kind of technology comes from clients
wanting to see value for money; they want to insure that the work is
completed efficiently. From an insurance point of view as well, with
accidents like trips, slips and falls, businesses require evidence that
these activities are occurring.”
“[Mobile] is allowing for a lot more efficiency with the cleaners
because you can benchmark perfor mance individually on tasks, but
the main thing is it’s really trying to drive costs down so there is a
reduction in labour.”
Patel says timesheet fraud, which was previously a common
problem felt among his clients, is less of an issue today thanks to more
advanced data systems.
“Owners now have more money to invest in technology that allows
them to check whether the cleaner started cleaning at 9am, or
whether he was turning up to the job late.”
According to O’Brien automation has improved the level of service
and efficiency for delivery of that by ISS to clients. In January 2017
the company launched its custom-built app which gives all field-based
employees mobile access to their payroll, rosters, annual leave data
and company information.
Built in partnership with Mumba Cloud, the app allows team
members to apply for leave electronically and access previous
pay slips. Managers are able to approve leave electronically.
ISS’ Australian cleaning division was the first to trial the app,
which has been rolled out across sites including regional airports in
Tasmania and a multitude of cleaning contracts across Queensland,
Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
“Information that could never be accessed before is now sent to us
almost instantly. The devices we use notify us immediately whether or
not someone has attended a site so we can ensure the job gets done.
It’s helping us deploy more efficiently and effectively, as well as assist
with the administration side of things.”
Mobile learning has also become a common training method by
cleaning companies, which Patel believes is helping to empower and
“In the past, training was very much classroom focused whereas
now, we see cleaners with training videos, data safety sheets and other
electronic material on their phone. They don’t need to come into the
office or pick up laminated cards; all their training and learning is
readily available to them.
“I think cleaners have been asking for this training method for
a while, but are almost treated like second-class citizens. Giving a
cleaner a mobile phone with all their training on there is like saying,
‘here is your opportunity to learn more – and if you learn more, you
can move up to a higher pay grade’.
“The technology can help cleaners feel engaged with the company
whereas before I think they sometimes felt a bit isolated and that no
one valued what they did.”
While smartphones are simplifying the training process, helping
employees understand how to use their mobile device correctly
remains a challenge.
O’Brien says ISS is “fine tuning” its digital training methods.
“Cleaners are now expected to be mobile phone savvy, and for
some cleaners, that can be quite challenging. We have to merge new
technology with old school employees. There is a bit of a generational
change taking place as our cleaners adapt and we find the right way to
ease them into that space.
“We started with face-to-face group training sessions, which included
video content, with 15 to 30 people but found that needed to be
supplemented into smaller group sessions of around five.
“Eighteen months ago we didn’t see there being any chance we
could get all our cleaners to use mobile phones. But since the use of
smart phones is increasing at such a rapid rate, we think we can be in
a position within the next few years where our cleaners can use their
own phones, or we put phones into the hands of every cleaner without
While technology is simplifying operations and training, there are still
barriers, with offline capabilities and roll out costs among some of the
major hindrances felt by the industry.
“Offline capabilities have been a huge issue for cleaners working in
remote sites, like a basement for example, where there is no phone
“Technology is an investment
throughout the entire team and a
lot of people miss that. They buy
it to solve one issue and move on.
Businesses need to assess what
their challenges are... Knowing that
will drive the right IT outcome.”
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