Managing a cleaning business during COVID-19

George Stamas, managing director of GJK Facility Services, talks leadership, learnings, and life post-COVID-19.

How prepared was GJK for COVID-19?

Whilst no one was prepared for COVID-19, GJK Facility Services was able to respond to the rapid onset of this devasting virus in a very timely manner. This was in part due to a few factors:

Firstly, GJK was in the process of reviewing our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and subsequent pandemic policy (based off the Spanish influenza pandemic) so enacting these action items was very quick. This included the establishment of a pandemic leadership committee, who worked tirelessly to ensure all aspects of not only our people, our clients but our business were always protected.

Secondly, GJK’s operations team were truly remarkable. Once the business sought and confirmed the best method to counter COVID-19, we established a COVID Leadership Team. This frontline management team consisted of leaders from our healthcare, transport, and education sectors, who (having already been trained on infection control) were able to quickly learn the appropriate processes, equipment, PPE and methodologies to tackle COVID-19.

From this, the leadership team worked with our HO departments to develop workshops, videos, and online learning systems, to rapidly train their own supervisors and frontline leaders on what they learnt…. and all within hours! This was quite a feat – considering we manage some of the country’s largest busiest public areas, high profile government facilities which had not shut at that stage.

To say we are proud of our frontline team on how they are handling this pandemic would be an understatement. We are all forever indebted to them for their service.

It continues to be a challenging time for employers and staff alike. How has GJK maintained personnel during lockdown restrictions?

Yes, this has been a brutal time for all Australians, whether you are the employee or the employer it has affected us all in so many ways, and no one is or was immune.

As a business leader the impact on staff has been the biggest challenge. This includes fears around the virus, isolation, and the psychological impact overall that this has had on many people in general.

So, our pandemic committee have been very mindful of this and ensured we constantly looking at ways to check- in and support our teams.

From a personnel perspective, it has battered me how tough this has been on our industry. With significant reductions across certain sectors, a reduction is staff was always inevitable.

However, I believe GJK has mitigated as much loss as we could by operating across a broad range of sectors. And, where some sectors had closed, others like transport and government have ramp up cleaning services and this gave us the opportunity to retain and redeploy wherever possible. Which has helped keep most of our team employed.

Likewise, from a head office or a management perspective, we were able to redeploy or retrain staff in other functions of the business that were in demand. This has managed to keep the impact low, but it’s been a very tough time for everyone.

What practices/protocols have been implemented by GJK to adhere to current re-opening requirements?

Due to current government requirements our head office is continuing to operate as a work from home basis. We have been able to ensure that whilst doing this it has also not impacted the work we do for our clients.

However, when our staff are required to enter our head office, we have put in place a process to ensure their safety. This includes temperature scanners at the front entrance, sign in logbooks, doors have made automatic or have been left open.

We have also positioned multiple touch free hand sanitisers around the office space and lastly have placed our very own “welcome back packs” on their desks. This initiative was developed to ensure both our team and our clients are ready to reenter the workforce.

In addition to this, we have also taken multiple steps to ensure our frontline team members and their health are always maintained. This includes, adhering to social distancing measures, staggered start times, review front line staff based on high risk (age and illness) and navigating ways to limit their exposure.

Looking to the future, how do you see current events impact on cleaning and the demand for cleaning services post-COVID-19? Will there be greater emphasis and expectations of cleaning services? 

Throughout this time, I feel as though cleaning in general has been brought to the fore, with a greater value placed on its importance and the importance of people doing the work… our frontline heroes.

From a business perspective, I believe elevated cleaning standards are a major priority for many businesses, not just from a hygiene or infection control perspective, but also for the wellbeing of their staff as they return to work.

People want to feel safe and know their employer cares, so this will create a big focus on “visible” workplace and daytime cleaning.

Lastly, is there any advice you would like to give businesses reopening soon?

Absolutely. Be prepared and put your people first. Whether it’s your office team, your cleaning staff or contractors that come onsite, you need to set up systems and processes to not only ensure the health and wellbeing of your team but prepare to support the mental wellbeing of them as well.

One thing my team have rolled out both internally and to our clients is our ‘welcome backpack’. The packs are a simple gesture, which includes a ‘5 steps to stay safe’, hand sanitisers, anti-bacterial wipes which all formed a pack for clients to provide to their staff as they returned to work.

Lastly, I would not be doing my job as managing director if I didn’t mention our business, so if you need help in any way, reach out. The team at GJK would be more than happy to help you get back to workforce and get back to bringing our country back to where it needs.

This article first appeared in the July/August issue of INCLEAN magazine

Read the original article here. 

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