It’s time to bid adieu to 2021. Amidst all the excitement for the new year, let us not forget to take some time to reflect on the year that was - the learnings it brought and the lessons it taught to the cleaning industry. One thing is for certain - the commercial cleaning and hygiene industry has been revolutionized in the previous two years. There is more technological advancement than ever before. There is a heavy focus on green cleaning and sustainability as countries pledge to go eco-friendly. As the year 2021 comes to an end, we speak to a housekeeper, a soft FM professional and a soft services head about what this year has taught them.
Bhimrao Dhoble, Soft Service Head, Aster DM Healthcare
Being a part of the hospitality and healthcare sector for over 21 years, I have learnt quite a lot about best cleaning practices, budgeting, crisis management, people management, time management and many such areas.
The year 2020 was a year of exploring options to deal with the world's deadliest virus & crisis. Year 2021 was a year of learning to overcome crisis and explore new opportunities for business growth.
During the year 2021, I learned the following lessons to prepare myself to deal with all sorts of challenges and situations.
- Critical thinking & emergency responsiveness
Being part of the healthcare sector, emergencies are inevitable. Remaining calm in the face of adversity is the mark of a great leadership. Develop a crisis plan based on potential problems. Simulate a real crisis and involve the entire team. This will not only educate employees on their roles, but it will also help you identify any shortcomings in your crisis plan.
- Ability to analyze the crisis
Whether you are analysing financial data for a budgetary meeting with the management or configuring the clinic's redesign, strong analytical and critical thinking skills are essential to both you and your facilities success.
- Interpersonal skills
Soft Service management is a people-based profession in which every decision you make is centred around how you can better serve your customer’s needs. Your success as an SSM hinges on your ability to communicate, connect with, inspire, and engage your colleagues. Identify the objectives of the people you work with, learn what motivates them and commit yourself to forging professional connections that inspire everyone to be the best at what they do.
- Tech savvy
Technology plays an invaluable role in how facilities are run and how your workforce communicates. While it isn’t always necessary to be a tech expert, your employer will look to you to stay apprised of the latest developments in software, employee experience solutions, and mobility options that will help your organization work smarter and more efficiently.
The world of work is constantly changing, and we have witnessed that during 2020 & 2021. From agile working to interactive technology in the workplace, there's always a new trending topic in the industry worth exploring. As a workplace leader, it is your responsibility to always be looking ahead to see what your workforce might benefit from most. You know your organization like no one else, and it's up to you to keep them ahead.
Habib Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of ESAD SERVICES GROUP
This has been the second year affected by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and, just
when we seemed to be nearing the end of the crisis, new variants are causing global
concerns and some restrictions are returning. So, as the pandemic continues, what lessons have the last 12 months taught us about business and life in general?
I would like to highlight my five key learnings from 2021
Now is the new normal: There is no going back
The pandemic has caused many changes to the way we carry out our business and although some may return to pre-pandemic ‘norms’, in the main it looks like the changes are here to stay.
There have been very noticeable changes, such as the predominance of flexible working hours, remote working, and virtual meetings, but many other aspects of ‘traditional’ business culture have also had to change, in particular the increased reliance on digital and other technologies.
Change can happen very fast: Adapt to survive
Change is a constant, but sometimes the speed of change can take us by surprise. Businesses with more agile and flexible cultures, who are willing and able to adapt to change quickly, have a far better chance of surviving a crisis. In fact, they can quite often thrive from it by recognizing opportunities and being prepared to diversify.
Health and safety: About more than hard hats
Health and safety is now of paramount importance in every workplace around the world. Almost overnight, employers had to create and implement stringent hygiene measures, together with social distancing and other transmission-prevention protocols. Many people have now discovered that health and Safety is important in every single workplace, office and home, and not just on the construction site. We all now understand how viruses are transmitted and how to help prevent spreading them, and consequently hygiene standards have improved dramatically across the world.
We need disaster recovery and business continuity plans
It became very clear that most businesses were totally unprepared for a disaster of this kind. Even for those organizations that did have business continuity plans, they were often focused on power outages and IT network failures, and not on natural disasters or worldwide crises like COVID-19. Organizations have had to learn very quickly about how to keep their businesses functioning through a major crisis and just how important disaster recovery planning is.
Service excellence is more important than ever
The pandemic has made business far more collaborative. There is a definite sense that we are all in this together against a common foe and this has led to client/service supplier relationships becoming more ‘partnership-based’ than was previously the norm. Importantly, more than ever, clients need to be able to trust and rely on their service suppliers implicitly as any shortfalls in service can have dramatic effects. For outsource service partners like ESAD, being able to guarantee our clients service excellence in difficult times is what sets us apart.
Shafiqul Islam, Executive Housekeeper, Accor Hotels, Qatar
The year 2021 was challenging for the entire hospitality sector. This holds true especially for the housekeeping department as guest expectations for cleanliness have gone high due to current scenarios. To overcome that, we have learned new techniques and styles of doing our regular job to make the housekeeping department and our organization successful. Below are the new skills we implemented as a part of our learning:
- Multitasking within the department or organization.
- Flexibility for daily operation and departmental budgets.
- Balancing professional and personal space.
- Proactive and smart planning according to situations.
- Using resilience manning in the department.