Cleaning schedules can help you and your employees know what needs to be cleaned and how often it should be cleaned. It allows your employees to record what needs to be cleaned, how often it should be cleaned, when it is cleaned, and who cleaned it. However, in the Middle East, all cleaning schedules witness a disruption when Ramadan arrives. Suddenly, the peak times change, the inflow of people changes and so do cleaning schedules.
A restaurant’s perspective
With Ramadan, it is important to start working on the restaurant cleaning routine, since all the members of the staff will be having their Iftaar & Suhoor meals together. So it is important to organize the cleaning schedule of a restaurant well in advance for the month. Restaurant cleaning schedules focus on kitchen cleaning and front of house cleaning. Each of these spaces have to have a set cleaning schedule, checklist and frequency that is organized in terms of daily and monthly tasks. These checklists will help maintain a highly sanitary establishment & will help stay well-prepared for any surprise visits from restaurant health inspectors. Ahmed Altiti, Restaurant General Manager at Sedona Trading Company, Jordan highlights his checklist and hygiene plan for both these sections.
* Kitchen floor and counter cleaning
A checklist comes in handy
- Oven cleaning hacks
- Clean stainless steel appliances
- Clean refrigerators
- Kitchen sink cleaning
* Front of house
The front of house cleanliness specifically targets tasks that will help to achieve a beautifully-maintained front of house for patrons by make proper checklist is sectioned off by specific areas such as:
* Dining room:
- Wipe down the walls if necessary
- Sanitize the tables & chairs
- Inspect and wipe down the condiments and salt and pepper shakers
- Wipe down all the counters
- Clean the seats and benches
- Run cloth napkins
- Tablecloths & staff uniform
- Clean the interior and exterior of all the trash and recycling bins and mop the floors.
- Clean and sanitize restroom surfaces
- Disinfect the toilets
- Wipe down bathroom sinks
- Take out the bathroom trash
- Sweep and mop the restroom floors.
“However, Ramadan fasting is a form of time-restricted feeding, which combines a fast and feast period daily for a duration of one month every year during Ramadan. Muslims abstain from food & drink consumption from dawn till sunset and this change in the meal schedule and frequency results in significant changes to the composition of the cleaning schedule,” says Ahmed.
Unique challenges in Ramadan
Hygiene & cleanliness are conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease. Improving hygiene faces several problems especially in local & folk restaurants. Currently, many restaurants already struggle with short staff because of COVID-19 causing more pressure to limited resources, which in turn result in poor hygienic practices
To reduce these challenges, several measures have been proposed including employee empowerment, pushing for access to hygiene needs, etc. “In the holy month of Ramadan, when people observe a period of daily fasting and prayer, it is important to remember that this religious practice can continue despite COVID-19. To understand your employees' needs in this month, you should hold an open conversation with them and explore whether any additional measures can be introduced,” says Ahmed.
“Consider flexible shift rota working opportunities with staff, such as altering shift patterns or hours in order to manage any fatigue or drop in productivity that may occur as a result of daytime fasting. Although you can expect staff to book holidays using the normal procedure, it may be wise to take a more favourable approach to short-notice requests related to Ramadan & overlook procedure where necessary,” he continues.
Hygiene measures during peak times in Ramadan
As per Ahmed’s experience, the hygiene measures remain pretty much the same during Ramadan. As a precautionary measure, physical distancing of at least one metre is maintained, hand hygiene and usage of PPE is encouraged. Ahmed also ensures that hand-washing facilities are adequately equipped with soap and water, and provides alcohol-based hand-rub (60-80% alcohol) at the entrance to and inside the restaurant.
He also ensures the availability of disposable tissues and bins with disposable liners and lids, and the safe disposal of waste. He enforces thorough routine cleaning of venues,using detergents and disinfectants, especially the frequently-touched objects such as doorknobs, light switches and stair railings.
A cleaning specialist’s perspective
Ramadan has a great influence over cleaning and hygiene schedules over the world and communities fasting in GCC as well. Additionally, with the pandemic at play the overall impact of maintaining hygiene and cleanliness not only in GCC but also across the world has been critical during 2020 and 2021 as well.
“So, taking into consideration that Ramadan is about fasting and has a certain time/period to eat and drink which directly impact employees` working abilities, cleaning schedules have accordingly been changed. Secondly, there are also certain rules on working hours during Ramadan for certain categories of employees that employers should carefully consider, which are mostly about cultural sensitivities. And on the other hand, a forward plan should be implemented to ensure that the levels of customer service and business performance are maintained,” says Javid Ismailov, Cleaning and Waste Management Specialist, Host Country Services at Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Qatar.
As a summary, the maximum working hours generally in GCC is about 6 hours per day and 36 hours per week and schedules can be changed as per employees. More importantly, the reduction in working hours applies to all employees regardless of faith or position. However, in some countries it changes, for instance, KSA, does not apply it to non-Muslim employees and people doing cleaning work or the ones holding higher positions. Nevertheless, employers should be mindful that fasting Muslim employees should not work overtime unless this is for an unavoidable reason. Lastly, shifts have to be arranged as per Ramadan timing of GCC countries which can help employees break their fast at a certain time. Javid also believes that it would be more suitable to assign them for evening and night shifts to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Furthermore, he shares the following tips:
- Planning the work of fasting employees mostly in indoor areas or the meeting can be set in the morning or at the start of an employee's shift when they have the most energy.
- Organizing annual leaves days and encouraging rests and breaks, medical support during Ramadan (warning signs of fatigue and dehydration).
- Planning your workload and getting at least 7 hours sleep a night.
He also shares a list of specific hygiene measures that can be taken during peak times in Ramadan and the pandemic:
- Physical distancing between people at all times.
- Personal hygiene is to be maintained continuously while fasting, and the rules and regulations are to be fully followed.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Culturally and religiously sanctioned greetings that avoid physical contact such as waving, nodding or placing the hand over the heart.
- While breaking the fast it is better every single person has got his/her own plates, forks etc.
- Employers are to provide training and warning / safety signs over the walls, entrances, lifts etc.
- Do not stop hydrating until the start of fasting, do more things in the morning.
- Keep washing your hands as per guidelines and take a daily shower.
Rajesh Balakrishnan, Senior Manager, FM Soft Services at Mosanada FMS, Qatar, also shares his vast experience with regard to Ramadan cleaning schedules. “During Ramadan, we normally reduce manpower in the morning shift and increase the manpower in the evening shift, so all cleaning schedules are changed i.e. deep cleaning activities are scheduled in the morning shift and general cleaning and maintenance in the evening shift. Also due to COVID-19 pandemic, as per local authorities instructions and the clients request all the cleaning services providers should not interact with them and to keep a safe and right social distance while working in the morning shift. So I noticed there are no such impacts in the cleaning schedule during the month of Ramadan and it is quite peaceful for the cleaning service providers to accomplish their cleaning schedule appropriately,” he says.
Rajesh believes that the cleaning and hygiene challenges of Ramadan have now changed to opportunities. Any challenge can now be overcome with appropriate micro monitoring, supervision, on-job training, following and accomplishing the cleaning work schedules on time, reporting in a timely manner, regular cleaning observation and cleaning audits, placing continual improvement plans, etc.
Considering 06 hours duty during Ramadan, Rajesh respects and complies with the local rules and regulations. Shifts are managed with three different timings i.e. 5 am to 12 pm, 12 pm to 7 pm and 7 pm to 1 am (06hrs duty and 01 hour break).
To summarize, the cleaning schedules and procedures do change in Ramadan, considering many employees are fasting. However, this change of routine does not really hamper the cleaning operations.