Studies have found that there is a direct correlation between cleanliness of an office or workspace and the productivity of the staff that work there. The US Center for Facilities research recently carried out a study, co-sponsored by the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), in which it was discovered that levels of cleanliness had a significant effect on the levels of productivity and learning in employees and learners in Higher Education. It was discovered that in a sample of 1,481 people, 88% were adversely affected in terms of productivity and learning by visible signs of dirt and neglect in the office.
The main factors that contributed to participants becoming distracted or lethargic were visible traces of dirt and grime on walls or in corners; surfaces with noticeable dust, dirt, smudges, marks, or fingerprints; worn carpets or damaged flooring; bad smelling or over-flowing bins; and dirty or burned-out lamp fixtures. The findings showed that productivity rose significantly in workspaces where these issues were effectively dealt with by a commercial cleaning team.
There are various factors that can explain this correlation. Firstly, bad smells, stains, or flickering lights can cause distractions. Employees’ concentration will be constantly directed away from their work and towards issues like these. Secondly, the cleanliness of an office environment has a huge psychological impact. If the management are happy to let the office fall into a neglected or dirty state, it sends a clear message to the subconscious of employees that some things simply aren’t worth their time and that upholding only very basic standards is good enough.
In an environment in which only major maintenance issues are dealt with, people will only do as much as they have to. In an environment that is kept pristine and work is done to prevent cleanliness or maintenance issues before they even arise, employees are much more likely to strive for the same level of perfection in their work. Most people feel like more is expected of them if standards are high even in regards to office cleanliness.
It is clear that cleanliness in the workplace is important for productivity. Some employers try to ensure that their office is kept clean and tidy by giving each employee individual responsibility for maintaining and cleaning their work station and communal areas. The thinking behind this approach is that costs can be cut by working these tasks into the job descriptions of existing employees, without having to pay out for external commercial cleaning services. Unfortunately, this strategy is likely to backfire. The rise in productivity achieved through keeping the office clean will be counteracted by the drop in productivity induced by employees having to use some of their work time to clean. It is fine, and even positive, to expect a minimum standard of tidiness and cleanliness form each employee – but it is unrealistic to expect them to take care of anything beyond their desk or workstation, and perhaps communally used facilities such as microwaves or cups.
Hiring a professional commercial cleaning company to come in once or twice a week can make a huge difference to your office environment and company culture. They will ensure that all surfaces and flooring are kept in pristine condition – not only meaning that staff morale and productivity is raised, but also lowering maintenance cost by prolonging the life of fixtures, fittings and décor. The work will more than pay for itself in terms of the rise in productivity enjoyed in a clean, fresh office space.