22 Jul Diary of an Office Cleaner: It’s all Ups and Downs
Life as an office cleaner gives you a whole world of insight into office life that most people living the 9 to 5 grind don’t get to see. It’s not all just vacuuming and wiping. Sometimes we see some things that most people miss during the working day, or things that some people don’t want us to see. Here are a few of the fun little insights we get during the average shift.
You can’t hide trash
This is an odd one. We don’t know why, but for some weird reason, a lot of people try and hide trash around their office. It’s usually perfectly acceptable, normal trash to have, and we’re more than happy to take care of it when we come through for a major clean. We’ve seen all sorts of hidden trash.
When we do exit cleans after someone leaves the business and we need to clean their desk, cubicle or office, we often find drawers filled with food wrappers, boxes of trash that could have been removed months before, and much, much worse. Even during our regular weekly cleans, we’ll find evidence of an office party or some after-work drinks that has been covertly set aside for some poor cleaner to find several days later.
Far too many fire hazards
We see far too many fire hazards in the offices we clean. Trash definitely contributes to this, especially paper waste and similar trash. It stacks up over time and eventually you’ve got an absolute tinder box just waiting to go off. On a positive note, outside of the kitchen there really aren’t that many places that a fire can accidentally start inside the average office.
Don’t lay on the floor
Part of our duties involves getting the floor back into pristine shape at the end of each working week. Many offices are carpeted, and we get a good look at what gets sucked out of the carpet when we empty our vacuum cleaners. Despite the fact that most people show up to work fairly clean and tidy, stepping off a bus or out of a car and into the office after a brief stroll, it is surprising just how much dirt and dust ends up in the average office.
Now, we know that rolling around on the floor of the office isn’t exactly common practice. However, our office-dwelling friends have told us about morning stretch routines, “productivity sessions” that involve sitting cross-legged on the floor, pushup competitions and other weird and wonderful floor-based activities. Now, we don’t want to sound too precious about a bit of dirt and dust, but office floors really aren’t as clean as you would expect. Give it a miss if you can.
How does your desk get so messy?
Different offices have different requirements. Some want us to clear waste from desks, wipe them down, sanitise computer equipment and prepare the workspace for another week. At other offices, we are asked to avoid touching desk spaces entirely. It’s a situational thing, although many offices that request that we leave the desks alone could probably handle some additional cleaning around their workspaces.
It’s all about trust
At the end of the day, our customers trust us to do a great job cleaning their offices while respecting their privacy. We have a responsibility whenever we go into an office to not only leave the space in outstanding condition when we leave, but also to maintain standards of information privacy. That means taking nothing with us, reading nothing that concerns us, and remembering nothing that we see.
Sometimes, we can’t help that we see things. A whiteboard filled out with strategic planning, the title of a document left on a desk, image printouts pinned to a wall; anything can grab our attention while we’re doing the rounds. Usually, we’re far too preoccupied with our role to make any connections between the information we see and the outside world, but when it happens, we have to take our legal obligations seriously and keep quiet about what we’ve seen.
Overall, it’s not a bad gig
Despite the fact that we’re often hard-pushed to get through all of our tasks in a shift, and the non-stop nature of cleaning office after office, particularly during the weekend, it’s not a bad job. We find plenty of opportunities to have a laugh and enjoy what we’re doing, but above all the fun and games we know that our results will be judged. Being an office cleaner is like working in IT – if you do your job well, no one notices you even exist.