How has housekeeping services changed during the coronavirus pandemic?
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On the frontline with… Monika Mazengo, Housekeeping Team Leader at Anabas
  • Monika Mazengo, housekeeping team leader at Anabas, tells us about her role and how it has changed during the coronavirus pandemic…

Please tell us about your current role and responsibilities

I have been working at this client site for nine years now and transferred  to Anabas in 2017. I am a Housekeeping Team Leader and I’m responsible for making sure that all three buildings we manage are cleaned to a very high standard. I look after a team of 10 cleaners and compile our daily rota and task lists, and work with the helpdesk and the site security teams to action any urgent requirements.

I also look after some sub-contractors including window cleaners, pest control, carpet cleaners, landscaping and waste management companies. As part of my role, I’m also responsible for stock ordering, payroll for my team and recruitment and training. I ensure all our new recruits are given the relevant training and toolbox talks, and their RAMS and COSHH folders are up to date.

Before joining Anabas, our cleaning was done out of hours. Now we are onsite during the day and it is great to be able to build relationships with employees and visitors to the site.

  • How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19? 

We’ve always been focused on maintaining a safe and healthy environment so day-to-day the role hasn’t changed too much. That is still our focus.

The main difference was when lockdown started and we were working in an empty office. As a result of that and to make sure we were keeping everyone safe, we reduced working hours to two hours each day, and operated in two bubbles. Within those reduced hours we prioritised the main tasks, focusing on clearing rubbish and cleaning the toilet facilities.

As things have started opening up again, we are slowly increasing hours. We now have between 300 and 400 people on site in shifts, so the challenge has become ensuring we have enough wipes, sanitisers and hand towels. It has been difficult to source the appropriate PPE and sanitising materials so we have had to approach new suppliers to help keep our teams safe. We are, of course, making extra efforts to disinfect door handles, buttons, printers, handrails, tv touch screens, all the areas that people touch, more frequently. We’ve also increased cleaning services in the meeting rooms as they are now also being used for lunch breaks.

As part of the process of reopening the sites, all of the risk assessments were reviewed and amended to allow for the new social distancing requirements. We also made sure that signage was added throughout. There is now a one-way system in place and a restriction on the number of people able to use the toilet facilities at one time, but everyone is getting used to the changes we’ve had to make.

It’s nice to see people coming back. They really appreciate the work that we’re doing and often take the time to ask how we are.  

What’s it been like working on the front-line during the crisis, particularly in buildings which are empty/ at reduced occupancy? 

We did reduce our hours, as we were working in buildings that were largely not being used. We focused our efforts on the most used, most important areas. It meant that even if we were on reduced hours, we were able to keep busy which had a really positive effect on our mental wellbeing.

It was quite a strange environment for some time though. It’s always quiet at Christmas time, the number of people around dramatically reduces then, but this was even more quiet, which was very unusual.

We had to keep in mind that everyone had their own response to what was happening. Some people were very worried. Some had vulnerable family members at home, or childcare concerns, and some were really struggling. My main priority was to support my team and maintain the team spirit that we have. It meant making sure to chat with everyone, every day, being available and approachable so they could discuss concerns with me. We provided emergency holiday where needed and allowed people to adjust their hours to accommodate their other responsibilities – as a team, we all really stepped up to help each other.

  • Do you think people’s perception of facilities management and your role will change as a result of the crisis? 

It feels like there is a much greater appreciation for what the cleaning teams do now. There is a greater awareness that some people choose to work in this industry and that we don’t all fall into it because we don’t have other options. There is more recognition that what we do every day isn’t easy and that it deserves respect.

What are you most looking forward to about the post-pandemic world?

I’m very much looking forward to the Christmas period. I’m hopeful that we will be able to bring an element of normality, and fun, to our sites through our decorations and installations. We work with a wonderful company to bring in trees and garlands to make the place feel very festive.

Outside of work, the one thing I’m most looking forward to is being able to travel and see my family in the Czech Republic. This has reinforced how important they are to me and I’ve missed them.

  • What positive things do you think we can take into the post-pandemic world?

People have been more kind to each other and helped each other more. This is definitely something we should all take forwards. Kindness goes a long way.

  • What has been the highlight during your time at Anabas?

I have been working at this location for more than nine years now and I really love my job. I get great satisfaction from helping people and problem solving, and I enjoy the fact that the work we do makes a real difference to our client and the people who work here.

Anabas has been incredibly supportive as well and the company’s recognition of how hard we work and appreciation makes a real difference.

  • What’s your favourite thing about working in FM?

The people I work with, my team and sub-contractors, are so important to me. The people you work with, really make a difference to how your day goes and I’m very lucky that the people around me make it a positive experience.

I also really enjoy being helpful to others and making a difference. I like making things easier for people, making them smile and delivering on our promises.

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