A1 Cleaning Services Blog

Best Practices for Singapore Office Cleaning [Infographic]

Office Cleaning Best Practices: A practical guide to ensure high cleaning standards for your Office

If you’re an office admin or facility manager of a Grade A, B or even C office in Singapore, you have probably engaged a local cleaning agency before. Every corporate or business premises needs a strict regime of upkeep and maintenance.

The question now is do you receive the level of service you expect? And if you don’t, then is there a procedure that’s followed to ensure quality standards are met.

In fact many a time’s office managers or business owners themselves are ignorant of the standards that should be expected from their cleaning contractor. And without set guidelines and processes it’s difficult to address any of this.

So in this post, we’ll lay out Office Cleaning Best Practices for you along with an Infographic that’ll serve as a handy guide for quick reference in the Singapore context. And thus, help you improve the quality of cleaning service that your company deserves!

spic and span work desk

Benefits of having high Cleaning Standards for your Office

Well, this one’s a no brainer….who doesn’t like a neat and clean environment? But wait…

Besides the hygiene aspect, a clean workplace also equates to a happy and healthy workforce. Its boosts staff morale and their delivery potential enabling them to focus on key result areas rather than on cleaning up. This in turn improves the productivity level of the company.

A clean office also portrays a good corporate image to customers and clients. It affects the way customers perceive your business, to be a trustworthy and professional one.

As a service buyer you need to ensure that your expectations for cleanliness, productivity and service quality are first set, then met by your service provider. This can be achieved through a well-crafted contractual agreement, work process efficiency, by leveraging tools & automation; thereby raising productivity and reducing reliance on additional manpower.

A Four-pronged approach to ensure high standards for Office Cleaning

Infographic on cleaning best practices

A balanced and all-encompassing approach is needed to ensure cleaning standards for office and commercial premises.  Starting with –

1. Setting Cleaning Procedures, Leveraging Tools & Equipment

Prescribed cleaning sequence/procedures, following the right methods and using correct equipment help deliver a better work outcome. A sample cleaning procedure would be –

  1. Prepare & Inspect – Don personal protective equipment (e.g. Gloves, covered shoes, etc), check condition of tools, display signage at work area, perform colour fastness test for chemicals used, remove furniture and obstacles beginning cleaning tasks
  2. Tackle Spillages & Stains – Clear spillages with absorbent materials, spray tested chemicals to remove carpet or flooring stains
  3. Vacuuming – Vacuum the carpet floor section by section working from far end to near end, arrange furniture back. Use Vacuum Cleaners with appropriate attachments
  4. Empty Dustbins – Tie & remove bin liner placing them in a larger disposal bags
  5. Clean Horizontal Surfaces – Spray cleaning chemical onto cleaning cloth, wipe horizontal surfaces like tables, shelves, desk etc
  6. Clean Pantry – Repeat above steps for the pantry. Ensure food waste is not be left overnight. Sweeping and mopping (damp mop) of the floor is a must
  7. Re-instate & Finish – Check if work is done as per requirements, remove disposal bags to designated collection points, remove signage, return tools & equipment back to the store, and then wash hands for good personal hygiene

As a service buyer, you should specify upfront to the cleaning company on the use of effective tools and technology for better cleaning performance. If your office has its own equipment, then you are liable to maintain them in good condition. Always stress to the service provider for proper training to their cleaners on the usage of onsite machinery & tools.

2. Defining the Scope of Work

Convey as much information as possible to enable the cleaning service provider to submit an accurate proposal.  This also helps the cleaning company to plan and deploy manpower for the required cleaning services. The scope of work must include – .

  1. Area of Coverage – provide information on the list of inspection units, total number and fixtures in the inspection units. Area of coverage should include types of floor surfaces and total floor area to be cleaned together with a layout drawing / floor plan of the premise.
  2. Service Hours – indicate the service hours (including the peak and off-peak periods) for the cleaning service.
  3. Schedule of Works – a recommended schedule of work i.e. types of cleaning and the required frequency for the area of coverage should be provided for better management of resources.
  4. Other Services – If other services besides cleaning services are required, (e.g. waste management, landscape maintenance, pest management, etc.) then these should be included in the contract.
  5. Fault Reporting Procedure – Draft the fault reporting procedures and user feedback channels to ensure that all faults reported are attended to and resolved promptly. Some examples of faults include leaking or choked water fixtures, overflowing litter bins, presence of spillage, etc.
  6. Pandemic Event – In the event of a pandemic outbreak, service buyers must agree on an appropriate deployment plan with the service provider to carry out and complete the works as specified in the contract.
  7. Deployment Proposal – to help the service provider accurately plan and submit their deployment proposal, let them know of your requirement of the number of cleaners, by what date and so on

During proposal response evaluation, you must assess the service provider’s submitted list of equipment, materials, schedule of work and deployment proposal/plan for their suitability and effectiveness.

3. Service Quality Inspection

The quality of service determines a major portion of the performance of the service provider as it measures whether the service provider is able to meet the performance standards set by the service buyer. Your inspection strategy should include –

  1. Cleaning work checkingInspection Checklist – can be made listing down inspection units such as entrance, lift lobby, common corridor, meeting rooms, etc depending on the scope of work for your facility. Inspections made should rate the actual cleanliness against the reference rating for the items in the inspection units.
  2. Performance Ratings – Determine and give ratings (say on a scale of 1 to 5) per inspection and report it to the service provider for performance review. It is a good practice for joint inspections by both parties where possible. Definition of performance ratings should be defined prior
  3. Inspection & Response Times – Carry out inspections immediately after the cleaning routine. Also measure the service provider’s response time to ad-hoc requests during and outside of service hours. Requests can be categorised based on work priority ranging from non-critical to very critical.

4. Performance Review

Keeping track of performance metrics and assessing service provider’s performance on a regular basis helps close the feedback loop. Implement a –

service provider review

  1. Performance Scorecard – An evaluation scorecard with relevant performance metrics, or KPIs, can be used; which can be customized based on individual facility requirements. Regular review meetings should be arranged to discuss the results
  2. Incentive Scheme – Adopt some form of reward system as an incentive to cleaners when they attain a higher score than expected during the performance review. Giving out monetary incentives or non-monetary rewards can ensure that service providers regularly meet or exceed expectations

Support from Singapore Government Agencies

In tune with rising public expectations, government agencies are making the cleaning industry in Singapore a progressive one with guidelines, training programmes & regulations. See video below –

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has developed a 5 year Productivity Roadmap for the Cleaning Industry here.  It features standards development (containing referenceable checklists, guides, etc); training programmes under WSQ framework; use of innovative technology and lastly regulatory measures for qualifying and licensing local businesses before they can provide cleaning services in Singapore.  Service buyers thus have peace of mind when contracting a service provider.

Especially for cleaning service buyers, a sample of such a guide is available here.

Following best practices and observing set guidelines is the responsibility of facility managers and office admin staff. Working closely with the cleaning contractors on setting expectations, drafting contracts and laying out procedures leads to better understanding, stronger work ethics and ultimately higher cleaning standards.

How to Inspect Office Cleaning Work and ensure Service Quality

You come in to work and find the air-con out of order. Time to switch on the trusty old fan which has not been used for ages. BUT, dust gathered on the blades is strewn everywhere. Big mistake!!

You see the cleaning staff hired by your company every day and wonder why the fans have not been cleaned. And that got you thinking if inspections are being carried out on the office cleaning procedures from the contractor that was hired.

If this is a familiar scenario at your workplace then it’s time the Facility Manager or Office Admin carry out an inspection, ensuring that the quality of service rendered out always meets expectations.

While this may seem like a tedious task, quality management is crucial for evaluating the end result of the cleaning service. By keeping a baseline to check against whether service is improving, stagnant or declining, you can then use this information for feedback.

So, here’s the “how to” of office cleaning inspection that can help ensure service quality.

Raising Standards by measuring Cleaning Outcomes and Service Quality

Cleaning outcomes relates to the desired cleaning results whereas Service Quality relates to the response time for a particular task. This shows whether the cleaning contractor is able to meet performance standards set by your company.

inspecting against a checklist

An effective method of keeping check would be to create a Performance Inspection Checklist.

While general checklists are easily available for reference, it’s advisable to customise it according to your office layout and requirements.

Before creating checklists, first have a common understanding of the cleaning elements in question. A sample of what cleaning elements would include is shown below –

Cleaning Element Definitions

Description Definition Example
Visible Area Area easily in line of sight Table tops, floor, wall
Non-visible Area Not within line of sight Under table, high surfaces
Inspection unit Elements within a given space Corridor, lobby, stairway
Element Items in a unit Door, floor, fixtures
Dust Light dust particles Thin layer of dust
Dirt Dust that has been gathered Thick layer of dust
Dried stains Stains from spillage Liquid or beverage
Spills Pool of liquid from spills Liquid or beverage
Litter Item not disposed correctly Paper or other waste
Fixture Items secured to wall or ceiling Basins, switches, AED
Signage Sign for information Exit, directory
Display Items hung on wall Notice board, poster
Furniture Movable items Table, chair, sofa
Decoratives Movable items Pots, planters
Electrical Appliance Electricity powered appliances PC, microwave

 

How to obtain desirable Cleaning Outcomes

Here are some practices of getting desired cleaning outcomes –

  1. Categorize the Premises

Decide which areas are high and low priority. High priority sites are to be inspected on a regular basis compared to low priority.

  1. Identify What Needs to be Inspected

List of items that need to be inspected, frequency of checks and coverage targeted.

  1. Performance Indicators

Do the cleaners provide a desirable cleaning outcome? Are the areas inspected free of dust? Feedback given by employees or the public on hard to assess areas are another method of linking performance indicators to desired outcomes. These indicators affect hygiene standards in your office premise.

  1. Availability of Resources

Your company has the flexibility to decide if a comprehensive checklist is to be made for all areas to be inspected or to high priority areas only. A simplified checklist can be made for low priority areas. This is based on available manpower.

  1. Ratings

If possible a joint inspection with the cleaning company should be carried out. Feedback and customer satisfaction can be shared based on ratings given.

What is Service Quality & how to record it?

How fast does the cleaning contractor response on ad-hoc requests? Are cleaning requests outside service hours entertained? These measures determine service quality. Response time for critical to non-critical requests should be recorded together with time taken to complete the task.

Ad-hoc and regular requests can be recorded in a simple spreadsheet or table of the form given below –

 

Conclusion

Inspection is recommended to be carried out immediately after a cleaning job. Take into consideration the time lapse between the inspection and the last cleaning for a fair review.

Including the above elements together with others which befit your organisation, your office environment will be clean and conducive to give optimum productivity.

With the professional, trained cleaners from agencies like A1 Cleaning Services, you don’t have to worry about dust flying off the fans should your office air-con be out of order!

What Cleaners ought to know about Food Court & Hawker Centre Cleaning?

With hawker centres, food courts, fast food and fine dining restaurants in every nook & corner, it is no secret that Singapore is a foodie’s paradise. However, this status can be celebrated only if along with the variety and range of food, we also maintain high standards of cleaning and hygiene at public eating places.

Dirty tables with blobs of fish head curry or dropped morsels of greasy char kway teow left uncleaned on the floor can be a total turn off.  But yet, many a time’s manpower shortage or untrained cleaners do result in such an unsightly experience for patrons….leading to lack of business for the food stall owners, or even worse, causing health risks. So what can food establishments do in order to ensure that cleaning and hygiene standards are upheld by cleaners in charge of food premises cleanliness.

open air public eating place

In this post we’ll share F & B related cleaning procedures that will help you address this very issue.  Read on!

F&B Premises Cleaning Procedures

Following prescribed guidelines together with proper tools/equipment when conducting cleaning at food establishments can ensure not only good cleaning standards but also reduce time wastage.

Before commencing the job, cleaners must wear proper cleaning attire such as apron, gloves and covered shoes. The cleaning trolley must be well equipped with cleaning supplies and tools such as spray bottle, wash cloth, bucket, receptacles, bin liner, squeegee, broom, dustpan, mop and safety signage.  With the pre-work preparation properly done, there are 5 main areas to focus on –

Cleaning table tops

  1. singapore cleaner clearing food platesBefore starting to clean tables make sure that cleaning solutions are replenished and bins are lined
  2. Clear food spills and disposable waste into the waste bin
  3. Clear used trays, crockery and cutlery from the table and place them in the halal or non-halal receptacles
  4. Use squeegee to clean up liquid spills
  5. Use cloth to clean the table. Rinse in bucket and clean again if required
  6. Clean with sanitizer during off peak hours
  7. Place all used trays, crockery and cutlery to the tray return station or the respective food stalls depending on the type of establishment

Use different colored cloth for cleaning and sanitizing for easy identification. Change cleaning solution in bucket often.

Tray Return Station

  1. Clear leftover foods or waste from the trays, crockery and cutlery into the waste bin
  2. Sort the trays, crockery and cutlery from the racks onto halal and non halal receptacles
  3. Clean the tray return station racks and countertops with cloth
  4. Use a different colored cloth to sanitize
  5. Dispose the rubbish

For premises without centralised washing, clean the trays with cloth and sanitize with a different cloth.

Washing Used Trays, Crockery and Cutlery

  1. Check working condition of dishwasher and report any faults to the supervisor
  2. Scrape or rinse off food remnants and stains and soak in basin
  3. Transfer all items into rinsing basin
  4. Place all trays, crockery and cutlery onto receptacles and load the dishwasher
  5. After the wash inspect the crockery to check for any stains or unwashed parts. Rewash if required
  6. Dry thoroughly before returning items to respective food stalls
  7. Clean the dishwasher and washing area and dispose rubbish

Sweeping and Mopping

  1. Sweep floor and corners where dust can accumulate
  2. Use 2 buckets – one for water and one for mopping solution
  3. Rinse mop in water and wring dry and then in solution and wring dry
  4. Prop up safety signage at both ends of mopping area
  5. Mop the entire area section at a time making sure to overlap
  6. Remove safety signage only when floor is dry and then move on to another section

For spot cleaning or removing of stains, twist the mop head.

Throwing Refuse

  1. Tie and remove rubbish bag from the cleaning trolley
  2. Use extra liner if leakage occurs
  3. Throw rubbish bag into bulk bin taking care to avoid body contact
  4. Wash inside and outside of bin. Let dry and place new liner

Main bin centre should also be properly cleaned with safety signage kept.

Return of Tools and Equipment

  1. After cleaning, all tools and equipment have to be cleaned and returned to the store area.
  2. Cleaning cloth, apron, gloves and mops need to be washed and dried.
  3. Cleaners should wash their hands thoroughly for personal hygiene.

Mandating a strict Cleaning regime

Hawker centres and food courts are an integral part of life for Singaporeans. In order to make sure that hawker centres are kept clean spring cleanings, repairs & redecoration are carried out regularly. These are mandated and conducted by agencies like National Environment Agency (NEA) and by respective Town Councils for HDB owned centres.  Such cleaning and maintenance schedules are announced by NEA on its website.

By following Cleaning best practices and maintaining a strict cleaning regime, a meal at the hawker centre or food court hopefully will always be a pleasant experience. Keeping in mind food patrons’ health, good cleaning practice also keeps pests and other harmful bacteria at bay.

How to prevent Food Contamination by following these Hand Washing techniques

Food handlers need to be very careful about hand washing in order to prevent food contamination. Harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and viruses such as Norovirus can be present on human hands and these can lead to contamination during handling, ultimately causing food poisoning. And as you know food poisoning is responsible for a number of sicknesses ranging from vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach ache, weakness, migraine and even fever.

Besides the usual cleaning and hygiene maintenance routine in food areas, in order to remain safe from infections practicing proper hand washing techniques is very important. To put it in a simply, proper hand washing is one of the most effective way in which you can prevent the spreading of infections through food contamination.

Know When to Wash your Hands

instances when hands should be washedWhile its essential for food handlers to wash their hands and wrists at frequent intervals. Here are some instances when it is mandatory for them to wash –

  • Before starting the preparation of food
  • Before handling ready-to-eat or cooked food
  • After preparation or handling of raw food
  • When changing tasks, i.e. when switching from handling of raw food to ready-to-eat food. This prevents cross-contamination
  • After handling waste or disposing trash
  • After cleaning duties
  • After handling money
  • After using the washroom
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose

Having an ideal Hand Washing Station

foot operated binA designated hand washing station is a must in food preparation areas. It should be easily accessible for dish washing activities. The taps should be pedaled, elbow or knee operated so that it is not required to use clean hands for touching any part of the washing station. This greatly helps in prevention of cross contamination.

Ideally, a hand washing station must have the following components:

  • Taps
  • Sink
  • Foot-operated rubbish bin
  • Paper towels
  • Liquid soap

 

Steps for Proper Hand Washing

Yes, we all do wash our hands but do we follow all the steps? Did you know that Hands should be washed for a period of at least 15 to 20 seconds.  And the actual steps that should be followed are –

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running and preferably warm water
  2. Use liquid soap in good quantity so as to form lather
  3. Rub your hands, including fingertips, thumb, wrists, in between the fingers and back of your hands
  4. Rub your hand for about 15 seconds. Rub vigorously
  5. Rinse your hands thoroughly in the running water
  6. Dry your hands with a paper towel

Foodborne diseases are a common norm. In spite of the fact that most people recover from such health disorders, these can lead to chronic health issues in about 4% to 5% cases. Thus observe and follow infection control practices that can help keep such diseases at bay. If you are involved with food preparation at home or a food handler (Chef, cook, kitchen and food stall assistants) at your workplace, education and awareness in this regard is of utmost importance.

4 Ways To Clean Carpets And Make Them Look New Again

Brown stains from a dropped cup of coffee….drops of juice spilled from a glass full of beverage…muddy shoe soles getting wiped clean….there are uncountable reasons why your carpet can be soiled and stained.  And these are reasons over above the general tear and wear which the flooring has to endure due to everyday use.  No wonder carpets are the must susceptible to dirt, spots and stains under the home/office upholstery category

Luckily, this is a common problem.  And for common problems there are more than one solutions! So, in this post we’ll tell you 4 methods of cleaning your carpets along with the Pros and Cons of each.  Read on…

Why Carpet Cleaning

Be it a office or your home, the ceiling and flooring must always be showcased in a positive light. The prestige of a corporate office or the ambience of your home can be easily compromised if carpeted flooring looks dull or worse remains riddled with stains. And stubborn stains are not easy to rid of with general hand scrubbing. So, when it comes to carpeting, you need to take proper measures to maintain it in a clean and in tip-top condition.  Here are 4 ways to do that –

1. Using Carpet Absorbent Cleaners

Carpet absorbent cleanersThis procedure is often referred to as Dry Cleaning, since there’s no virtual use of water.  A fairly common process to clean carpets wherein a dry absorbent compound which contains detergent, solvent, and water in small quantities, is sprinkled on the surface of the carpet. The main purpose of this compound is to attract and absorb the dirt, grime and soil.  A brush cleaner with mechanical action is worked into the carpet. The dislodged dirt is absorbed by the cleaning compound after which a thorough vacuuming session follows through.

 

 

Pros

  • Simple and straight forward method
  • Very little water is used in the process, there is no drying time involved

Cons

  • Powder (detergent) may remain trapped for thick carpets
  • Not able to clean deep down into the carpet

 

2. Carpet Shampooing

foam based carpet cleaningThe concept here is to create a heavy foam and have it worked into the carpet fibers with the rotating brushes of a machine.  When the foam dries the resulting residue attracts the soil in the carpet which then needs to be vacuumed the next day.  Two of the commonly used machines in this process are rotary shampoo machine and cylindrical foam machine.

Pros

  • Simple, fast and affordable method
  • Rotating brushes provide good agitation

Cons

  • Dirt is piled and buried in the carpet
  • Extensive vacuuming is required before and after the process

 

3. Bonnet Method

Carpets getting cleaned with rotary brushThis method utilizes an absorbent pad. After a cleaning product or solution is sprayed onto the carpet,  the rotary buffer or bonnet (absorbent pad) operated by a floor machine scrubs the mixture with a rotating motion.  Carbonated water may be used in this process to provide with better soil suspension. Even though considered as a dry cleaning method the carpet is actually wet and requires some time to dry up.

Pros

  • Fast, simple method that does not cost much.
  • Good for lightly soiled carpets.

Cons

  • Cleaning is superficial since its not able to reach deeper down.
  • Dirt and chemicals accumulates at the bottom of the carpet fibers.

 

4. Steam Cleaning

steam cleaning methodAlso known as Hot Water Extraction this method is often referred to as a deep cleaning procedure to clean carpets. It is one of the best ways of carpet cleaning which uses a combination high water pressure for agitation, and hot water to increase reaction rate.  The carpet is first treated with chemical regaents, after which a fine spray of pressured hot water is injected, which is followed by an intensive vacuuming where the gunk is sucked up into a holding tank.

Pros

  • Widely used method that provides thorough cleaning (from deep down in the carpet)
  • Ensures chemical reactivity facilitated by agitation, makes good use of cleaning solvents
  • Recommended by carpet manufacturers & cleaning experts

Cons

  • Long drying time
  • Requires expensive equipment hence relatively higher cost

Despite best efforts, any carpet will eventually become a victim of spills, drops, accidents and of course the dirt beneath your shoes. Mere vacuuming is not a feasible solution even though you would do it every second day. Thus, it’s best to let professional carpet cleaners and experts do their work and provide you with spotless, clean and fresh carpets that look and feel like new.

Why hiring an licensed Cleaning Company is a smarter choice

If you’re sulking over the quality of cleaning done by your full time helper at home or feeling agonized by the behaviour and skill level of a part time cleaner that you hired recently, then this post is just for you.

Low standards of cleaning and unprofessional work attitude is a wide-spread problem faced by many Singaporean home and office owners.  And at times its not the workers or cleaners who are at fault but rather the errant services providers who don’t observe fair employment policies, hire unskilled individuals and even underpay their staff.

But the good news is that the National Envrionment Agency (NEA) has got into action to introduce some order and standards for the cleaning businesses in Singapore.  Let me share more about this and most importantly how you as a customer can benefit from it.

NEA Cleaning Business License – What is it for and what does it entail?

A Cleaning Business License by NEA aims to impose better employment standards in the cleaning industry so as to ensure reliability and professionalism of cleaning services delivered in Singapore. From September 2014 onwards Businesses that provide general cleaning services (to Public and Private sectors) at premises or any public places in Singapore will need to be licensed.  With exceptions given only for those belonging to the excluded cleaning works category.

A1 Cleaning Certified

The License needs to be renewed every year and there are penalties of upto S$10,000 for those who operate without a valid license.

To earn this license a Sinapore Cleaning Company is required to –

  • Be registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or Registry of Societies (ROS)
  • Have an existing Cleaning Business – at least 1 cleaning contract on-going OR completed in the 12 months before applying
  • In case of start-ups have employees with demonstrated understanding, training, practical experience in cleaning
  • Send their Cleaners for training courses under WSQ framework or other relevant training programmes
  • Submit a progressive wage plan for their cleaners

Scope of Licensing

The following is the scope of Licensing regime –

  • Businesses that provide general cleaning services at premises or any public places in Singapore will need to be licensed
  • Companies employing in-house cleaners to clean their premises are exempted from this requirement
  • Those who provide housekeeping services to hotels, hostels and serviced apartments are required to be licensed
  • Accredited cleaning companies such as those with Clean Mark accredition will already comply with the licensing requirements

Benefits of hiring a NEA Licensed Cleaning Company

So what does all of the above mean to the end customer? In terms of the benefits here’s what it gives to the end user –

nea certified cleaning companySkilled Workers

License requirement ensures that employees working for the company are well-trained or undergo the required training. With experienced and trained professionals doing the job, consumers can get superior quality of services.

Better Employment Standards

Cleaners have a pathway to higher wages in the future….they aren’t exploited, tend to have better work attitude and be more productive.  Happy workers mean better standard of service and professionalism for consumers.

Better Quality of Services

Companies that offer cleaning services are valid business entities on the record and having a track record in providing such services.

Peace of Mind

Customers don’t have to fear of being involved in any kind of fraudulent practices such as hiring illegal or moonlighting workers

The licensing criteria thus ensures that the employees receive the wage they deserve and at the same time put in their efforts in honing their skills.  It’s a win-win situation for the consumer as well as the employees. Business owners are also reminded to raise their game and uprade the service standards they provide whilst boosting their reputation. So, next time before you hire and sign the contract with a Cleaning Company do so only after to verify their NEA Cleaning Business License.

Clutter-free your office desk! Start your day on clean slate every day.

achieve moreStress…Anxiety…Monday morning blues every single day of the week….ever wondered what the reason might be? Well, that place where you spend one third of your day, your Work Desk, perhaps isn’t comforting enough.

Mess and clutter, are an immediate turn off. And that holds true even for your office desk, a pleasant working environment sure boosts one’s productivity.  Research shows that 57% of supervisors, co-workers, and clients pass judgment based on how dirty or clean people keep their workspaces. You may be a worthy employee but a messy desk leaves a poor impression.

So, let’s walk you thru some easy tips & tricks that’ll help you start your work day on the right foot and also leave a lasting impression on your colleagues and customers alike.

Quick picks to reduce “stuff” on your desk.

The first initiative one can take is to reduce the number of things that hold permanent acreage on the desk.  Such as –

Files & Binders

If you are one of those who works on multiple ongoing projects, then Create a System…prioritize, label, separate and keep the current on top. Gather like items together. Divide the “keep” papers or files into two lots: active and reference.  Place them in order of necessity. Try not to pile; rather organize in vertical folder holders or binders on your wall or the side of your desk for easy access.

Mailbox

Let incoming letters and paper mails sit in one box at the corner of your desk. Best is to use a stacked In/Out tray

Concealing Cords

Bunch of power cords, telephone cables, network connection, etc can not only get messy but also gather dust. Designate an out-of-the-way spot, via a hole or side of the table or install conduits, wood panels, cable boxes or cable cords, so they do not need to be continually shifted about. Make your desk look presentable top to toe.

Printers and Scanners

Find a spot off your desk if possible, or better still opt for common printer that everyone in the office can share

Stationery

Too many supplies, pens and notepads can be annoying, keep only what you need and stash the rest in a drawer or a common Stationery supplies cabinet.

Personal items

Bags and purses are meant to be close, but their place is in a drawer or a cabinet, where it is safe and away.

Start with these measures and implement them bit by bit or if you can afford to take time off for a day then empty your entire desk and re organize it all over again. From there on its good to schedule a clean-up day, a particular day in a week or a month.

well organised work desk

Bottom line…Your office desk should hold only essentials such as computer, a phone, and paper work that needs immediate attention.

Digitize and also Go Green

In this digital age, we are morally obliged to reduce usage of paper and also help the environment.  Going digital and working with “soft” copies is the way to go.  Some ideas to adopt are –

Post-it notes

Notes are just reminders; how long do you need them? Rather feed these bits of information into electronic software such as on-line post-it notes, One-Note, EverNote, or even the computer desktop and say bye bye to the tiny space eaters

Contacts and Business Cards

Business Cards are an unavoidable but a vital and ever going stack. But thanks to technology…Microsoft Outlook and other CRMs (Customer Relationship Management software) include note sections where you can provide information about the person and the meeting. Otherwise use a scanning app such CamCard and digitize them. It’s a lot faster to find and occupies much lesser space

Papers and Documents

Magazines, reading material, mails or previous month’s records are sure to have a copy online. Let them shred in peace! Keep a habit of storing and finding them digitally

 

Other (non-physical) Types of Clutter

Clutter might not only be physical. How many times has a thought, idea or action item popped into your head and then disappeared…and then we keep wondering what it was and simply not able to recall it due to the mental clutter in our heads.  Well, add it to your to-do list or assign it to your calendar…this helps you to focus priority items first and then take up these for subsequent action by easy reference.

Clutter can also be technological. Your computer, smart phone, iPad or Kindle can be loaded with useless documents and apps. It prevents you from being creative and saps your energy and focus. So, uninstall or delete!

Everyday take a few minutes before you leave work to clear off your desk and make it presentable. The reason; when you walk into the office the next day, you will be cheerful and can get down to work right away with a big smile. Make your office desk a part of you, and you will keep it like your home! Sparkling, non-messy and clean.

5 Cleaning & Sanitation Practices you should follow if you Handle Food

Singaporeans are food lovers…hawker centers, food courts and restaurants may be among the most visited places besides our homes and offices! However, inadvertently sometimes F & B Businesses ignore the way food is handled resulting in food poisoning cases that have led authorities to cancel food licenses and even shut down some establishments.

Cleaning and Sanitation deserve utmost attention.  Coz, more often than not contamination and food poisoning are majorly caused due to inadequate sanitation measures. So, if you run a food stall or happen to be a food handler (such as a chef or kitchen assistant) or simply a concerned homemaker here are five best practices you may want to implement at your home/work place.

1. Mark your Calendar, Observe a Schedule

Plan, mark dates and time slots to clean your kitchen, stall etc.  If you run a food & beverage establishment, there should be a clean-up session daily, making sure to keep your supplies and equipment ready before time. Creating a schedule and following it diligently ensures bacteria, insects, pests do not enjoy time in your kitchen spaces.

 

2. Employing efficient methods for Cleaning and Sanitation

sanitization of dirty utensilsSparkling clean utensils does not mean bacteria free. Cleaning and sanitizing are two sides of the same coin. The first is just physical removal of visible dirt, while the latter is removal of bacteria. The following applies to all utensils used or in contact with food.

  • Rinse your utensil under running water to wash away any leftovers or debris.
  • Wash the surfaces of your utensils with appropriate detergents. (Soaking, spraying, foaming and pressure cleaning are all forms of washing).
  • Flush away or clear food or dirt particles on your surfaces.
  • Sanitize your utensils by steaming or rinsing in hot water or with reliable chemical cleaning solutions.

Sanitizing works best when the cleaning solutions are warm (with hot water > 77 degree Celsius) and the surface to be cleaned are in contact for a sufficient time.

Depending on type of food, sanitizing solutions should be diluted as recommended by the manufacturer.

 

3. Using the Right Tools

Always ensure that suitable brushes and tools are used for the job. Using coarse cleaners might cause scratches that can lead to bacterial growth if not sanitized properly. Therefore, different surfaces require different treatment.  For example –

  1. Tough surfaces should be cleaned with stiff bristled brushes
  2. Soft bristled brushes should be used on dusty, fragile and scratch prone surfaces.
  3. Pads, sponges are soft and flexible; they should be used for utensils.

Having color coded tools for different areas makes it easier for to identify. After use, it’s vital to thoroughly clean, dry and store the cleaning equipment in hygienic conditions.

 

4. Practicing Personal Hygiene (e.g. Hand-Washing)

Hands can sometimes be the key source for contamination. So they should be washed – before and after preparing food, changing between raw meat and vegetables, after using the toilet, handling any waste and when you cough and sneeze into your hands.

correct way of washing hands

Image Source: Good Cleaning & Sanitation Practices by AVA & NEA

Practice these 8 steps for clean hands:

  1. Rinse hands under clean running water, rub palms together.
  2. Clean between the fingers.
  3. The back of your hands.
  4. Scrub your thumbs
  5. The back of your fingers
  6. Get your fingernails
  7. Your wrists
  8. Lastly, rinse and dry your hands with paper towels/clean napkins.

 

5. Storage of Food & Housekeeping Materials

So far we have focused on cleaning and sanitizing. But without proper housekeeping, management and storage of food, only half your job is done.

To keep bacteria and other microorganisms from growing, it is important to store perishable goods at the correct temperature for the proper amount of time. Microorganisms are more likely to grow in the danger zone where the internal food temperature is low. Storage has to be hygienic and dry depending on the kind of food (i.e. raw or cooked vegetables and meat).

Besides food storage, hazardous chemicals used for external cleaning and maintenance such as detergents, pesticides, polishes, glass cleaners, etc should be separated out, labeled and stored in an organized manner.

It always matters, not only what you eat but also where you eat. Whether you’re a homeowner managing your own kitchen or a manager overseeing an F & B establishment, cleaning and sanitation is of paramount importance. There’s no substitute or shortcuts when it comes to implementing basic hygiene standards.

Commercial Cleaning Vs Domestic Cleaning – Here’s What You Should Know

Like most homeowners in Singapore we may have a full time live-in helper or would have hired a part-time maid to tidy up the house as and when needed.  However, as the cleaning services industry gets more organized and regulated there’s a whole lot of professional cleaning services in Singapore that one can opt for.

Companies who offer cleaning services commercially do so not only for offices and commercial establishments but also for the residential segment.  Services hired from such agencies are structured differently as compared to hiring a cleaning aunty randomly.  And they also use a variety of cleaning techniques, equipment and aids to give you speedy and superior quality cleaning.

For those intending to engage such service providers in Singapore it’s good to understand the differences and to know what to look out for.

How Commercial Cleaning Services differ from Home Cleaning?

Commercial Cleaning Services are better in the way they are organized and carried out as compared to the longstanding house cleaning services.  They will differ in the following areas –

  1. Work Hours are not disrupted – Commercial cleaning is just the right option for companies who seek to have a sanitized and clean office environment without disrupting their work productivity. This is possible as service is rendered only during off peak hours (after office hours or lunch breaks) or on weekends so as not to disrupt office work.
  2. Clear Contract is mandatory – There is always a contract involved so you can make sure that all your cleaning specifications are spelled out clearly in it. This way you can remain assured of consistent and quality services throughout the term of the contract.
  3. Cleaning TimetableStricter Schedule – Commercial cleaning companies follow a stricter work schedule to ensure that the entire cleaning work is completed within the specified time frame without any hassles.
  4. Professional Services – Work is done by a team of individuals who are pro at cleaning, sanitizing and who take initiative to make sure the cleaning requirements are fulfilled as per set standards and timeframe. Since you pay for a service and not for a person, you are not left stranded in case of absenteeism.
  5. Range of Services – Since you deal with a company and not an individual there’s multitude of other cleaning services that can be availed, if required. The scope of work can be extended beyond the general, internal and routine cleaning to cover external areas cleaning, periodic restroom sanitation, interior landscaping and so on. Carpet cleaning and steam cleaning can also be bundled from the same vendor.
  6. Higher Cost – Professional services with service level agreements come at a higher cost of course. So, expect to pay more than what you would pay for a part time cleaner.

What You Should Look Out For When Hiring A Commercial Cleaning Company?

While you embark on your quest to hunt for the best commercial cleaning service provider here’s list of points that you must consider before zeroing on the one that fits your requirement and bill too!

  • Company must be NEA licensed – In Singapore, look for a cleaning company that’s licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). This ensures higher standards of cleaning and professional service by the company.
  • Look up for Client Testimonials – Read first-hand experiences of customers to gauge the company’s performance. If the cleaning company has a reputed client base then it is a clear indication that it is trusted by a good number of customers. Check out their website for clientele and testimonials, read reviews on Social media, forums or on their business listing.

Trained cleaners from commercial company

  • Trained Personnel – A commercial cleaning company should have emphasis skills training for their staff. If the company fails at this then it may lack a consistent standard of service.  Inquire with the company on their employee selection and training process. The staff must be diligent, friendly and experts in their work.
  • Scope of Services and Add-Ons they provide – Ask for capability to deliver other services like carpet cleaning, landscaping, pest control, etc. Some companies provide consumables like towels, soaps and can liners. If you’re not required to stock these then it takes off unnecessary hassle off your hands.
  • Contract Terms & Exit Options – Before you sign the contract it is quite natural that you remain concerned about receiving a consistent performance from the company during the entire term of the contract. Therefore, negotiate fair terms and also for an agreement where you can terminate the contract in case you are not satisfied with their services.

Whether you are a concerned homemaker or a business owner it’s good to know the benefits of engaging a commercial cleaning company.  A1 Cleaning Services is one company you may want to consider due to the range of services and trained cleaners they provide. With a professional team and affordable pricing this may just be the right option for you.

Spring Cleaning Tips [Infographic]

Have a Spick and Span house in no time with these Spring Cleaning tips

Which words do you associate with spring cleaning? Stress and Hard work?  Dread-filled ordeal?  Corporal Punishment???!! or just ‘Err… Yuck’!

Well, here we are to re-program your beliefs about spring cleaning the house by showing you how easy it can be to transform your home into the spotless abode you desire in just a few simple steps.

The main idea is to ‘work smart’ and not necessarily as hard you may think… Let’s find out how.

 Cleaning Tips for CNY Spring Cleaning

Plan and Prepare for the Spring Cleaning

 

1.      Get the family involved: don’t go solo

The worse part about spring cleaning is the thought of taking the monumental responsibility onto oneself. This will not only drain but also demotivate you even before you begin.  The right way to handle the task is by getting the family involved and making it a group responsibility.  In this way, maintaining the cleanliness and clutter-free level will be easier apart from the actual clearing and cleaning process being less stressful and quicker for all.

 

2.      Delegate work areas to each family member

The best way to share the work load and not get into each other’s way is by assigning a specific work area to each family member.  Delegate a room such as the kitchen, living room etc., home components such as all the windows, shelves etc. or then processes like scrubbing, vacuuming and others depending on which works best.

 

3.      Turn on the music and establish a reward to keep everyone in high spirits

Set the mood for a productive family day ahead by playing some peppy tunes in the background.  Sing along as you throw, store, scrub, scour, wash and wipe together. Have a sense of humour about it!  Don’t take the job too seriously but be assertive enough to set high cleanliness standards: no hoarding!   A good way to make sure the kids cover their work areas well, is by offering motivational awards to those who do a good job.  Everyone learns, bonds and enjoys themselves while the house gets a good make over.

 

4.      De-clutter unwanted items and have cleaning aides handy

Prior to actual Cleaning Day, plan the actual spring cleaning or de-cluttering session.   Getting unwanted items out of the way will make the cleansing process ten times easier.   You can donate discarded clothes, toys and even furniture to the Salvation Army and other donation drives.  Then stock up on the correct cleaning equipment – brushes, mops, sponges, squeegees, brooms, buckets, vacuum cleaners, spray bottles and the right liquids and detergents.  The right tools are essential for convenience and ease of creating a spick and span space.

 

Execute with Divide and Conquer – Allocate one area to each member

how to clean for chinese new year and hari raya

Here are some practical tips for quick one off cleaning of every area of the house

Windows

The all-important job of window cleaning requires some elbow grease and non-fibrous material or newspaper to wipe down the glass panes.   Dab on some cleaning solution and wipe till there are no marks to be seen.   Washing with water and leaving to dry naturally will only attract dust particles or worse, create water streaks that can end up ruining an otherwise good job done.  Remember, spotless windows are the key to spick and span.

 

Kitchen

Kitchens gather a whole lot of grease and dirt on all surfaces like cabinet doors, counter tops, tables and tops of shelves and refrigerators.  Wipe all these down with a heavy duty all-purpose cleaner and sponge.  A handy tip for stubborn stains or odours is the use of bicarbonate soda.

Leave a layer on the required surface overnight or in a bowl inside a smelly drain, cabinet or the fridge.  The soda will absorb all the odour, freshening up your kitchen like a true day in spring.

 

Bathrooms

Those assigned bathrooms to clean may consider themselves to be unluckiest but the fact is that bathrooms can be handled quickly and effortlessly with a simple rotational trick.   If there’s just one bathroom then even better! The trick here is to spray or apply solutions to mirror or glass surfaces, toilet bowls and sinks and let them get absorbed into the surfaces before you begin cleaning.  Pour bleach in a toilet bowl, some antibacterial detergent in the sink and other surfaces and a glass cleaner on all mirror and glass.   Then move onto the next bathroom and repeat the same there.  Give time for the solutions to do their job and then you do yours, wiping, brushing or mopping where necessary.

 

Floors

The floor cleaning occurs last.   Vacuum clean the carpet to clear all the dirt from deep inside.   Mop down all other surfaces floors with a cleaning solution and warm water.  Stubborn marks on the carpet can be handled with stain removers and only use suitable solutions for surfaces such as marble, wood or vinyl.

 

Other areas

Keep a small vacuum cleaner or brush application handy to get into the tight areas where dirt or cobwebs reside.  Also, apart from the kitchen, bicarbonate soda can also be sprinkled on couches, sofas, pillow covers, and blankets overnight and then washed or vacuum cleaned the following day to look and smell anew.

 

A spring cleaning is the best gift you can give yourself and your family. De-cluttering is known to clear the mind and infuse positivity into your life and thoughts. A regular spring cleaning, every 3 to 6 months, is a good detoxification plan for every home.