Company’s Coming

Company's Coming

It happens every Thanksgiving.  You have your family over for the annual Thanksgiving feast reminiscent of the one with the pilgrims and Indians. When you have company coming to your house for a family or friends and family event, you always want to present a clean and orderly appearance to your guests.  When company’s coming, things get cleaned, clutter gets put away and trash is emptied.  Your guests are impressed with the house and then they enjoy the meal along with the fun and fellowship.

Now, let’s look at your place of employment.  Rather than once a year, it happens EVERYDAY.  Whether it is a school, university, office building, hospital, nursing home or airport, everyday of the week, you have hundreds or thousands of guests walk through your doors.  Company’s coming and they can be as critical as your mother-in-law.

If Company (your guest) is looking around, your facility has to present a good first impression.  You know what they say about first impressions?  First impressions are lasting impressions.

Guests are looking at and judging your facility from the time they pull into your property.  Are the signs well lit or are there burned out letters?  Are the grounds attractive? Is the grass nice and green with well-manicured flowerbeds?  Is everything that should be alive, ALIVE?

How about the parking facilities?  Are there oil stains and cigarette butts on the concrete?  Are the garages and parking lots well lit? Are the parking lots and sidewalks free of chewing gum?

As your guests come through the main entrance, how does the glass door and windows look?  Is the carpet matting clean and attractive; free of spots?

How do you define clean?  Here is a good definition of clean you can use to judge every surface in your facility.  CLEAN=No dust, no spots, no smudges, and no smells.

A “Standard of Appearance” should be developed for everything that your guest sees.  The standard of cleanliness for every surface is: it has to be free of dust, spots, smudges and smells.  Use it for your rest rooms, windows, carpet, tile, mirrors, elevator tracks, and furniture.

Include maintenance in your standards of appearance.  The wall might be clean but it needs to be painted.  The carpet might be free of spots and stains but it is just worn out and in need of replacement.  The grout in the bathroom might be clean but tiles are loose or missing.  The appearance has to be clean and well maintained in order to present a room that says, “Come on in and make yourself at home!”

At a 500-bed hospital in St. Louis, the President approached he EVS Director to ask, “How can we make this place more attractive so that everyone who walks through our doors is ‘Wowed’ by their experience?”

During the ensuing conversation, the President stated, “It should be like my house looks when we are having company come over.  It should be neat and clean.  How do we get that same thing in a hospital with 3,500 employees and thousands of people coming to visit patients.”

So, the “Company’s Coming” campaign was birthed.  The first step is to “declutter” the work areas.

As with anything, getting rid of clutter can be made incredibly simple: just go through your stuff, one section, closet, drawer, or shelf at a time, and get rid of everything that isn’t absolutely essential, that you don’t use often.

Of course, simplifying a process like that isn’t terribly useful to many people who struggle with clutter. So, with that in mind, the following tips were given for decluttering.

  1. Declutter for 15-30 minutes every week. It’s amazing how much you can get through if you just do it in small increments like this.
  2. Don’t allow things into the department in the first place. Whether you’ve begun decluttering the workspace, or you’ve just completed it, stop bringing in new stuff NOW. Even if that’s ALL you do and don’t start decluttering immediately, if you can only establish one habit at a time, establish the no-more-stuff habit first. This way, when you do get to decluttering the existing stuff, you’ve already stopped making it worse. Think of bailing out a boat with a hole in it. You can bail and bail, but it won’t do anything for the leak.
  3. Donate stuff you’re decluttering, so you don’t feel bad about wasting it.  Although your work group doesn’t need it, another departments might want it.  “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
  4. Create a “Joe’s Goals” chart with decluttering on it — either daily, or 3 times a week. Check off the days when you declutter, and you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment.
  5. Use the “one in, two out” rule. The rule: whenever you bring in an item, you have to get rid of two other items. First you cheat, by throwing out two pieces of paper, but soon you will have to move to the big stuff.
  6. Make your storage space smaller and more minimal. If you have lots of storage, you’ll fill it with stuff.
  7. Declutter one room (including any closets, desks, cabinets, etc.) before starting on the next one. Spending time in that room will feel SO good, and it will be so easy to keep clean, that it will motivate you to do more!
  8. Need a dumpster?  Housekeeping provides a dumpster for “trash”.  Just call when you need a dumpster or have a full one for pick up.
  9. Housekeeping is the “Declutter Czar”.  Housekeeping provides the pick up of any discarded furniture, extra office supplies, or other excess supplies.  Items are placed in a storage area until an announcement is made of what is available for “reuse” (part of the reduce, reuse, recycle circle).  Then departments go shopping for things they can use instead of purchasing new stuff.  Items that aren’t claimed for reuse, are then sold in a Hospital’s employee sale and the proceeds go to a Housekeeping’s “International Housekeeper’s Week” celebration.  Anything leftover from the sale is donated to a charitable organization or church.
  10. Keep hallways clear.  If things have to be kept in hallways and corridors, they should be on wheels so they are easily moved for cleaning purposes.  For appearances sake, everything should be kept on one side of the hallway.

Housekeeping works with other departments to do detail cleaning in the spaces our guests see (i.e., waiting rooms, nurse stations, public corridors).  Furniture is shampooed, corner guards are cleaned, kick plates are shined, overhead light panels are clean and clear of bugs, and walls are washed.  Carpeted corridors are shampooed and an enzymatic air freshener is applied.  When the staff notices the increased housekeeping presence and asks what’s going on, the workers reply is, “Company’s coming!”

The Housekeeping Department’s visibility during the “Company’s Coming” campaign is key.  Housekeepers doing “Spring cleaning” can become infectious.  When Housekeepers are busy doing the Spring cleaning and hauling away the broken furniture, surplus items and other clutter, the staff can embrace the idea, “Company’s Coming and we need to be ready.”









About Darrel Hicks

J. Darrel Hicks, B.A., is the author of Wiley Publishing's "Infection Prevention For Dummies", and is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in infection control. Darrel Hicks is also the Past President of the IEHA and is an active member in AHE where he holds the designation of CHESP. View all posts by Darrel Hicks

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