We were featured in a recent press release about how the best in office cleaning companies are responding to the new normal… Here is the excerpt.
My Kinda Town, Chicago
Jake Silker and his wife Erin own and manage Windy City Cleaning Services and Short Stacks Cleaning — two small cleaning and maintenance companies that cater to small condominium associations in Chicago. The companies offer slightly different services; Windy City is primarily involved in the cleaning and maintenance of larger commercial properties, COAs, and HOAs, while Short Stacks Cleaning caters to smaller to mid-sized COAs and the mixed-use buildings common in the city of Chicago, as well as residential cleaning services.
“The coronavirus is classified as an emerging pathogen,” says Silker. “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of disinfectants that meet their requirements for disinfection, called List N. We clean based on the continued guidance from the EPA, as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And while using personal protection equipment (PPE) is commonplace now, just a few short weeks ago there was a stigma attached to it as something a sick, contagious, or even crazy person would wear. We did not want to alarm or concern residents, so we communicated to our communities very early on that we would be wearing masks and gloves out of an abundance of caution, both for the safety of our cleaners, and for their community and staff.”
As for how things have gone since the early days of the pandemic, Silker says that “Some associations have requested an increase in their cleaning frequency, and many buildings have asked us to install hand sanitizer stations near their entries or elevators. There was a bit of a rush to secure some of our supplies – especially masks and gloves, not to mention the basics such as antibacterial soap and toilet paper, which are needed in many of our community rooms.”
Silker says that he reminds managers and board members that the single most important thing residents can do to reduce their chance of infection is wash their hands. Of course, no one can control what’s brought in from the outside. If a doorknob was disinfected at 3 p.m. and 50 people have come and gone since then, there’s simply no telling what might be on the surface. So as soon as a resident enters their unit, before touching any other surfaces in their home — and especially before touching their face — they should wash their hands with warm water and antibacterial soap for the CDC-recommended minimum of 20 seconds.
“[Cleaning] isn’t always quick when done correctly,” says Silker. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. We’re not just walking up the steps running a duster over the handrail — we’re wiping underneath the handrail, because that’s where the fingerprints are. We change rags and gloves frequently to avoid cross-contamination, and we launder our uniforms daily to keep ourselves and our families healthy.”
Cleaning frequency and protocols aren’t the only things that the pandemic has changed, Silker continues. “People now understand the importance of cleaning. A lot of our employees have noticed more eye contact, and more ‘thank-yous,’ and acknowledgements where they used to be ignored.
When it comes to his staff, Silker says “We asked our staff to monitor their temperature and report any potential symptoms immediately. We are also encouraging them to stay home at the first sign of any issue. We have not had any workers refusing to work out of fear. There was definitely trepidation or anxiety during the initial weeks of the outbreak, but that seems to have subsided as we have learned more about the virus. With training and proper use of chemicals and protective equipment, our team feels safe, but remains vigilant.”
While this is just a snapshot of two small companies providing essential services to condo and co-op communities, they’re illustrative of the kind of measures being taken by essential multifamily vendors and service providers all across the country. The impact of the pandemic is being felt in nearly every industry, at every level — and the full effect of this once-in-a-generation event likely won’t be fully appreciated for years. In the meantime, however, small businesses are doing everything they can to serve their clientele and to keep themselves solvent.
A J Sidransky is a staff writer/reporter for The Cooperator, and a published novelist.