Team Cleaning During COVID-19

In 2020, the facility maintenance marketplace transformed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Professional cleaning programs have been forced to change dramatically to meet new demands for infection prevention in cleaning supplies and practices. As maintenance managers hurry to meet the needs of the moment, both information and misinformation flood communication platforms, making it difficult to parse the good from the bad. ProTeam is here to help parcel out cleaning information. ProTeam recently spoke with Jim Harris, Sr., founder of Concepts4 Cleaning consultants on this topic. Jim helps maintenance managers ground their cleaning strategy choices with a time tested systems-based approach.

“If we were inventing a new cleaning system for the time of a pandemic, it would be Team Cleaning,” said Harris. “Team Cleaning is a natural to meet the new demands of the current marketplace.”

Team Cleaning, the cleaning system taught by Harris and Jeff Merrihew, both of Concepts4 Cleaning Consultants, provides the structure for meeting updated cleaning needs. Through the application of cleaning specialists, job cards, and a few basic tenets, Team Cleaning is believed to improve productivity by 15-30% and reduce training time by 50-70% among other benefits.

ProTeam backpack vacuums historically played a key role in Team Cleaning and Team Cleaning implementation. As cleaning practices are reviewed in this changing environment, we want to share the functions of Team Cleaning and highlight a few of the misconceptions associated with the system to help maintenance managers make sound decisions in a rapidly changing landscape.

Misconception One: Gang Cleaning and Team Cleaning are the Same Concept

Due to the perception of teams working in groups, Team Cleaning is often confused for gang cleaning. When gang cleaning, a group of workers enters a space together and performs different tasks simultaneously. Team Cleaning, however, sees cleaning specialists deployed independently, complete their tasks, and exit the space, often without crossing paths until the end of a shift.

Team Cleaning Specialists
Four specialists tackle different tasks simultaneously.

There are four specialist roles in Team Cleaning:

· Light-Duty Specialist (Starter): Dusting, emptying trash, spot cleaning, some sanitizing/disinfecting

  • Vacuum Specialist (Closer): Vacuuming carpets and hard floors
  • Restroom Specialist (Sanitor): Cleaning, sanitizing, and restocking restrooms
  • Utility Specialist (Utility 1, 2, 3, 4): Cleaning lobbies, spot cleaning, cleaning glass, mopping and scrubbing floors, some sanitizing/disinfecting, day porter services

Since the tasks are divided between the specialists, training is more efficient with Team Cleaning. Rather than each worker learning every cleaning task in a building, they learn a fraction of the tasks with greater precision, speed, and effectiveness.

Misconception Two: Team Cleaning Specialists Don’t Maintain Social Distance

When Team Cleaning is confused for gang cleaning, there is a misperception that it can’t work with social distancing. In reality, Team Cleaning is a perfect match for social distancing since specialists are empowered to work independently. The basic concept of Team Cleaning is work simplification and redistribution. The concept of Specialization prevents any situation resulting in physical contact.

A process of work-loading and routing allows facility managers to adapt the Team Cleaning system to meet their current needs, including supporting social distancing or increased disinfection of touch points. Through Team Cleaning job cards, all the specialists know exactly what tasks they have to perform and how much time each task should take as well as their route through the facility. Team Cleaning eliminates the guesswork and helps create a structure for success during a time of change.

Misconception Three: Team Cleaning is Inflexible

According to Merrihew, when people only have a very basic understanding of Team Cleaning, they struggle to adjust production rates correctly. Then they mistakenly believe that Team Cleaning is inflexible and doesn‘t adapt to different situations. However, when production rates are adjusted correctly, the system consistently performs at peak efficiency.

“If you add more to the starter, the production rate slows down. That’s why it’s important that people understand how to adjust the system to work with the changes,” said Merrihew. “It’s not that the system is broken. You have to adjust the system to address the current need.”

Through the work-loading techniques that Harris and Merrihew teach, a Team Cleaning system is not only adjustable, it is an ideal system to take on the complexity of cleaning during a pandemic. Team Cleaning is an ideal system because no task is unaccounted for, no worker goes undirected, and no hour is unplanned. Team Cleaning gives maintenance managers the certainty that cleaning will be done efficiently and to a high standard of efficacy. High performance cleaning requires efficacy, cost containment, and sustainability. This standard is attainable utilizing Team Cleaning specialists.

Learn more at