I’m the kind of person who NEEDS to make my bed every day. If I don’t start the morning by accomplishing this duty, the rest of my day feels consequently off. I can practically feel the emanating from my internal-high-school self, but I really believe that this simple undertaking is a strong visual and physical cue that boosts a feeling in cleaning tasks that promote order and agency can have similar effects on workplace efficiency and employees’ sense of achievement when implemented correctly.
Although we sometimes think of the breakroom as being somehow separate from the more “industrious” office space, it’s actually an extremely important place where employees can retreat to clear their minds and engage in informal, cross-functional dialogue with coworkers. We’ve come up with three helpful office cleaning tips that encourage organization, caring and motivation as the cornerstones to making breakroom cleaning a breeze.
Start at the (Command) Center
Think about transforming a part of the breakroom into a Cleaning Command Center. Here you might hang a whiteboard where employees can indicate when cleaning supplies are running low or when certain cleaning tasks need fulfillment. This would also be an ideal place to hang a breakroom cleaning schedule that lets employees know who’s charged with which tasks (more on this later).
Consider investing in a utility cart to house cleaning products and park it beneath the command center. Having cleaning supplies in an easily accessible and visible location will make employees more likely to use them, and it will be more evident to everyone when supplies need to be restocked. A rolling cart is even more ideal, as it would be no problem to take the whole thing to the source of any given mess, rather than having to bundle everything up and transport it.
Emphasize Cleaning as a Communal Experience
An untidy breakroom can easily breed friction and negativity between coworkers because, at its heart, keeping the office clean is an exercise in responsible citizenship. Cleaning up after yourself when you’ve say, exploded a bowl of pasta in the breakroom microwave is a way of letting your coworkers know that you value their time and the shared space. Model responsible citizenship for your employees on a larger scale by opting for green cleaning products that don’t use harmful chemicals and are responsibly sourced. Having an assortment of recycling bins (cans, glass, paper, etc.) is another way to stress how highly your company values the ultimate shared space, planet Earth.
Also consider including “touchless” supplies in your breakroom, like a paper towel dispenser or cutlery dispenser, for more germ-conscious colleagues. Not everyone likes the thought of using plastic cutlery from a box someone else touched a few minutes ago, or picking up a roll of paper towels a coworker just handled after cleaning up a mess.
Enforce and Reward the Behaviors You Value
I’m not stupid. I know that the world is not made up of intrinsically motivated bed makers and that there are more than a few people who would turn a blind eye to their marinara sauce microwave messes. That’s not to say that employees shouldn’t be expected to be accountable for performing courteous tasks, only that it might take a bit more prodding. An office cleaning schedule is a good idea for making sure that the breakroom gets a good deep cleaning on a regular basis. Choose teams of people, whether monthly or weekly, and assign them to big tasks that might get overlooked – like cleaning the windows or completely emptying out and scrubbing down the refrigerator. Even the most cleanly employees might feel like deep cleaning “isn’t their job,” especially when they have a multitude of other, seemingly more work-oriented responsibilities to manage. Let your employees know that keeping the breakroom clean is part of their workload by showing appreciation. Treat the deep-cleaning crew of the month/week to lunch, or buy them a gift card to a local coffee shop. These expenses are still likely to cost less than hiring a cleaning crew, and have the added benefit of making employees feel accountable to one another and proud of their office.