The future of cleaning isn’t just technology, it’s people – Peter Rochford

I’ll admit it – I’ve been in the cleaning industry for a long time. CleanTEC alone has been in business since 2000. 

There have been huge technological changes since then. When Chris Rogers and I founded CleanTEC, we already knew that we wanted to utilise then-new innovative and exciting technology to maximise the business’s potential while sticking to our values. We’ve been tackling that core question since day one.

Automation – what is its future, and where does that leave workers? 

It’s a huge question facing every sector at the moment. Ask virtually any leader in any industry about this man vs. machine issue and the supposedly “nuanced” response is that we will always need a bit of both. This applies whether it’s AI being used to help a computer programmer or automated machinery taking on heavy lifting on a factory floor. 

That’s the easy answer. The truth is more complicated. Take CleanTEC itself, for example. 

Cobotics at CleanTEC

At CleanTEC, we work in schools across the country, using cobotics like the Eco Vac 40. Using an AI navigation system, the Eco Vac 40 is able to automatically vacuum hallways and other easily accessible areas. This gives our operatives more time to focus on other duties, making the process more efficient and cost effective for our clients overall. 

While the Eco Vac patrols the school hallways, for example, a CleanTEC operative can use a high-level vacuum cleaner to deal with hard-to-reach areas like gym hall ceilings. The automated part of the system complements our staff members – it doesn’t replace them.

That’s the same mindset that you see across many industries – technology is here to help our staff, not to do their job for them. But as history shows, that balance can’t be taken for granted. 

Putting people first – employees and clients 

It’s vital that, as technology like cobotics allow us to become more efficient for our clients nationwide, that we also ensure that the needs of our staff aren’t just considered, but are ingrained in CleanTEC’s decision-making process. This benefits our clients as much as our employees. 

When Chris Rogers and I co-founded CleanTEC back in 2000, we wanted to build a business which would treat its employees with respect. That isn’t just the right thing to do. It also ensures a motivated, happy team that will give our clients the best service possible. 

That’s why, in 2021, CleanTEC became an employee-owned business. Now, we have grown into one of the largest employee-owned cleaning companies in the UK. Every one of our employees has a voice and a stake in the success of the business that doesn’t just ensure that their concerns are acted upon, but drives our team to provide the highest quality service for our clients. 

The future of cleaning

We’re a long, long way from cleaning being fully automated. I doubt it will ever happen, particularly in environments which require specialised approaches. Nonetheless, it is important that we don’t rest on our laurels and take the status quo for granted, that we don’t just rely on the current balance between human effort and automation to remain the same forever. 

As technology changes, businesses across all industries have a duty to ensure that the people whose hard work helped build those companies have a stake in their futures. For our clients, that ensures that they will get flexible, motivated and accountable service in the long-term, rather than one which puts the unbridled pursuit of efficiency ahead of quality.

 

Peter Rochford

Peter Rochford

Peter is Managing Director & Co-Owner at CleanTEC Services. Peter co-founded CleanTEC with Chris Rogers in 2000, and played a key role in the company becoming one of the UK’s first employee-owned commercial cleaning businesses in 2021.

Peter Rochford

Peter Rochford

Peter is Managing Director & Co-Owner at CleanTEC Services. Peter co-founded CleanTEC with Chris Rogers in 2000, and played a key role in the company becoming one of the UK’s first employee-owned commercial cleaning businesses in 2021.