Adapting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    [fa icon="calendar"] Oct 2, 2020 11:30:00 AM / by Jenny Kakasuleff

    Jenny Kakasuleff

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    Darwin Jessup, a janitor at Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, with his Defense Finance & Accounting Service Director coin, which recognizes his exemplary implementation of job duties and stellar work ethics.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges to staffing, inventory, cleaning procedures and processes as well as safety like no other time in recent history. With a janitorial services program that dates back to the mid-1980s, Goodwill Commercial Services (GWCS) has long understood the importance and value of the custodial workers who ensure our public spaces are clean and safe, but the pandemic has further highlighted the dedication of these essential workers. 

    Goodwill currently employs 181 Hoosiers on our janitorial staff — 82% of whom have a barrier to employment, like a disability, criminal history or lack of a high school diploma. 


    Photo taken prior to the onset of COVID-19.

    GWCS puts the safety of our employees and customers first, which is why we instituted social distancing in the workplace and increased personal protective equipment (PPE), like face masks, before customers required it. Through frequent monitoring of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines, we quickly adapted to the rapidly changing environment and implemented additional safety measures, including:

    • Required hand-washing for staff at the start of each shift, before and after breaks and prior to leaving for the day;
    • Required wipe-down of all staff cellphones prior to beginning their shift;
    • Staggered shifts and break times to ensure fewer people congregating in one area at any given time;
    • Daily temperature and wellness checks before beginning their shift;
    • Markers on the floor near time clocks and other high traffic areas to facilitate social distancing.

    “These essential workers continue to do their jobs, despite the potential risk, and it is our responsibility to ensure our environment is as safe as possible,” said Jim Humphrey, Vice President of Goodwill Commercial Services. 

    In addition to increased safety measures, customers requested more frequent and thorough disinfection at their sites, which helped foster the creation of new jobs and processes to adapt to this increased demand, including: 

    • Diverting janitorial staff from their regular duties to increase the cleaning and disinfecting of high traffic areas, which was made possible with tenant agencies teleworking;
    • Retraining staff on the disinfection chemicals, including the dwell/kill times and the Safety Data Sheet of each chemical;
    • Placing at least one staff leader at each location who is certified by either the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) for its Online Fundamentals Training, with an emphasis on SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, or by the IICRC for its Trauma and Crime Scene Technician Training;
    • Creating a new line of business to address the needs of customers who request cleaning and disinfection after a positive COVID-19 case is identified;
    • Applying for and obtaining ISSA’s (CIMS) certification — expected in late 2020.

    The onset of COVID-19 created some additional challenges for our organization. As the demand for increased cleaning and disinfection occurred, the need for PPE and cleaning supplies skyrocketed, requiring us to shift quickly to find new suppliers. We moved to a centralized inventory tracking system that allowed us to distribute products efficiently as needed, offering our customers peace of mind that we would be able to keep up with their increased demand for services.

    Custodian Day blog_3

    Photo taken prior to the onset of COVID-19.

    This increased need for labor placed pressure on our already stretched workforce, which resulted in the investment of automated tools to help our employees do their jobs more efficiently, including automated vacuums, which allow our staff to maintain social distancing and focus on disinfecting high-traffic touchpoints, and electrostatic sprayers, which allow us to cover more area in less time.

    “The Commercial Services leadership acted swiftly and decisively when faced with unprecedented challenges, resulting in greater efficiencies and a stronger operation, capable of meeting the increased demand created by COVID-19,” Humphrey said. 

    Visit our website to learn more about the janitorial services offered by Goodwill Commercial Services.

    Topics: Goodwill Commercial Services, COVID-19, National Custodian Day

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