Lady with mask and viruses

COVID-19 has changed our definition of "clean" and that will likely lead to a change in our yearly rhythm. From now on, "flu season" as we know it may cease to exist.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

By Afshin Cangarlu

Anyone who is in the cleaning industry understands that flu season has always been considered the “busy” season. Much like accountants during the month of April, it’s the time when our services and expertise are called on the most often.

As professionals in this industry, we’ve spent the fall and winter months educating our clients and the public on ways to keep offices, restaurants, and retail spaces safe and how to reduce germs.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way our society defines what “clean” means, and that will likely lead to a change in our yearly rhythm. It is quite possible that, moving forward, flu season may be just one of a handful of similarly busy times for the cleaning industry.

The public is more educated about germs

This all starts with the general public, who are now more educated about germs and cleaning than ever before. Since March of 2020, there have been tens of thousands of interviews with cleaning and health experts circulated by media outlets around the world.

These experts have explained, in detail, the importance of keeping surfaces clean. People learned about “high-touch points” like computer keyboards, door handles, and light switches. They also learned the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. These lessons have been repeated over and over again for the past 20 months.

The proper ways to clean are now much more top of mind for the average person, who is likely to keep more stringent cleaning habits in a post-pandemic world as a result. This general awareness will likely cause the demand for commercial cleaning to rise outside of the traditional flu season.

Flu isn’t the only thing to worry about

Flu season has always been an important time for cleaning because the flu is one of the most well-known and deadly viruses. While many people were already aware of the dangers of flu, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how many viruses can truly wreak havoc if they are allowed to spread.

Business owners are far more likely to take germs seriously moving forward. They will have employees and customers who are educated on the many risks associated with germs and will demand cleaner workspaces.

According to the CDC, this year’s flu season is expected to be particularly tough on citizens of North America. This is due, in part, to reduced immunity to the flu within society. Social distancing and masking measures helped to all but wipe out the flu in 2020 but will also have contributed to this reduced immunity. Now, companies will be faced with the task of defending their spaces against both the coronavirus and the flu.

The variety of viruses and bacteria that could lead to illness will likely inspire business owners to pay more attention throughout the year, not just during flu season.

Cleaning is no luxury

Before the pandemic, cleaning companies were seen largely as a luxury for most businesses. They were considered nice to have if you could fit that cost into the budget. These days, the services provided by cleaning companies are recognized as absolutely essential.

As offices around the world try to lure people back into the workplace, they will have to provide a clean and safe environment. Customers are now likely to inquire about cleaning habits or look for posted signs around restaurants and in stores. This new standard will stretch far beyond flu season and is expected to be a norm for the foreseeable future. It will no longer be acceptable for a business to hire commercial cleaning companies simply on a seasonal basis. Business owners will likely start viewing cleaning companies as a yearly utility cost, much like electricity and the internet.

This new focus on cleanliness and sanitation is obviously good news for the cleaning industry from a financial standpoint, but we must work hard to meet the increased demand. It is extremely important that we train our teams to value consistency and continuously strive to keep high standards.

Commercial cleaning got a chance to play a major role during the pandemic, providing a service that has helped to keep people safe and healthy. Now, as we move forward and look ahead, our industry will likely be called on to continue this increased role every month of the year.

Afshin Cangarlu is the CEO of Los Angeles-based international green commercial cleaning franchise company Stratus Building Solutions. He has more than a decade of experience working in the commercial cleaning industry. Stratus was developed to provide environmentally friendly commercial cleaning services driven by dedicated, entrepreneurial small-business owners and regional support offices.