As part of this interview, we asked Tobu Building Management about their school cleaning program, which keeps the school buildings clean at iU. Ms. Takanashi, who organizes iU’s cleaning staff, spoke with us. During our interview, we asked how she organizes her team. It is our hope that everyone who uses the iU building will read this interview. We urge you to read all the way to the end.
1. When it comes to cleaning, do you have any special ideas or things you pay attention to?
The management of cleaning tools is strictly enforced at our company. As technical intern trainees may not understand all Japanese, we teach them about cleaning work via pictures and drawings. Depending on the area to be cleaned, towels are separated by color, and trainees are called out if the wrong color towel is used. Hygienic cleaning of toilets, sinks, and glass is done with separate towels. We place used towels in separate buckets for disinfection and wash them separately each day after cleaning. The mops are also used separately and disinfected after each use. All cleaning tools, including towels, mops, and buckets, are color-coded, including gloves.Since the level of cleaning varies initially, we try to raise the level of individual cleaning for our employees to the same level as everyone else. It is so much easier when all employees are on the same level. Due to the fact that there are people from several countries working together and each country perceives the language differently, communication is the most difficult part. As a result, we make an effort to communicate clearly.
2. At what time do your cleaners begin cleaning and how long do they work for? What is the average number of people who are always cleaning?
7:00 a.m. is the start time for the morning cleanup and lasts until 8:30 a.m. This is to ensure the cleaning is completed before students arrive. In addition, vacuuming with a loud vacuum cleaner disrupts lectures, and cleaning at a time when many people are using the restrooms is not a good idea. Our goal is to have most of the cleaning done by 8:30 in the morning when there are fewer people on campus.
We have a total of five people cleaning, myself (Ms. Takanashi) and four technical intern trainees. The number of trainees increases by about three when we need to clean the classrooms. The only person who stays the whole day is me (Ms. Takanashi), and we leave at 4:00 p.m. It is always our policy to make sure that someone is available until 4:00 p.m. in case anything else needs to be done. The inspection work we do involves going around and inspecting areas that have been soiled by human activity and returning them to their original state. As a part of our work, we collect garbage and clean and disinfect the toilets if they are dirty.
3. Can all cleaners be good at cleaning or do they all like to clean?
Despite not particularly enjoying this task, I have to complete it as part of my responsibilities. Considering that work starts early in the morning, there are presumably more people who have finished raising their children. Students at iU are the same age as technical intern trainees. Although they can read hiragana and katakana, they appear to have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to speaking. We communicate with the technical intern trainees and determine which ones understand what we are saying, so they can interpret for the others in easy-to-understand language. Technical intern trainees with the ability to communicate and understand the content are hard to find every year.
4. Can you tell me how the iU students are using the school building? Do people litter or leave their desks dirty?
We do not mind if the desk is dirty or going somewhere. It is our job to clean up the dirty areas when they get dirty, as it is normal for them to get dirty. Each morning, we disinfect the desks with alcohol, so we believe they are clean and ready for use. Nevertheless, we are bothered when we find empty plastic bottles on desks in classrooms. Since it’s hard to tell whether they’re forgotten or unwanted, we’d appreciate it if they were disposed of.Many people leave their chairs out when they leave. We are not responsible for keeping the chairs arranged and in order. Leaving the chairs out makes it difficult to clean them, so we organize them and start cleaning, but if there is a lot of work to do, it takes a long time, and sometimes our own work is delayed. If students could place the chairs inside again, that would be helpful.