From June to November 2017 I lived and worked in Toronto, Canada, as a housekeeper in a hostel. When I joined the team we had two main issues during the 11.00 AM – 3.00 PM shift: we were just 4 team members and we couldn’t make the beds and clean the floors on time. We had to do a great teamwork to find a solution.

Our problem

We had a poor team organization. We used to have 60 to 110 beds to clean in 4 hours, we often couldn’t make it on time. Customers often complained at the front desk that, when they checked-in, rooms weren’t ready yet. We wanted to improve our teamwork to reduce customers complaints and finish all the beds on time.

Our approach to the problem and defining personas

We had 3 types of rooms to clean:

For groups of people, from 3 to 12, who rented a whole dorm.
Type of customers: Pretty demanding families or young and big school/scout groups with teachers.

For couples or family of maximum 3 people.
Type of customers: Very demanding customers who liked the most comfort and cleanliness possible.

Big rooms with bunk beds from 4 to 12 spots, dedicated mainly to solo or friends travelers.
Type of customers: Not really demanding and pretty easygoing.

We decided to give different priorities to rooms. Since group rooms and private rooms were our main priority we decided to clean them first and clean dorms last. Our objectives were cleaning rooms on time in order to reduce our visits to the rooms, from many to no more than two in 4 hours, and stop customer complaints.

The process (aka finding customer-centered solutions)

We used to receive the list of dirty rooms in the morning from our front desk agents colleagues. Before we started cleaning, we divided our group of four people into two groups of two people and gave us different rooms to clean.

Here is how we organized our work:

At the beginning of the shift, we cleaned them all first, one by one.

After group rooms, we cleaned them all one by one.

We cleaned them last. We split our work into two phases: we changed the sheets first in each room and then we went back to the first dorm to clean all the dorms one by one.

Results and benefits of this new method

  • Benefits for customers: group and private rooms let customers get into the room right after it was done. They didn’t have to wait for the check-in time, this made them really happy.
  • Benefits for the housekeeping team: this method allowed us to reduce visits to the rooms from many to no more than two because when we were done with a room we didn’t have to go back again to clean.
  • Benefits for dorm rooms: dorm rooms were usually really big and busy but, compare to the other rooms, customers weren’t too demanding. Splitting the cleaning into two phases helped us to speed up the first phase of changing sheets and then go back to clean the rooms without being in a hurry.

Measuring success

In the next following months, we refined our new method until we got really close to our objective: 9 out 10 times, we could make our job on time. Customers started giving good reviews about cleanliness and the numbers of complaints decreased significantly.

great teamwork
A note that very nice customers wrote to us the day they left the hostel.

*All the Icons are created by Vectors Market