Here Is How The Forgotten Hungarian “Corona Heroes” Fight

  • 4 Feb 2021 10:36 AM
Here Is How The Forgotten Hungarian “Corona Heroes” Fight
From B+N Referencia Ltd: If there is anyone who found themselves under extreme responsibility and pressure during the coronavirus, it is – beside doctors and nurses – the people responsible for cleanliness and hygiene, especially those working in healthcare institutions, on public transport vehicles and stations.

In the past months as the global trade system was collapsing, the acquisition of proper protective equipment and detergents was not an easy feat, and yet, this was one of the most crucial elements of ensuring satisfactory protection from the virus.

Hungarian website portfolio.hu asked B+N Referencia Zrt. Deputy CEO Csaba Szij about the most difficult moments as well as his expectations regarding the quality of cleaning, prices, wages and the general reputation of the cleaning profession.

The importance of facility management companies has reached unprecedented heights. Beside providing the uninterrupted maintenance of empty buildings even in the middle of the home office surge, they also ensure that employers and passengers are met with cleanliness in bigger office buildings, hospitals or even on public transport vehicles.

All this in an environment where there is a veritable bidding war for antiseptic detergents and cleaning supplies are sometimes charged for 10 times as much as their normal price, wrote portfolio.hu.

We asked three facility management companies to find out what they have experienced during the pandemic, whether there is an increase in job applications with the temporary halt of tourism, whether they can provide the necessary equipment for the cleaners or whether there is enough detergent now that everybody is more focused on hygienic guidelines.

General Impressions

Out of the many impression, the interviewees highlighted several points that best summarize facility management nowadays:

According to Neo Property Services, operative processes are in place, but material and spare parts supply is sometimes uneven and the biggest challenge is still the purchasing of reliable sanitizers and detergents. 

B+N Referencia Zrt. gives a very different account on the various fields of facility management:
 “Building refurbishments are still going on full throttle, there is no significant material shortage here, the staff is stable too. Demand for cleaning services has grown significantly, almost every partner switched to virucid detergents, demand for more frequent cleaning has grown and more and more locations are requiring comprehensive disinfection services. The school closure hit the workers in this sector the hardest, but eventually only a small fraction of them fell out of daily work for a longer period.”

Is there enough labour?

This used to be the sector that really suffered from labour shortage. Fluctuation was big, and wages continuously needed to be increased to stop cleaners from leaving. It is a question whether the halt of, for example, tourism managed to ease this pressure.

The companies surveyed gave different accounts, Neo Property Services did not hire bigger masses of employees. Although the more frequent cleaning raised the demand for labour during the first weeks, the shop closure had an even greater decreasing effect on the level and frequency of cleanings.

With the lockdown of facilities the number of error reports decreased too, which made the existing staff sufficient for both maintenance and cleaning. Dome and B+N are already feeling the change in the labour market, according to the latter the number of applicants multiplied in a single week, which made the replacement of job leavers a solved question.

Are there extra costs in terms of detergents? How difficult is it to purchase these products?

The situation is not easy with virucid detergents either: according to B+N their price is 15-40% higher than regular detergents even under normal circumstances, but because of the pandemic this already high price is further raised 1.5 or 2 times. With virucid detergents capacities and purchasing channels are quite narrow, some factories are facing base material supply problems, which in the past weeks has created a veritable bidding war for them.

Beside the price hike seen at detergents, the most significant rise in costs might be found with protective equipment, where masks, gloves and overalls are often sold at a price 10 or 20 times the normal.

The company employs 4100 cleaners who work in specifically dangerous environments, such as hospitals, busy office building and public transport vehicles. The purchase of protective equipment for them only cost about 100 million HUF.

Related interview available by clicking here (in Hungarian)

Click here to visit B+N Online

  • How does this content make you feel?

Explore More Reports

  • 'The Past & Present of Facility Management' by B+N

    'The Past & Present of Facility Management' by B+N

    • 30 Jun 2021 4:49 PM

    Building management is an older profession than many of us would think, and in various forms FM professionals have been in business for a long time. The significance of their work is best confirmed by old buildings themselves, some hundreds of years old, which have survived in all their splendour and are still in operation today.