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How do you handle keeping the kitchen clean?

I'm a manager at a large research lab, in a building with about 200 people per floor. The building is overcrowded and we are having a problem keeping the first floor's kitchen clean. I'm dumbfounded that this problem is taking away any attention from other work.

Kitchens (refrigerators, sinks, toaster ovens, etc) aren't covered by our janitorial contract. The solution that has worked on the other floors is to rotate the responsibility for Friday cleanings among the various units on the floor.

The first floor has been pushing back against this, pointing out that our scientists and engineers have better things they should be spending their time on. They also protest that a number of people don't use the kitchen at all and it seems unfair to require them to clean it.

Anyone have a better solution? Thanks - Sam

cim44's picture

I'm very curious why you can't amend the janitorial contract (and be charged more) or hire a different outside firm to do this?

I find this is a very (in a way) funny problem.  I'm sure my company has similar issues, but its always jarring to see them actually written down on a factual basis like this.

mattpalmer's picture

 One of my favourite MT aphorisms is "Managerial Economics 101", which I believe goes along the lines of "if a manager and a direct can both do a job, then the direct should do it as they're paid less".  In my mind, I've adjusted to simply be "the lowest-paid person who can do a job, should do it".

The exact same thing applies here.  If you've got an engineer being paid $100k+, then you (or someone) is exercising extremely poor judgment at getting that highly paid person on something you can pay a fraction of that to get done.  There's another issue, too -- if you force them to do it, it's extremely likely they'll up stakes and go get another job that doesn't require them to clean the microwave.  I know I would, both because I don't want to (and can get another job where I don't have to), and also because I don't want to work for someone who can't do elementary arithmetic and/or has such poor financial judgment.

AppleJack's picture

My first response is to ask the employees on that floor to come up with an equitable solution, within parameters you provide. Though since they are engineers/scientists the solution may not be something that you ever expected.

Reading Matt Palmer's post, I suspect that he has hit the mark regarding why you are getting so much push back from that floor. It reminds me of a large corporation that tried to save money a few years ago by eliminating most of their IT department and having their engineers and scientists do their own computer upgrades, troubleshooting, etc... Needless to say it did not go well.

The solution is probably somewhere in the middle, requiring anyone who uses the kitchen to clean up after themselves, and to have your janitorial contract amended to make sure the kitchen is cleaned/sanitized once a week.