Wednesday, July 20, 2005


We have a tile floor in my office and we pay an outside company to clean and buff this floor along with all of the other tile floors in our building, with the notable exception of the bathrooms. The floor guys come in at night to avoid disrupting the normal workday. Recently the decision was made to have the floors cleaned twice a month rather than once a month. In a normal office building this wouldn't be an issue, however at my place of employment it is. We are required to have one person from each area being cleaned here to watch the people doing the floors due to some issues we have had with them in the past. The issues I have heard about include:

  • A member of the floor cleaning crew was in our onsite workout facility (which is provided as a free service by the company to employees) and he got confrontational when some people were discussing the NBA playoffs and dissing the L.A. Lakers. This incident resulted in them having their access codes taken away, which means we now have to wait on the loading docks and let them in.
  • One employee had left his cell phone on his desk when he went home for the day. By the time he noticed he did not have it, the floor crew was hard at work. He came back up to the office and was not able to find his phone on his desk. He called his phone and he heard his cell phone ringing. IN ONE OF THE FLOOR CREWMEMBERS POCKET! The guy handed over the phone with the lame excuse that he was going to give it to someone as a lost and found item. Okay. Except that it was sitting on the employee's desk. It wasn't in some random place.
  • Periodically in my department we are in 24-hour production, however for most of the off-hours we only need one person here. One night while they were doing the floors we had one of our female employees here flying solo. She left the department to go to the bathroom or get a Coke or something and on her way back the floor crew tried to chat her up. While somewhat inappropriate, it wouldn't really be an issue, particularly for the person in question. However after she blew them off, they followed her down the hall and pounded on the door while yelling that they just wanted to talk. The employee locked herself in the department for the remainder of her shift.
  • More than once when I have been assigned to watch the floor crew they have come in reeking of pot smoke. I don't mind if you rock the ganj, however my company has a STRCIT no drug use policy, and you really shouldn't be smoking out before operating floor buffers and the like. They have also been seen smoking out in the parking lot AFTER they have completed the floors. I have discussed this with other people that have been assigned to do this and they have the same experiences.
  • About a month ago the digital camera kept in one of the departments went missing. It was used on Wednesday and put away, the floors were done on Wednesday night, and then Thursday morning when the camera was needed, it could not be found. The clear conclusion is that either someone on the floor crew lifted the camera, or someone used them as cover for lifting the camera. Personally I would discount the second option because anyone who is smart enough to plan that out would also be smart enough to realize it was an exceptionally low-end camera that would not be worth the risk.

You would think anyone of the incidents listed above would be enough to have the floor company put on notice. A second or third offense would have been enough for us to terminate their contract and either take care of this in house (like we do ALL other janitorial duties) or find a new company. However this is not how we do things here. We are continuing to use this same company and rather than punish them for their misbehaviors, we are rewarding them with a new contract and increasing the frequency with which we have the floors cleaned! We now have to be here twice a month to baby-sit these people.

Now, I am a big boy and I can handle myself when there is trouble. Also, I have lived in some not-to-nice neighborhoods in Houston where I was the ethnic diversity. I tell you this so you can understand I am not easily frightened (except by Jay Leno's chin and fundamentalists of any stripe), however I am not comfortable being in the building after hours with these guys. Particularly if I am expected to monitor their behavior and prevent any malfeasance on their part. I have discussed my concerns with some of my coworkers and I know I am not the only person to have these concerns. I have expressed this to my supervisor both in private conversations and via an email and nothing real has been said or done except to clarify that we are here to report if the floor crew misbehaves and not actually prevent anything from happening.

The one question I am stuck on here is why do we even hire an outside company at all? We have a full-time janitorial staff that takes care of everything else in the building, and we already have to keep people here to baby-sit the floor crew, so it is not a personnel issue. One of the buffers used by the floor crew is owned by my company, therefore it is not an issue of not having the proper equipment and not wanting to make the investment in capital. No one that I am willing to talk to about this issue seems to be able to answer this question, so my nice guess is that inertia is playing into these decisions more than actual logic. My not-nice guess is that someone is getting their back-scratched.

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