Where has Lockdown and Covid taken the industry

Time for a change of approach for Washroom Services post pandemic

Challenging, difficult, disastrous: all words that have been used to describe business since early 2020 when the realities of trading through a pandemic hit home.

(Edit: at time of writing we weren’t in second Lockdown)

 Although full lockdown wasn’t brought in till 23rd March, at Liberty Hygiene we already saw the warning signs with many of our clients scaling back during February and early March.  Offices were emptying and venues closing across London and the South East and with that the need for our services.  I am sure that all my fellow Washroom Service company owners can remember the sheer panic of those days before the government announced the furlough and job retention schemes which gave us all some breathing space.

Time for new directions and like many of our fellow members, we saw the immediate future was the procurement and supply of PPE.  With the global shortages and soaring demand this is when an established network of trusted suppliers became invaluable.

But what of the future for the industry in London and surrounding areas? 

London, the beating business heart of the nation filled with iconic buildings housing numerous head offices of national and multi-national corporations, hotels filled with tourists and business travellers from across the globe, visitor attractions, restaurants, cafes, bars.  None of these are back to the sort of capacity we saw in 2019 nor are likely to be this year or probably 2021 either.

Working from home has become the new normal, it’s worked for many and it’s a real option now.  In turn, this more than likely means that office space across the capital may remain empty or barely occupied.  Standalone Washroom Services are probably not going to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

However what we are seeing demand for is a more flexible approach for clients.  Clients are looking to spend more wisely and looking for a more integrated approach to delivery of a suite of workplace services needed to keep buildings functioning.  Clients tell us that they want to deal with a smaller number of suppliers but those they can trust to meet the wildly fluctuation demand levels that the coming months will bring.

We’ve stepped up to the challenge with more partnerships, alliances and a huge willingness to be flexible.  We’ve updated our offering to actually deliver what the clients want and need.  This is without a doubt the way forward and we’d encourage our fellow IWSA members to think the same, no matter where you are in the country.

Bonus thought:  With the vast swathe of empty office space in London, rents may well plummet.  Will this mean we can move our HQ to the capital?  We’ll let you know if there is a change of address!

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