I have been running a hotel with my husband for the past ten years and over these years have helped out in all departments for maybe a day or two when we have been short staffed or when someone calls in sick at the last minute. However, in the last two weeks I gave myself the task to fully support the housekeepers. I just jumped into the job doing whatever was required from cleaning the toilets, bathrooms, polishing, making beds, vacuuming, to restocking teas and coffees.
What I really got to appreciate is that there is only a short window of opportunity to prepare the rooms from when guests leave to when the next guests arrive, and in that time everything has to be done, from cleaning the room, to polishing, dusting, making the beds, fresh waters and topping up teas and coffee facilities. Once all that’s done, then the public areas need to be cleaned and finally the counting and bagging of all the dirty laundry. Wow, this is a task… with guests leaving at 11am and the next ones arriving by 3pm… not a long time between at all!
I was amazed at how in an orderly fashion our staff had got into a rhythm and flow… what to start with and what to finish with… the timings being perfect, completing each room within the short period of time allotted. It really got me to stop and appreciate the team I have had for many years who have done this role day in day out and are still smiling at the end of the day, even though some days the rooms are much messier than usual, especially after a late party or wedding.
It is sure not a job for the faint hearted, as there is a lot of lifting and bending involved, and many steps up and down the building. You don’t need a gym membership when you do a housekeeping role in hotel: climbing all the steps several times a day and lifting bags is more than your daily allowance.
Our staff often laugh about how many steps they have to go up and down and how strong their arms have become from all the lifting and carrying. My husband often laughs too and says maybe we should collect a gym membership for all the fitness they receive on the job! But on a serious note, it is a job that when done with a purpose in mind, not only leaves a beautiful imprint for another to feel, but also keeps your body quite supple and fit.
What I have come to truly appreciate is that the housekeeping role is actually very demanding on the body and if the body is not looked after and nourished, you could very easily fall ill. Hydration is very important too as you are burning lots of calories. If you’re not taking rest moments and deeply resting when you are at home, you may find yourself going straight for the sugar and carbs to keep yourself going instead of making sure you are resting sufficiently. There is so much to work with and bring into one’s awareness when being a housekeeper.
People often look down at housekeeping as being the worst job in the industry, but in truth it is the most important job in the foundational sense as the housekeepers leave a lovely clean space for everyone to enjoy; without this there would be no clean space and no customers!
When we stop and reflect on this truth, it really knocks out the hierarchical attitude in the hospitality industry as to housekeeping being the worst job and chefs and managers being the best. Being an owner and having worked in all departments of hospitality, I know without a doubt that everyone’s role is equally important; there is no hierarchy at all. Everyone just has different responsibilities they have to carry out; at the end of the day the goal is the same – to provide a true service, which provides our customers with a pleasant experience.
I really enjoyed working in the housekeeping role as I truly got to experience the full responsibilities of the job under a very tight time constraint. What I also enjoyed was how I stayed connected with my body and my movements found a flow as I completed the task at hand, whether it was cleaning toilets, bathrooms or making the beds. To me all of these roles were equally important. I was aware in each moment that the imprints I left behind would be felt by the next person that came in and that’s when I felt the impact of true responsibility.
Staying present and connected to the task at hand, I could feel time expand around me. And I still managed to get my office work done once I had completed the housekeeping duties!
By Amita Khurana, BSc Honours, Hotel Business Owner, Pure Harmony Clinic, Director, Practitioner, UK