As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide your staff with a safe, clean and hygienic work environment.  It’s the very least that they can expect.

You can have the hippest coffee, a hi-tech gym and consistent training sessions from Alan Sugar, but none of that matters if your carpets smell, your desks are filthy and don’t even mention the toilets . . . these things give the distinct impression that you don’t care about your employees or their working environment.

Good office cleaning is also necessary to ensure the health of your company. Keeping the germs at bay means your staff will fall ill much less frequently and be more efficient.

Commercial cleaning companies thrive on the internet.  They all have similar glossy websites making the same claims about how they will miraculously transform your commercial property into a sparkling, dust and germ-free haven.

So with that in mind, how do you choose the right one? And once you’ve chosen, how do you know they’re not just popping the duster round and emptying the bins before pocketing any treats your staff may have left lying about, calling their Aunt Mabel in Australia and leaving early?

I had this exact dilemma two years ago when I rented my first commercial property in Peterborough.  Here are my top tips for choosing the right office cleaning company for you:

1. Good old fashioned word-of-mouth.  Ask friends in business to recommend the people that they use, but don’t forget their standards might be different to yours!

2. Have a look at their client list and ring around for references. If Microsoft and M&S trust this company then you can be fairly certain that you can too.

3. Organise a period of probation.  Write a trial into your contract with them so that you don’t find yourself signed up to the wrong company for two years.  This way if it’s not working out you’re legally permitted to terminate their contract.

4. Hire professionals. Check that they have all the right qualifications and insurances.  They need to offer the full range of services that you need and use ecologically friendly products. Question their procedures for training and vetting their staff and make sure you’re happy with them.  It’s a good idea to include a confidentiality clause so that you can ensure they don’t gossip about you on Facebook or sell your company secrets – or at least that if they do you have legal grounds to dismiss them!

5. Make your expectations entirely transparent. Ask for one designated manager to handle your account so that you have a working relationship with someone who knows your premises and understands your requirements. Ensure they are contracted to correct any slapdash work immediately and that they carry out consistent, unexpected spot checks of their own employees. Ask to have the same people every time so they get to know your building – and you.

6. Let them know your standards. If they know you’ll be checking their work every morning and complaining when it’s not right, they are more likely to do a good job.

7. Be personal. It’s difficult to care when you don’t know the person you’re cleaning for. Your cleaners will work harder for a pleasant and welcoming employer than just a faceless office. Stay late a few evenings a week so that you get the opportunity to have a chat with them and encourage your staff to be friendly also. Cleaners can feel like they’re the bottom of the barrel in a company, so let them know you appreciate them and what they do.

8. Most importantly, start as you mean to continue and manage your cleaning company like any other supplier. Expect the same devotion, hard work and standards.  If they don’t work out, don’t give up – there are plenty more fish in the sea.