Cleaning without a rush, but with great passion


The Pigna Foundation provides a wide range of living and working options for people with disabilities in the Zurich Unterland region. Wetrok had the opportunity to accompany the housekeeping team at the Kloten Müliwies location for a day’s cleaning tasks. A report about foam on toilet seats, cleaning airport equipment and a touching gesture.

Unhurried cleaning without time pressure – does that still happen anywhere? It certainly does at the Pigna Foundation in Kloten. The institution, which has a number of locations, provides almost 200 people with mental, psychological and physical disabilities with a workplace and, most of all, with a meaningful task. One of these people is Alessia. Five days a week, the young woman works at the Müliwies workshop in Kloten’s industrial district.

Task assignment in the daily team meeting
It is 9 a.m. and the housekeeping team, which Alessia is part of, is having its daily task allocation meeting. The team has 11 members who take care of cleaning and repair jobs. Some staff members work every day, others just half a day each week, depending on their personal abilities and capacities. Each morning, the day’s tasks are discussed and divided up. “I would like to take care of scrub drying with the Mambo today,” says Alessia. Group leader Salome Brönnimann agrees. She appreciates the team’s initiative: “We make sure that everyone gets a task that matches their abilities and interests. Taking part in working life and belonging to a team are crucial – they are desires very much like those that apply in the regular labour market,” Salome Brönnimann points out. The team members are always happy to support each other: if one person is not feeling well, somebody else will take over their work. The group leaders are actively involved in the work, which ensures that they are always available should any questions arise. All jobs are assigned in record time. Before the work can start, the cleaning cart needs to be stocked. This is also Alessia’s job today.

Being mindful of wheelchair users in the hallway
The petite young woman heads straight for the cabinet with the cleaning materials. She knows exactly which cleaning agents, microfibre cloths and protective materials are needed. Ten minutes later, the cleaning cart is ready to go. Alessia hands it over to Sabrina, who is in charge of sanitary cleaning today. Then she starts her own task: preparing the Wetrok scrubber-dryer. The Discomatic Mambo – affectionately referred to as “the Mambo” by everyone. Alessia is well-versed in dosing the floor cleaning product – the machine is ready for action in no time. All staff members practice dosing with the group leader a number of times before doing it on their own. Safety is paramount at Pigna – the safety of each employee as well as that of their colleagues. This becomes immediately clear, as Alessia carefully positions the warning signs at both ends of the hallway. “The hallway is the route to the canteen, so a lot of people have to walk past here. Some of my colleagues from the workshop use wheelchairs, so we have to be extra careful to prevent accidents,” Alessia explains. Now she’s ready to go. She skilfully manoeuvres the cleaning machine along the hallway, lane by lane. It’s clear that she has done this before.

Two sisters who are experts when it comes to modern cleaning methods
Meanwhile, her colleague Sabrina is busy in the bathroom, where she is cleaning the washbasin and the accessible toilet. All she needs is a microfibre cloth and a small foam bottle. Before starting, she filled the bottle with water and a cleaning product (Wetrok Reocid). She dispenses a little foam onto the cleaning cloth and then removes dirt and limescale from the washbasin’s fittings. She performs the cleaning process with a level of care that can rarely be seen in the industry. Afterwards, she even checks to make sure that no dirt or limescale residue is left. The foam method is very safe to use and ideal for this type of facility. Compared to working with spray or a water bucket, foam has two major health advantages: the staff members do not inhale any spray particles, and they do not need to wring out cloths or carry heavy buckets, either. Sabrina is happy about this; after all, she wants to save her energy for her football training in the afternoon. There is a knock on the bathroom door, and Sabrina’s sister Nadja appears in front of the door with the vacuum cleaner. She works at Pigna too, usually at the Bülach location. However, the teams have been put together slightly differently now due to the coronavirus crisis. Nadja can make a direct comparison when it comes to cleaning methods, as buckets and water are (still) used in Bülach: “With the cleaning bucket, we wash out the microfibre cloth between the rooms, but some dirt always stays in the cloth. It’s very different with foam: we always use a new side of the cloth or even a completely new cloth when we move to another room. This makes working with the foam method significantly more hygienic,” she explains her preferences. Even her choice of words gives away that we are not talking to an untrained cleaning aid, but a qualified cleaning specialist. She shuts the door and heads towards the entrance area with the vacuum cleaner.

The vacuum cleaner must not be a disruption
Nadja volunteered to vacuum today. It is an activity she likes. “There is something relaxing about vacuuming. I like doing it at home too, because I like how clean the apartment feels afterwards,” the young woman says. She shares an apartment in the local area with her sister Sabrina, and takes the bus four days a week to go to work at the Pigna Foundation. She diligently cleans the carpet with the Monovac Comfort. The dry vacuum cleaner is ideal for this environment, as the special Silent Mode allows for the level of noise to be minimized. This is important, as work that requires utmost concentration is carried out in the adjacent workshops – for example, packaging headphones for the Swiss airline company. “We are hired to disinfect the passengers’ headphones after use, to roll up the cables and to re-pack them. We usually get around 10,000 headphones a week. Since airline traffic came to a halt due to the coronavirus, this job is currently on hold, unfortunately,” site manager Eckhard Schmidt explains regretfully. This type of assembly work is carried out by staff of the Pigna workshops in Bülach and Kloten. Nadja is still busy vacuuming, while keeping a close eye on the Wetrok photographer doing his work. Photography is one of her favourite hobbies, so watching a professional photographer at work is a rare opportunity for her. After a short exchange between photography lovers, it is time to move on to the stairwell. This is where the Wetrok backpack-type vacuum cleaner comes in. In a five-storey building, this job can take quite a while.

The least expensive cleaning machine is useless if safety aspects and services are not up to par
It is now time for the lunch break. The team members make their way to the in-house canteen. For us, this is a good opportunity to talk to site manager Eckhard Schmidt and to learn a bit more about Pigna’s working philosophy. The foundation prefers to cooperate with partners and suppliers that, in turn, award contracts to the Pigna workshops. This is also true for the cooperation with Wetrok: “We are Wetrok customers on the one hand, sourcing cleaning materials. On the other hand, Wetrok is a customer of Pigna, outsourcing auxiliary tasks from machine production to members of our workshop staff. It’s a win-win situation,” the site manager explains. Pigna staff members do, in fact, support Wetrok on a regular basis by assembling small engine parts and packaging product samples. However, there is another reason why Wetrok is the only cleaning materials supplier the site manager would consider: the easy to use machines, the excellent safety of both the products and the cleaning methods and the supplementary training options. “With Wetrok, I can trust that we are in good hands and will receive the best expert advice possible, whenever we need it. After all, the least expensive cleaning machine is useless if safety aspects and services are not up to par,” Eckhard Schmidt points out. Something comes to his mind, and he smiles as he says: “We recently got to attend a cleaning workshop at Wetrok and then ride around the building on the ride-on scrubber-driers. Our staff felt as though they were driving a Ferrari. That was a true highlight for everyone.”

Rotation system for varied working days
The Pigna Foundation differs from regular companies in a number of ways: “Our staff members need a contact person they can establish a relationship with, and who spends time with them and shows them the work routines – several times if needed. If these individuals quit, it often creates significant challenges for us,” Eckhard Schmidt admits. The cleaning quality, on the other hand, differs in a positive way: “Our staff members may take a little longer for certain tasks, but our people clean more thoroughly than many regularly hired facility cleaners, especially because there is no pressure as far as time and cost goes,” he proudly explains. But he staff members are not only diligent; they are also flexible: the housekeeping team regularly helps out in the laundry area, the kitchen and the workshops. Sabrina stays in the kitchen after lunch today, while Nadja takes care of cleaning the surfaces in the office rooms. In the afternoon there is often time to perform external cleaning jobs. Among the regular jobs is a task performed for Zurich Airport: the Pigna Foundation cleans and disinfects the boxes in which the passengers place their valuables during the security check. Around 12,000 boxes are cleaned every year. However, this job was also lost due to the coronavirus.

A farewell surprise
It is 4 p.m. The team’s working day is drawing to a close. As we pack up our photography equipment, housekeeping staff member Alessia and craft hour participant Arlinda suddenly appear. They are smiling secretively while hiding something behind their backs. The two young women bring their hands to the front at the same time to reveal their secret: two hand-braided bracelets in beautiful rainbow colours. We are emotionally touched as we admire their handiwork and reach for the bracelets. “One moment please; the blue bracelet is for the gentleman, and the pink one is for the lady,” Alessia explains as she hands over the designated bracelets.  These souvenirs will remind us of our exceptional day for a long time. A day with a truly “extraordinary” team – extraordinarily dedicated, extraordinarily warm-hearted, extraordinarily kind, and extraordinarily helpful.

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