Housekeeping Department

Housekeeping – Definition, Role, Responsibilities and Layout

1. Definition of Housekeeping

Housekeeping may be defined as ‘provision of a clean, comfortable, safe and aesthetically appealing environment’. By another definition, ‘housekeeping is an operational department in a hotel, which is responsible for cleanliness, maintenance, aesthetic upkeep of rooms, public areas, back areas and the surroundings’.

The term Housekeeping outside the hospitality, hospitals refers to the management of daily duties and chores involved in the running of a household, such as cleaning, cooking, home maintenance, shopping, and bill payment etc. These daily recurring tasks may be performed by any members of the household, or by other persons like butler or maids who are hired for the purpose.

2. Role of Housekeeping

Housekeeping department in hotel ensures the cleanliness, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal of all rooms and public areas. The housekeeping department not only turnarounds (prepares and clean guestrooms) on a timely manner it also cleans and maintains everything in the hotel so that the property is as fresh and attractive similar to the day when it opened the doors for the business.

The effort that the housekeeping makes in giving a guest a desirable room has a direct bearing on the guest’s experience in a hotel. Thre are more employees working in the housekeeping department when compared to any other hotel departments.

Being responsible for the turnaround of the rooms in a timely manner, housekeepings primary communications are with the front desk/reception team. Each room status is updated on a regular basis from the housekeeping to the front desk and vice versa. With new technologies available a room status update can be done via the hotel software, telephone systems, housekeeping mobile applications etc.

Housekeeping also coordinates closely with the maintenance or engineering department, as the housekeeping staff identifies different types of maintenance issues while cleaning the rooms and reports to the maintenance team for rectification or replacement. Example snags or issue with the TV, AC, Heating unit, Plumbing, Lighting, Electrical faults, Furniture, Toilet, Vanity, Tub, Towels racks, Ventilation issues etc.

The role of housekeeping can change depending upon the type or category of the hotel, for example only in a luxury or full-service hotel evening or turndown services are offered by the housekeeping department. The housekeeping department is one of the major \’Support Centre\’ in the hotel as it doesn\’t generate any major revenue for the hotel.

Housekeeping is considered as a \’back of the house\’ department even though they have some direct contact to the guests; like for example while cleaning rooms, picking up laundry, providing evening or turndown services etc.

3. Housekeeping Department Organizational Chart

Housekeeping organizational chart provides a clear picture of the line of authority, The housekeeping department in a large hotel or 5 Star Hotel is headed by the executive housekeeper. He/she reports to the general manager, or to the resident manager, or the rooms division manager in a large hotel. In the case of a chain of hotels, the executive housekeeper also reports to the director of housekeeping, who heads the housekeeping departments in all the hotels of that chain.

The deputy housekeeper assists the executive housekeeper and looks after the various areas of responsibility in the hotel, that is, floors, public areas, the linen room, desk control and staffing etc.

The Housekeeping Organizational Chart in a large hotel also contains multiple supervisors for each section of the housekeeping like the Laundy, Desk Control, Floor Supervisor, Public Area Supervisor, Night Supervisor etc. each of these supervisors reports to the Assitant Housekeeper or the Executive housekeeper.

Find below a standard housekeeping Organizational chart. Also, the housekeeping structure changes as per the type of hotel and its operation methods, read more about the different type of housekeeping organizational chart.

4. Different Sections in the Housekeeping

Executive Housekeeper\’s office: An Executive housekeeper has to plan, counsel, brief and meets her subordinates. It should preferably be a glass-panelled office so as to give her/him a view of what is happening outside the office. The office should be led by a cabin for the secretary who would control movement into the housekeeper\’s office.

Desk control room: This room acts as a nerve system centre for coordination and communication with the front office and other departments. The desk control room should have a large notice board to pin up staff schedules and day to day instructions. The desk control room is the point where all staff report for duty and check out at the duty end.

Linen room: This is the room where current linens are stored for issue and receipt. The room should be large airy and free from heat and humidity. It should have adequate shelves, easily accessible to stack all linen. It should be secured and offer no possibilities of pilferage. The linen room should have a counter, across which the exchange of linen takes place. The room should preferably be adjoining the laundry so as to supply linen to and from the laundry.

Linen room store: This room stores the stock of new linen & cloth materials for uniform, etc. the stock maintained should be enough to replenish the whole hotel at a time. However, these stocks are only touched when the current linen in circulation falls short due to shortage, damage or loss. The room should be cool and dry with ample shelves, generally 6\” above the ground.

Uniform room: This room stocks the uniform in urgent use. It is possible that smaller hotel may choose to combine the uniform room with the linen room. A separate uniform room really depends upon the volume of uniforms in circulation. The only difference will be that the uniform room would have adequate hanging facilities as many uniforms are best maintained when hung.

Tailor\’s room: This room is kept for house tailors who attend to the stitching and patch-up work of linen and uniforms. Room is avoided if the mending and the stitching jobs are done in contract basis.

Lost and found section: This section should be small and airy with cupboards to store guest articles lost and maybe claimed later.

Flower room: This should be an air-conditioned room to keep flowers fresh. The room should have a work table, a sink with a water supply and all necessary tools required for flower arrangement.

Laundry: This is an important section under housekeeping which is responsible for the cleaning of all fabrics used in the hotel. The section should be adjacent to the linen room so as to avoid excessive steps. Laundry should ensure the cleanness and drying of all guest clothes, employee uniforms and linen to the best-assured standard.

5. Housekeeping Staffing Calculation

Compared to other hotel departments, the housekeeping department employs the largest workforce in most hotels. Manpower thus becomes a major operating expense. Good management of the housekeeping department depends on achieving a balance between the workload and the staff strength. When calculating staff strength, it must be remembered that each property will have its individual requirements.

The factors to be considered here are the type of hotel, location of the hotel, traditions and customs of the locality, the size of the hotel (in terms of the number of rooms), the occupancy rate of the hotel, management needs and policies, the quantity of work to be done per room, the quality of work expected, the standards to be met, The time needed to do the work, the frequency with which the work needs to be done etc.

The staff strength of the housekeeping department mainly depends on the size and structure of the hotel, that is, whether it has a compact structure with clusters of rooms, the number of rooms per cluster or floor, the expanse of the public areas and landscaped areas, and so on. The general rule of thumb that aid in determining staff strength in the housekeeping department is given below.

Standard Rules for determining Housekeeping staff strength:

  • Executive housekeeper: 1 for a 300 room property
  • Secretary to the Executive Housekeeper: 1 normally only in a very large full-service hotel.
  • Assistant housekeepers: 2 (1 per morning and evening shift)
  • Floor supervisors: 1 per 60 rooms for the morning shift; 1 for the evening shift; 1 for the night shift.
  • Public area supervisors: 1 for each shift
  • Linen/Uniform room supervisors: 1 for each shift
  • Room attendants: 1 per 16 rooms for the morning shift; 1 per 30 rooms for the evening shift (if turn down service is provided)
  • Linen and uniform room attendants: 2
  • Housemen: depends on the size of public areas and functions expected, but on average, 1 per 60 rooms
  • Desk attendants: 1 per shift
  • Tailors/upholsterers: 2 (may differ depending on the size of the hotel)
  • Horticulturist: 1 or more depending upon the size of the hotel.
  • Head gardeners: 1 per 20 horticulturists
  • Gardeners: 1 per 4500 sq. ft of landscaped area

6. Housekeeping as a supporting centre or ancillary department

It is rightly said that housekeeping is a 24 x 7 x 365 operation. Imagine the stacks of linen needed to make up all the beds in a hotel; the huge amounts of bath soap, tissue, and other amenities such as shampoos, colognes, and so on that must be placed in the guestrooms; the miles of carpeting, floors, walls, and ceilings to be cleaned and maintained; the countless pieces of furniture that must be dusted and polished, and the barrels of cleaning compounds along with special tools and equipment needed in order to clean these.

Other than hotels, professional housekeeping services are very much in demand in hospitals, on cruise liners, at offices, and more. Since most such organizations prefer to outsource these functions, contract housekeeping is becoming a lucrative entrepreneurship venture these days. Housekeeping, thus, is an ancillary department that contributes in a big way towards the overall reputation of a property.

As mentioned above the tasks performed by the housekeeping are critical for the smooth daily operation of any hotel regardless of its category, size, location, number of rooms etc. Also, the critical point in achieving operational success is the teamwork which must exist between housekeeping and the front office, engineering, maintenance personals etc.

An Image of Housekeeping Cleaning the Guest Corridor 

6. Areas Under the Responsibility Of Housekeeping

Staffs of the Housekeeping department have very little or no guest contacts in some scenarios, this is mostly due to the fact that most of the work carried out by the housekeeping staffs are in the back of the house area. Hence, housekeeping is considered as a back of the house department.

Even though housekeeping is a back of the house department they are still responsible for the maintaining and up-keeping of the house areas and also back of the house areas alike. Below diagram shows the areas which come under the responsibility of the housekeeping.

7. Main Responsibilities of Housekeeping

  • To ensure well furnished and maintained guestrooms and public areas.
  • To ensure excellence in housekeeping sanitation, safety, comfort and aesthetics for hotel guests.
  • To oversee the coordination of and administer all housekeeping programs and projects.
  • To act as a source of contact in interdepartmental communications, vendors, professional agencies etc.
  • To act provide a budget, budget control, and forecasting related to housekeeping.
  • To achieve the maximum efficiency in ensuring the care and comfort of guests & in the smooth functioning of the department.
  • To establish a welcoming atmosphere.
  • To ensure courteousness, reliable service from all staff to the guest.
  • To ensure a high standard of cleanliness and general upkeep in all areas for which the department is responsible.
  • To provide linen in rooms, restaurants, banquet halls, conference halls, health clubs etc, as well as to maintain an inventory for the same.
  • To provide uniforms for all the staff & maintain inventory for the same.
  • To Cater to the laundering requirements of hotel linen, staff uniforms, and guests.
  • To provide & maintain the floral decorations and to maintain the landscaped areas of the hotel.
  • To select the right contractors & ensure the quality of work is maintained.
  • To co-ordinate renovation and refurnishing of the property in consultation with the management & with interior designers.
  • To co-ordinate with the purchasing department for the procurement of guest supplies, cleaning agents, equipment, fabrics, carpets, & other items used in the hotel.
  • To deal with lost & found articles.
  • Carpet shampooing and maintaining.
  • Dealing with any guest queries, complaints & requests as they occur.
  • To keep the general manager or administrator informed of all matters requiring attention.

8. Standard Room Status Codes Used in Housekeeping

Occupied: A guest currently registered to the room.

Complimentary: The room is occupied, but the guest is not charged for its use.

Stayover: The guest is not checking out today and will remain at least one more night.

On-change: The guest has departed, but the room has not yet been cleaned and readied for resale.

Do Not Disturb (DND): The guest has requested not to be disturbed. 

Sleep-out: A guest was booked to the room, but the bed has not been used.

Skipper: The guest left the hotel without paying the bill.

Sleeper: The guest has settled his/her account and left the hotel, but the front office staff has failed to properly update the room\’s status.

Vacant and ready: The room has been cleaned and inspected and is ready for an arriving guest.

Out Of Order (OOO): The cannot be assigned to a guest and is blocked for maintenance activity.

Lock Out: The room has been locked so that the guest cannot re-enter until they are cleared by the front desk.

DNCO: Did not check out, the guest made arrangements to settle his or her account but has left without informing the front desk.

Due Out: The room is expected to become vacant after the following day\’s check-out time.

Check Out: The guest has settled his or her account, returned the room keysand left the hotel.

Late Checkout: The guest has requested and is being allowed to check-out later than the standard check-out time.

Early Checkin: The guest has requested and is being allowed to check-in earlier than the standard check-in time.

9. Housekeeping Room Status Cycle Diagram

10. Cleaning Equipment Used in Housekeeping

Efficient cleaning and maintenance are dependent upon high-quality cleaning equipment, correctly using. Though only 5-10% of the overall cost incurred on cleaning is accounted for by cleaning equipment and agents, selecting the ideal equipment plays a major role in the cleaning process. There will often be several ways of carrying out any particular cleaning task and different types of equipment that can be employed for it.

It is the executive housekeeper’s responsibility to select the most appropriate piece of equipment according to the hotel’s requirement. Most types of cleaning equipment fall under the category of recycled items, but a few large pieces of items may be considered as fixed assets. The correct choice of quality cleaning equipment could save costs due to breakdowns, reduce fatigue and also ensure overall efficiency in operations.

The equipment used in the cleaning of the surface, furniture and fittings in a hotel building includes both 1) Manual Equipments and 2) Mechanical Equipment.

1. Manual Equipment: Manual equipment can include all types of equipment that clean or aid in the cleaning process by directly using manoeuvre, operation and energy of employees. Examples of Manual cleaning equipment are Brushes, Mops, Brooms, Cloths, Polish applicators, Containers, Buckets etc.

2. Mechanical Equipment: The various pieces of mechanical equipment used in the housekeeping department are usually powered by electricity or gas. The staff should be well-trained in the operation of this equipment since incorrect usage will not only lead to inefficient cleaning but may also become a safety hazard. Examples of mechanical equipment used in housekeeping are Vacuum cleaners, Electric brooms, Wet-and-dry vacuum cleaners, floor maintenance machine for scrubbing, buffing polishing etc.

11. The layout of the Housekeeping Department

The layout of the housekeeping is the physical demarcation of areas in the department. When the layout is well-planned, it enables the smooth functioning of the department. The layout is dependent on the size of the hotel as well as physical space restrictions. Normally, the layout is decided by the executive housekeeper, at the facility planning stage in setting up the hotel.

The following factors are taken into consideration when deciding on the area and layout:-

The layout of the housekeeping department in the hotel:

  • Housekeeping department should be in such a place which is accessible to all the employees.
  • Housekeeping department should be in that area which is at the backside of the hotel, not disturbing any guests.
  • Housekeeping department should be on the ground floor which must be able to hold heavy equipment.
  • Housekeeping department should be in such a place which is away from the general traffic.
  • Housekeeping department should be in a convenient place to keep the different types of equipment used.

The total number of guest rooms:

  • Number of function rooms and number of food-and-beverage outlets
  • Amount of manpower required
  • The volume of business anticipated
  • The number of jobs contracted out.
  • The flow of traffic (people and equipment)

The following areas constitute the layout of a housekeeping department:

  • Executive housekeeper’s cabin
  • Secretary’s cabin
  • Desk Control Room
  • Lost and found Section
  • Housekeeping Stores
  • Florist’s room
  • Linen and Uniform room
  • Linen Store
  • Sewing room
  • Floor Pantry/Maid’s service room 
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