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Custodial's nighttime workers

January 2020

While many HFS employees usually call it a day at or before 5 p.m., some staff have night duties that help keep HFS functioning and providing services 24/7. Here are actions taking place during the night and wee morning hours.

Night custodians: Although many residential areas can be attended to during the day, some facilities require nighttime cleaning. From 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., custodians work to ensure dining venues are ready for morning operations and the childcare facilities at Radford Court, Stevens Court and Laurel Village are cleaned to health and safety standards.

The Night Team consists of a Custodian Supervisor I, Custodian Supervisor II, 2 Leads, and 18 Custodians, broken into teams of three, who visit up to 24 locations nightly. Based in Maple Hall, they pick up supplies, have a quick staff meeting and then are off to their destinations. Locations are assigned to each team for a month and then rotated. When the custodians arrive, there are three different cleaning roles, which they can choose to switch up nightly. 

Could the cleaning be done during the day? No. To ensure the dining and childcare areas are cleaned properly, the spaces need to be people-free. Given Dining’s morning to evening operational hours, overnight is the only time the locations are available. In the childcare centers, a thorough cleaning is a high priority.

Hamid Aflakian, Night Team Supervisor II, who has been part of the team since 1985, emphasizes that by working as a team, they provide consistency of service, support each other, and make a difference in the students’ lives as well as their own. He and his crew have developed a kind of night shift culture based on trust, willingness to learn, and ability to go beyond expectations.

Staff also respond to any emergencies for HFS residents that might occur during the night. The two Leads answer calls from the Resident Advisers on call and can clean up spills or deal with other issues. As Hamid notes, “We never say, ‘No.’” That means they do the best they can to find the solution at the moment (like removing an errant mouse from a room) or provide the information needed for the day crew to take the next step. To keep night staff connected to HFS, Assistant Director for Custodial Services Kate Flowers or Facilities Manager for Custodial Operations Violet Ellington (beginning January 20) visit once or twice monthly. The staff also celebrates a nighttime version of the annual Staff Recognition Event in May.

Kate notes, “They enjoy being able to help the RAs. They really feel connected to us in emergencies. This is when they are our super heroes. If there is a need, they rush in and work directly with the RA.”