18 February 2021

As clean as a bubble

For the past 5 weeks, ice skaters competing in Thialf at the European Allround & Sprint Championships, the World Cups and the World Distance Championships lived in a bubble. A pilot of The International Skating Union (ISU) which meant that for five weeks athletes stayed in a hotel and trained at Thialf but were not allowed to move elsewhere. And what a success that turned out to be because during those five weeks no one got infected with the coronavirus. Ingrid Schepers tells us how our cleaning team helped to make this possible.


As clean as a bubble

Working in the bubble

What did working in a bubble mean for the EW Facility Services cleaning team at Thialf? Every day we would start early with the cleaning. Before we started, our temperature was measured and we filled in a registration form declaring that we were healthy. Then we went to work in one of our areas. Thialf was divided into areas where bubble users were and were not allowed. The regular cleaning team at Thialf worked during the day (while the athletes were training). They know Thialf like no other. Colleagues from the cleaning team who normally clean at Holland Casino Leeuwarden supported the permanent team and were responsible for the center area. Finally, there was a group of colleagues who were not in the bubble who worked during closing hours to ensure that the location was ready for the next day. This way of working took some time to adjust in the beginning, but soon everything went smoothly. Normally we work with a large audience and set times, but now we had to work in an empty space with varying times.

Flexibility in optimal form

This unique situation demanded a lot of agility from the team even more than usual. Moving flexibly along with Thialf is the most normal thing for us. We are used to easily adapting to the new situation and activities that come with it. The biggest adjustments during the bubble, besides working in 3 teams, were the adjustment of the working hours and the continuous disinfection. This meant, among other things, that all items such as banisters, lids of garbage cans and frequently used appliances were cleaned and disinfected every 15 minutes. In doing so, we always wore a mouth mask and gloves, made sure to stay away from other bubblers as much as possible, and cleaned only when an area was empty. No day was the same and the daily schedule was adjusted on the spot if necessary. This went perfectly. Everyone followed the guidelines with the result that no one contracted the coronavirus during this period. Truly something to be proud of.

A team

The collaboration with the client was excellent. In such a setting you discuss much more with each other than usual. Also, more time was taken for us. We received nothing but compliments on how clean it was and how well everyone stuck to the rules. It was nice to see that they were very satisfied with the team and our work. We also received compliments on this from the skaters. The contact within the bubble was also very good. There was a lot of contact between us. For example, security called us when a room was empty and we could clean there. Normally we have almost no contact with them. Now we worked as 1 team and together we made sure that the time schedules were successfully followed and everything was ready on time. There was a great solidarity and satisfaction in working together to achieve a successful end result. I find it special and very proud that together we were able to organize such a large event. That bodes well for the future!


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