Every person speaks at least one of the approximately 7,000 languages across the world.

Approximately four in every ten people also speak a second language. It should come as no surprise that our population is very much multilingual. From a sociological perspective, this reflects an inclusive, global society. However, for the logistics of implementing a janitorial cleaning regimen in a North American institution, the lack of a fully English population presents a significant challenge.

Across the continent, over one-quarter (1) of those working in janitorial and environmental services positions are immigrants whose native tongue is not English. This represents over one million workers, all of whom may not be able to comprehend English to a sufficient level required by various training regimens.

There is little doubt that cleaning assessments are needed to ensure effective measures are in place however, conveying gaps and requirements for alterations in protocol may not be fully understood by those who do not speak English. Based on a study performed by Lado (2), the lack of language homogeneity leads to increase costs due to several reasons. First, the need for hiring more managers and supervisors who have competence in two or more languages. Second, a lack of homogeneity among workers themselves can lead to gaps in task effectiveness. Finally, workers may not feel confident enough to share information with supervisors regarding observed lapses in protocols.

In the context of cleaning assessments and remediation, the lack of a single native language can lead to significant troubles, particularly if the information presented is translated from data such as colony forming units and relative luminescence units. This valuable information may be lost in translation and as a result lead to a lack of proper compliance with training (3) .

one global languageOne possible solution is to use real-time color imaging assessments. Because color is universal in its recognition, it can be used to improve learning. Color can draw an individual’s attention (4), eliminate external interference (5), improve memory (6), and help to avoid forgetting due to overstimulation (7).

In the cleaning and environmental services sector, the use of color may be able to improve the understanding of results, help to develop memory of the information, and reduce the chances for a lack of appropriate understanding of the context of the information due to improper translation. The addition of a color-based cleaning assessment therefore offers the opportunity to bridge the language barrier by providing information in a form that is understood by all in a manner that can improve understanding and memory of what is being shared.

The OptiSolve Pathfinder® technology relies on the use of color to provide real-time assessments of cleaning and provides valuable information to leadership on gaps in cleaning effectiveness. These images can be shared with staff to increase their understanding of the cleaning needs in the workplace without the need for translation.

OptiSolved KeyboardIn the short term, the images can lead to instant recognition of problems within an institution and lead to immediate improvements in hotspot areas. The color can also help to train the brain about these regions such that they will be remembered moving forward. Over the long term, images can be used in training modules to improve individual memory of techniques and subsequent adherence to protocols. As staff gain further competence through training, they may also improve their compliance leading to optimal cleaning outcomes.

The OptiSolve Pathfinder system may also improve morale within a company by using color. As Lado (2) points out, the language barrier is also seen as a barrier to respect leading to lower self-confidence and less effective task performance. Moreover, those who do not speak English proficiently tend to look for other positions portending high turnover rates. This can negatively affect cleaning regimens not only with inefficient cleaning outcomes but also a lack of rapport. Inevitably, this leads to an increase in costs to the organization either directly as a result of increased frequency of initial training and indirectly due to poor hygienic conditions. By adding color to cleaning assessments, individuals will feel more aligned with leadership on understanding information and how this can be used to improve lapses in compliance.

Based on the knowledge of the cleaning, janitorial, and environmental services, there is little doubt that a significant portion of the workforce will be multilingual and in many of these cases, English will not be their native language. This means all organizations need to reply on proper translation of information to ensure all workers are achieving the same results. Research has revealed that the incorporation of color in workplace and teaching scenarios can improve the overall situation by helping both the memory and the morale. Thus, OptiSolve Pathfinder presents a potentially useful addition to the leadership toolkit to ensure optimal cleaning effectiveness regardless of language spoken.

To find out more about how OptiSolve can help you make the invisible visible contact info@optisolve.net or call 1.833.765.8300



  1. https://cis.org/Report/There-Are-No-Jobs-Americans-Wont-Do
  2. https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/68292/31749951-MIT.pdf?sequence=2
  3. https://aricjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13756-017-0189-9
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698902005953
  5. http://infovis.cs.vt.edu/oldsite/papers/VisSym02-periphVis.pdf
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Felix_Wichmann/publication/11352307_The_Contributions_of_Color_to_Recognition_Memory_for_Natural_Scenes/links/0912f5092b02cd9415000000/The-Contributions-of-Color-to-Recognition-Memory-for-Natural-Scenes.pdf
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Felix_Wichmann/publication/11352307_The_Contributions_of_Color_to_Recognition_Memory_for_Natural_Scenes/links/0912f5092b02cd9415000000/The-Contributions-of-Color-to-Recognition-Memory-for-Natural-Scenes.pdf