BOH Interview: Copthorne Hotel Dubai's Sri Widodo
Copthorne Hotel Dubai executive housekeeper Sri Widodo talks about managing daily responsibilities and challenges within the housekeeping department
What is your career background?
I have an extensive background in housekeeping, with 22 years of work experience at various international hotel chains such as the Shangri-La, Nikko Hotel and Rotana. I have spent 14 years of my career in the Middle East and the rest in Indonesia.
What made you choose this job?
My personal perspective of housekeeping is it’s all about keeping the hotel neat, clean and tidy: from the guestrooms to the entire property, including public areas, back area and the surroundings. I chose this job because I love looking at things and seeing that they are in good order, which is something I do even after working hours. It is a continuous responsibility, so whether I am at work or at home, I make sure that all areas are clean and tidy all the time.
What are your responsibilities at the hotel?
We prepare the guestrooms for our guests and make the hotel fresh and attractive for business every day. Cleanliness in a hospitality operation plays a key role to get repeat business and also commands a fair price. Thus, it is to manage and monitor housekeeping work on a daily basis. This includes organising and planning the team’s daily tasks, scheduling deep cleaning program, budgeted expenses and training of staff.
Could you walk us through a regular day at work?
My day starts with a random checking of public areas such as the car park, gym room, swimming pool and guest corridor. It will be followed by the daily morning briefing with the management team to share any concerns, complaints and suggestions. The rest of the day is about administrative work, reading, following-up and answering emails, routine check of the rooms and corridors and communicating with other departments if there are urgent jobs.
How do you motivate service staff?
Housekeeping can be a tedious job. Daily cleaning of guestrooms involves cleaning bathrooms, tidying beds, vacuuming, dusting, taking the trash out and replenishing any items. There are other areas to clean as well, so it takes a great amount of motivation and commitment to get the work done. I invest great time in having random, simple and meaningful conversation with colleagues. I listen to their concerns and work with the team even in carrying out simple tasks. I encourage and coach them, give honest and sincere feedback and never make false promises.
How do you go about building a strong relationship with your team?
I am a firm believer in ‘walk the talk’ and being honest, open and respectful at all times. I share the owner or brand’s requirements and expectations with the team, so they will always feel that they contribute to its success or failure.
The most successful housekeepers are those who take ownership of their property so we must create an environment where you can completely trust your staff to finish the job because they take ownership of the rooms or their assigned areas.
What are some of the challenges you face in your job? How do you overcome them?
It’s housekeeping, where do I start! Very messy guestrooms contribute to a heavy work load.As we use a third party laundry, sometimes we experience delays in returned linen. Teamwork and communication within the department and front office and engineering departments can also be a challenge sometimes. I overcome these challenges by prioritising tasks and completing them accordingly. I also rely on the strength of my team of supervisors to assist and take responsibility for some areas, while I would personally work on others. The interdepartmental teams are like family; we need to keep our communication honest and may not always agree, but can work together to get the job done and keep our guests happy.