Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Window Washing

Window washing isn’t what it used to be.

I’m referring specifically to the large office buildings that are mostly covered with glass on the outside. Until about a decade ago, business made sure to get those windows cleaned, usually by a small crew on a hanging platform, close to once a year. Often building owners would insist on this, writing the requirement for annual window cleaning into office leases.

It just occurred to me that I have seen only one of those window cleaning crews on an office building in the last four years. I can’t say how much or how abruptly window cleaning declined, but you can see at a glance that the windows on many office buildings haven’t been touched in the last five years.

Street-level retail stores, which depend in a more immediate way on the sparkling image that clean windows provide, are still getting windows cleaned often enough to maintain a semblance of that look, though it is not necessarily as often as before. Sparkling office windows, though, are no longer a requirement.

This change makes good financial sense given the squeeze on business budgets and the lackluster state of the commercial real estate market of the last six years. But it is just another way in which the corporate world is losing its shine.