In our day and age, time is precious. We live much longer but it seems the older we get, the quicker time speeds up. Work, family, travel, everything we do tends to end up in a bit of a rush. So to get control of time, its important to think carefully about lifestyle and choices that are made. Wise decisions can result in giving you time back to do the things you love to do. Spending time with your family, travelling the world or just putting your feet up! You’ve decided to hire a housekeeper – but how do you pick an ideal housekeeper? You want to match exactly what your family or property needs.
Read our guide on how to choose the ideal housekeeper.
Families hire housekeepers for any number of reasons. Some hire part time and some hire full time. Some housekeepers are live in and some live out. It can be a common misconception that the role of the housekeeper is a ‘lesser’ job in some way, but it most certainly is not!
Many individuals start looking to hire a housekeeper when work/life demands increase. Often a part time housekeeper can come a few times a week to do the house duties. As life gets busier and work increases the hours of the housekeeper can increased and can lead to full time employment. So either if you’ve spent your life having housekeepers, or indeed looking to improve your life/work balance, these would be our top tips on how to hire the housekeeper for your home.
1. Decide the hours
There are two types of principals, ones who have never had to do any housework in their lives and ones who have had to, but now choose not to. Try to be realistic about the demands of the job and what you need your ideal housekeeper to do.
If you live in a 5 story London townhouse, with only stairs (most of our clients have elevators in their homes!) and you have 3 children, 2 dogs and 7 bedrooms, chances are that your house will need a full time housekeeper. We would expect them to work from 8:30/9am to 5:30/6pm each day, with possible Saturday work. Don’t expect miracles.
If you have high standards then ensure you factor in potential overtime. If you want your home run like a boutique hotel then you’ll need to consider hiring two full time housekeepers. If your housekeeper is worked to the bone, you either have to pay her very well, or hire in additional support.
Many of our clients will hire two ideal housekeepers, or one full time and then a part time assistant. Be realistic and ensure that you establish the hours you need. If you have a two bedroom penthouse apartment and spend most of your time abroad, full time might be not required. Perhaps part time would be more suitable. Or you could hire a housekeeper full time and ask her to do additional duties. An ideal housekeeper will be flexible with your needs and schedules.
Space is precious in London (perhaps second to time!) but most of our clients tend to have space for staff. If you have the space, then seriously consider live in.
By having live in staff you don’t need to worry about tube strikes or traffic. Give your ideal housekeeper a great package (as this will mean longer dedication) and the most important rule – respect their time off. Just because they live in or close to your home doesn’t mean that you can disturb them in the middle of the night.
Try to respect their space and once they’ve clocked off don’t ring their annex door bell or wake them up. It will also make it more expensive as you need to cover the food and provide a competitive package.
An ideal housekeeper will know that even though she lives in, she should respect your space and privacy, and in return you respect hers. Live out on the other hand is much more suitable for part time housekeepers, if the venue doesn’t allow for live in. It means that once they’ve clocked out and left then you don’t have anyone in your space. Space is the key thing.
If you aren’t setup to have an extra person in your home then don’t try to do it. Often if a Housekeeper already has her own home and family then she won’t want to live in, and again this is something to consider during the hiring process.
Too many clients put up with shoddy and low standard housekeeping. Housekeeping is not an easy profession and it should be taken seriously. You are letting a person into your home which will have many valuable items and as such should be treated with utmost respect.
We’ve heard far too many horror stories about cashmere jumpers put in the dryer or marble floors stained with bleach. An ideal housekeeper should be willing to learn and evolve. Of course you’re going to need to tell them how you want the house to run, how often to clean out the fridge and how you like your clothes folded. They shouldn’t need to be told again.
Of course language barriers can make it harder and often our foreign clients can express frustrations at communicating with a housekeeper from a different country than them. If something doesn’t get done how you expect, gently broach the subject with respect and politely explain how you’d like it done. An ideal housekeeper will learn and then get the job done.
On some occasions the housekeepers have started to let things slip. These situations can be difficult as often the housekeeper in question has been with the family for many years. One option is for us to send in a trainer to spruce up their skills and remind them of the passion of their work.
Another option for you is to discuss with them what ways they can improve. Either way remember you are paying for a service and although you may feel emotionally connected to them, the job and skills need to come first. It’s OK to demand more and ask for the job to be done to a high standard.
You may also want to consider a professional training course.
Learn more: What To Expect from Housekeeper Training
Leading on from the previous point, sometimes communication can be challenging. London has a multi-cultural environment. Our clients are from around the world and the Housekeepers are often from neighbouring or far reaching countries. Different native languages can result in difficulties in communication.
Our ideal housekeepers are very insightful and research different cultural approaches. They don’t get offended if there is a clash of cultures. Furthermore they are willing to go the extra mile and adjust according to their principals needs. It goes both ways of course.
Try to learn how to express yourself in a way that your ideal housekeeper understands and be sensitive to them! An ideal housekeeper at the top of her profession should be able to take direction and positive criticism. They should not get defensive but just concede to doing it better next time.
Make sure your ideal housekeeper has the tools to do her job. Listening to what she says helps her to become more efficient. It is well worth investing in better equipment and space for her to do her work.
The easier her life is, the quicker the work will get done to a higher standard. Its not always the most expensive items that are the best. Look to your housekeepers expertise (unless you manufacture irons!)) and she can guide you to buy the best equipment for the job at hand.
Try not to hover or observe her too much when she first starts to work and use your equipment. She may have used different equipment in previous employments and will be nervous and want to make a good impression. Let her get on and do her job with some supervision and then be ready to give feedback later to improve outcomes.
6. Set the Standards
Many clients want to know ‘what are the ideal housekeeper standards?’ and this can be a complex answer. It’s important you try to determine what your own standards are. This can then help clearly direct your new housekeeper what you expect from them.
Our most common requirements for our VIP Housekeepers include cleanliness, orderliness, and sanitation.
A common mistake is to assume the new housekeeper understands your standards. Do you expect your bed linen to be changed daily or weekly? Do you require the fridge to be cleaned out once a week or once a month?
Sit down and outline the standard you require and be ready to give clear direction. We are all only human, so if your housekeeper doesn’t quite hit the mark, sit down and discuss what you want. Clear communication is the key to setting the ideal housekeeper standards in your home.
An amazing CVs on paper can turn out to be lacking in practical application. We’ve seen new housekeepers with hardly any experience show incredible skills and a core understanding of their jobs.
At the very end, it’s important that you like your ideal housekeeper and you have a good dynamic. A top housekeeper will always be discreet and should work in the house without interrupting your schedule!
Take the time to offer them the best package you can afford and in turn you will be rewarded with years of commitment and hard work.
Remember! You should always check that the ideal housekeeper has the full legal right to work in the country of hire. Check your local government guidlines to ensure you stick within the legal requirements.
Thank you for reading! If you think you’d like us to help you hire a perfect Housekeeper then why not get in touch and see how we can help you!