We spend a third of our lives at work, and most people visit the bathroom at least six or seven times per day. That means it’s impossible to avoid the office bathroom. Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong in office restrooms, from empty toilet paper rolls to unpleasant odors. Keep reading to dig into some of the most common problems employees experience in office bathrooms and learn how to prevent them.
Office bathroom pet peeves
What does your office bathroom say about your business? Whatever that message is, your employees get it several times per day. Some career coaches advise prospective employees to check out the bathroom before they say yes to a job offer; that can help identify a toxic company culture. Empty toilet paper rolls may be a sign colleagues don’t look out for each other, and haphazard cleaning may be a sign that management doesn’t care about employees.
If your bathroom doesn’t reflect the culture you’re striving for, it’s probably time to improve it. Here are some of the most common pet peeves employees complain about when it comes to office bathrooms.
- Empty toilet paper rolls
- Dirt and grime
- Broken or empty paper towel holders
- Empty soap dispensers
- Trash on the floor
- Water on the sink and floors
- Unflushed toilets
- Offensive odors
- Colleagues’ poor restroom etiquette
Transform your office bathroom
Office bathrooms are often ignored. That’s a shame because taking steps to improve employees’ daily experience at work can have positive impacts on a business. Companies in the top 25 percent in employee experience have triple the return on assets and double the return on sales compared to companies in the bottom quarter.
Here’s how to turn your office bathroom into a more functional and attractive space for your employees.
- Make sure everyone can use it comfortably
Even if your office restroom doesn’t need to be ADA accessible (for instance, if it meets certain characteristics that make it exempt), do everything possible to make sure everyone in the office—including visitors—can use your restroom without undue hardship.
- Stock up on toilet paper and paper towels
Order good-quality, two-ply toilet paper in bulk and store it in the supply closet so you never run out. Keep several rolls in every bathroom or stall. Also, have plenty of extra paper towels on hand.
- Provide feminine hygiene products
Eighty-six percent of women have gotten caught off-guard without the menstrual supplies they need. Make sure your employees have access to feminine hygiene products at work. (Depending on the size of your company, it may be cheaper to offer them for free rather than dispense them in a coin-operated machine. The University of Iowa saved $30,000 on administrative expenses when they switched from coin-operated machines to free tampon dispensers.)
- Install a large trash receptacle
You want tissues and paper towels to go in the trash, so make sure your trash receptacle is big enough to hold at least a day’s worth of waste. If you have stalls, install small waste receptacles in each one.
- Pay for regular deep cleaning
Office bathrooms need to be squeaky clean. Your employees will appreciate your cleaning crew’s attention to detail, and chances are fewer viruses will circulate around your office.
- Freshen the air
If the restroom has poor ventilation, install a quality air purifier with an activated charcoal filter to lessen odors. Spray air fresheners are cheaper, but they contain ingredients that may cause headaches and nausea and exacerbate asthma for some.
- Splurge on soap
High-quality hand soap is an inexpensive way to show your employees you care. You don’t need to spring for antibacterial soaps or hand sanitizers; they’re no more effective than regular soap and they contribute to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
- Improve the experience
The basics will take you a long way. If you want to improve your employees’ bathroom experience, consider some extras. A soothing wall color, full-length mirror, plants, and artwork make bathrooms more welcoming.
- Model good bathroom etiquette
Stories about questionable behavior in the office bathroom abound online. One woman felt trapped in her stall as she listened to a group of her colleagues gossip about her. Another man resented having to answer a colleague’s insistent questions about a work email as he did his business. And countless employees have rolled their eyes while a coworker talked on the phone in a nearby stall.
Your employees are adults, so they probably won’t appreciate group reminders about bathroom behavior. But good behavior is contagious, so modeling excellent bathroom etiquette may help. And if you get complaints about a particular person’s behavior, go ahead and share guidelines for good bathroom etiquette with that employee.
By providing well-designed, clean, and well-stocked bathrooms, you’ll improve your employees’ daily experience at work and send them the message that they matter.