According to a national hand-washing survey, 83% of U.S. workers believe that a clean workplace restroom means that the company values its employees. Indeed, being provided with a comfortable restroom will make you feel respected. On the contrary, a dirty and ill-maintained workplace restroom indicates that your employer doesn’t care about hygiene and sanitation.
But what if it’s an employee who has no regard for hygiene and sanitation? Eighteen employees shared their “Gross Office Bathroom Stories” on Buzzfeed in 2019, and each story will make you recoil. Though we can’t validate those anonymously posted accounts, it’s unlikely for them to be made up. All of us have lived at least one restroom horror story or know someone who has. You would think bathroom etiquette is common sense, but apparently, not everyone grew up being hygienic in the toilet.
If bathroom horror stories often happen in your workplace, you can’t treat that as a petty misdemeanor. In fact, one incident should be enough to pin your attention. An employee who makes a mess in your restroom can increase your upkeep costs and disrupt productivity. Not to mention cause gossip to roll around.
Your office restroom is more important in managing your business than you think. Here are the common hygiene issues to address immediately and how to avoid them:
1. Employees Who Don’t Wash Their Hands
Most of us didn’t even know how to properly wash our hands until the COVID-19 pandemic happened. According to the CDC, we must wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. And we shouldn’t just lather the soap mindlessly. Rather, we should thoroughly scrub our hands with the soap, humming to the “Happy Birthday” song two times to ensure that the scrubbing will last for 20 seconds.
But old habits die hard. Now that many Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, some of your employees may drop their guard and stop washing their hands after using the restroom. That can cause germs and bacteria to spread all over your office, and eventually, a disease outbreak. The toilet flushes, faucet handles, stall door handles, and bathroom door handles are the most exposed. Next would be the keyboards and the shared office equipment.
Create a memo about proper hand-washing, and put up reminders in the restrooms. Your employees will follow them or not at their discretion, but either way, you’ve done your part, and your employees will be accountable for their own actions.
2. Lack of Specific Plumbing Fixtures
The bidet is becoming increasingly popular in U.S. households. But offices may not have them yet. If you have employees using bidets at home, they may lament the lack of it in your office restroom. A toilet paper, after all, can’t clean as thoroughly as water. Plus, a messy employee may throw away their used toilet paper on the floor. But if most of your employees don’t use a bidet, what use will installing them in your bathroom stalls have?
To allow bidet-users their comforts, recommend a portable bidet to them. You may even give it as a gift if you’re feeling generous and you have a close relationship. A portable bidet cleans as effectively as a regular bidet and helps you feel safer in any restroom outside your home. Plus, it won’t affect your office’s water and maintenance costs because it won’t suffer leaks.
3. Employees Leaving their Waste Exposed
For some mysterious reason, a person may leave their waste exposed in the toilet, even if there’s a fully functioning flush. This behavior might stem from their home, where they weren’t taught to clean up after themselves. But even so, that doesn’t excuse their mess.
Worse, some employees even leave their waste on the floor. They will never admit to doing it, which is a sign that they’re aware of its impropriety. To stop such a thing from happening again, consider giving out incentives to your whole organization if they keep the restrooms clean for an entire month, for example. Establish hygiene and sanitation standards, from hand-washing to using the trash bins properly. This can encourage your employees to be mindful and attentive of others when they use the restroom.
4. Objects Being Flushed Down the Toilets
Some employees may flush leftover food, packaging waste, and other random objects down the toilet. That will cause a clog and render the toilet out of order. Wipes (including “flushable” types), paper towels and tissues, cotton balls, and feminine hygiene products shouldn’t be flushed down as well. Inform your employees about this, and put up reminders in each bathroom stall. Ensure that you have enough bins in your office to discourage everyone from using the toilet as a trash can.
Each employee may have had a different upbringing, but that doesn’t mean they can disrespect your office bathroom rules. Remind them that in the office, they should observe the behavior and etiquette of a professional. And keeping the restroom clean is only the bare minimum of that.