For those of us not homeworking, the workplace can sometimes be a rather challenging place, especially when sharing toilet facilities. If your colleagues aren’t maintaining hygiene standards, how do you address this with them?
Whilst COVID-19 has meant many of us are now experiencing all the benefits (and at least some disadvantages) of working from home, some commentators have suggested that the traditional office has had its day. Whilst there may be some truth in this, the reality is that many companies and organisations prefer to have their workers in one place, promoting face-to-face interaction and coordinated thinking. In the post Coronavirus world, some of us will go back to office working. And, for those of us who've enjoyed all the comforts of our home bathroom for over a year, sharing bathrooms again may come as quite a shock!
One of the hardest conversations anyone can have in work is about bathroom etiquette and cleanliness. Even if everyone is aware there is a problem it is often left until there is no other option to finally speak up and address the situation. In many respects, it’s understandable, as there are personal boundaries that are difficult to bridge in a work environment. So how do you address bathroom etiquette in the workplace? We offer a few of our own suggestions below.
Consider the scale of the issue
While it can be extremely annoying to walk into a dirty bathroom, take a step back to consider what kind of action it requires. If it has only occurred on the odd occasion due to there being no cleaners on site, or if a staff member fell ill with a wobbly tummy, it may not be such a big problem.
However, if it is something that is happening far too often, then a group email (for the immediate people who use the bathroom) is the next best step. Avoid giving explicit instructions on what to do while in the bathroom as people rarely respond well to that. Instead, talk about the specific cleanliness issue and that everyone must play their part in keeping the bathroom clean for each other.
Take a careful approach
As annoyed and frustrated as you may be, sensitivity is needed when addressing hygiene in the workplace. The reason for the cleanliness issue is probably widely known by everyone, but putting a public spotlight on the person(s) will be very embarrassing. There could be any number of medical reasons that affect their toilet usage, so bear this in mind. Focusing on individuals could also be deemed as discriminatory and leave yourself or the company open to unneeded disciplinary or even legal complications.
Providing easily accessible wash basins with non-touch taps is a great way to encourage hygiene in the workplace
Keep it general
No-one wants to use a dirty bathroom, including the person(s) responsible for regularly causing a mess in the workplace. Often, all it takes is a simple reminder to treat the office toilet as you would do your own home and things will improve.
In the email, you can also include the general cleanliness of the work area and how everyone needs to be involved. If you think addressing the bathroom issue directly is too obvious, or might not inspire the required response, focus on the overall condition of the office. Mention the office fridge and kitchen area, and how it is everyone’s responsibility to clean up spills, throw away their rubbish and keep bathroom areas clean.
Use clear bathroom signage
Not everyone will be comfortable sending round an email, so as an alternative, adding new bathroom signage can serve as a subtle but direct reminder. Avoid the snarky, joke-style signs that you sometimes see pop-up on social media, and instead use positive language that encourages people using the space to think about their responsibilities to fellow staff. Toilet paper isn’t the best cleaning tool, so it might also be a good idea to leave things like air fresheners and thicker paper towels to help people clean or cover up any tricky situations.
Waterless urinals can help save your business money, whilst maintaining good hygiene standards
Commercial bathrooms: ideas and advice
If you’re a business owner or workplace manager, finding inspiration and advice for commercial bathrooms can be a real struggle. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. At Victoria Plum, we’ve got plenty of great ideas for workplace toilets and bathroom facilities, plus a whole library of expert resources, including in-depth information on urinals, a step-by-step installation guide for toilet cubicles and answers to frequently asked questions.
Shop commercial bathrooms
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