Today’s hottest companies are often as notable for their office space as their products. From slides, fire poles and foam pits to gourmet coffee bars, video games and dogs roaming the halls, it’s the workplace areas that usually get a lot of attention.
But what about the most crucial space of all: the washroom? This humble area is the only part of the workplace where everyone from the CEO to the intern goes to visit multiple times a day. Despite that, the bathroom is often neglected by office managers as a space to improve and optimise.
By making the washroom comfortable and clean, organisations can reduce costly illnesses that can sap employee productivity, enhance employee happiness and make a winning impression to customers and visitors in the process. And that’s where we come in.
At Staples, we have a saying: better space leads to better work. This is true even in the WASHSPACE.
According to the World Health Organisation, the average EU employee misses more than 11 days of work a year due to illness, while another study found that the cost of this lost productivity is about 2.5% of European GDP, adding up to billions of Euros per year.
In addition, there has been an increase in presenteeism–the practice of coming to work while sick–with more than half of workers admitting they have gone to work while ill with the flu or other easily communicable illnesses. Not only does this impact the performance of the employee who is sick, but it exposes other employees to viruses that will lead to either additional absences or a continuation of the presenteeism cycle.
What’s worse, people may be spreading illnesses and not even know it. The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces like doorknobs, conference tables and office equipment for up to 72 hours, spreading the virus throughout the office before they even show symptoms.
With a welcoming, well-stocked WASHSPACE, employers can help employees to do their part to stop the spread of viruses in the office. Studies show that handwashing reduces the risk of influenza by up to 50% and colds by 70%. It takes just 45 seconds of effective hand washing with quality soap to kill 99.9% of viruses on hands, while paper towels reduce germs by almost 80%. If an organisation is looking to improve the overall health and well-being of their staff, the WASHSPACE is the first place to start.
Beyond keeping employees healthy, a great WASHSPACE is important to customers and clients. One study found that nearly three-quarters of consumers believe a dirty restroom reflects poor company management, while two-thirds of consumers said a poor restroom lowered their opinion of the company, shows the business doesn’t care about customers, and gives the impression the company is lazy or sloppy.
For all the work and investment companies spend on building their brand and attracting customers, they could be flushing it away if their WASHSPACE isn’t up to a high standard.
Many companies have shifted to more open workspaces, tearing down office doors and cubicles to increase collaboration. As a result, it can be difficult to find a spare moment at work to pause and reflect. The WASHSPACE is perhaps the only spot in the office where an employee can lock a door, gain privacy, and let their mind wander free of interruptions. In this way, today’s WASHSPACE is as necessary for mental health as it is physical hygiene.
Not only that, but the WASHSPACE is a place where work gets done: nearly 40% of people surveyed said they’ve checked and sent emails from the toilet. Smartphones, tablets, and even laptops are devices employees often carry around with them all day. To take advantage of the fact people are bringing their devices with them to the washroom, some companies are installing shelves in the stall and ensuring strong Wi-Fi access.
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