Did you Know 10% of your Colleagues are Eating in the Bathroom at Work?

Everyone knows a workmate who stands out for all the wrong reasons; they could be bossy, or perhaps they got a little too drunk at the office Christmas party. Now there is another kind of bad co-worker you want to avoid; the unhygienic one.

ICM Unlimited have published new research on behalf of Initial Hygiene, which is a hygiene services business, that shows 10% of people in the workforce eat food in the bathroom. It’s also not the only strange thing going on in the workplace toilets.

The study shows that 40% of people in Australian offices are reading and browsing the internet in the toilet, while a quarter read and reply to their emails, and 17% pore through books, newspapers, and work documents. At least those ones are sort-of working?

One in ten people even admitted that they play Pokémon Go in the work toilet. This all sounds quite surprising when you consider 28% of workers also said that they feel their office bathrooms are just as dirty as the bathrooms of public places such as a bar or a restaurant.

Do you think that there unhygienic things going on in your workplace bathroom? Here are three tips to create a better and healthier work environment.

  1. Encourage your staff to leave their phones behind when using the toilet

While it may sound like a good distraction to bring your phone to the bathroom, if you pick up your phone after wiping but before washing your hands then the phone is covered in germs and bacteria; effectively making washing your hands pointless because you’ll just contaminate them all over again. If you take your smartphone to the toilet then it will almost definitely wind up covered in traces of urine and feces, which will just find their way back on to your hands.

  1. Help your staff to slow down a little

These days offices are just as distracted, over-worked, and short on time as ever. They are also likely to be the reason for much of this unhygienic behavior; such as 49% of staff not washing their hands after finishing their business.

People need to slow down a little and take better care of themselves by getting enough sleep, eating right, and taking breaks away from their desk. This will encourage them to start taking better care of everything else too, instead of just rushing through their day and foregoing healthy habits.

“Staff are less likely to take time away from work when they are sick if they are overworked or undertrained,” says CBT Nuggets IT trainer Keith Barker. This leads to more germs being spread around the office, making everyone else sick. You need to enforce lunch breaks and help your staff slow down in other ways, such as by offering guided meditations.

Ultimately though, it is down to managers. They need to lead by example and create a healthy environment in the office.

  1. Instigate change with the “Hawthorne Effect”

The Hawthorne Effect is a psychological concept that says people will behave differently when they know they are observed. It has been seen time and time again in behavioural studies and it can be used to get your office workers to change their ways.

If the people in your office believe that people are watching them wash their hands after using the bathroom then they are more likely to do it. This was shown in a study performed on office workers across Malaysia, the UK, Australia, Germany, and France. 1,000 of the 5,000 office workers studied were from Australia, so we know it works there.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.