What’s That Smell?

Where has the privacy gone?

Do you ever wonder why corporate bathrooms can seem so standardized and unpleasant? Unlike the extensively designed and well-kept restaurant and hotel restrooms, the movement has not seemed to extend to corporate restrooms. When it comes to corporate offices, more times than not, employees leave these bathrooms feeling uncomfortable and violated by the lack of privacy and dingy appearance. The reason for this is simple; in many cases it is the landlord’s duty to maintain a company’s restrooms and not the tenant’s.

At the end of the day, whose responsibility is it to take care of issues in corporate restrooms?

This is where standardization comes into play. To the landlord’s advantage, it is more cost effective to standardize corporate restrooms. It costs less for upkeep as well as the building of the facilities since standardization provides more routine inspection, purchasing and handling measures. The simple designs also allow easier options for cleaning. The market for corporate fixtures is so standardized that the largest American company that sells these fixtures is name “American Standard”.

In this case, is standardization detrimental to professional work environments or is it beneficial in the end?

Of course the disadvantages of standardization is most directly felt by the employees of the corporation since most of these facilities are purely functional, and do not go above and beyond whatsoever. The standardization does not cater to privacy in these professional environments. Anyone who has used a public restroom can attest to the embarrassment of forced intimacy on a sour stomach. “Not only is your dignity at stake when you visit the toilet in view or earshot of work colleagues, but there can also be a paranoid sense that your visits are being monitored,” states Nick Haslam, who analyses the anxiety that people encounter when using public facilities in his book, Psychology in the Bathroom. It comes at no surprise that the standardization of corporate restrooms have become in many ways resistant to improvements due to many landlord’s wishes to cut costs.

Do you believe there is a real issue at hand or are a few employees simply asking for too much from their corporations?

The worst part about landlords’ decisions to choose the most cost effective approach to corporate facilities is that this may negatively affect employees to the point of them not wanting to continue with the company. Single-occupancy restrooms appear to be the most privacy conscious bathrooms but unfortunately they are by no means the cheapest option.

If corporations and landlords were more mindful of privacy concerns in buildings, how large would the impact be on a professional environment?

In a professional work environment I would appreciate privacy in the restroom in order to maintain professional relationships with co-workers. I would not want my reputation ruined over an incident in the restroom that was caused by forced intimacy of how the facility is built. I would hope that a company would take charge and provide their employees with the privacy needed to keep their dignity.


4 thoughts on “What’s That Smell?

  1. First off, great title and picture. It is an interesting topic; people are always complaining about bathrooms and discussing it within a corporate atmosphere brings a different side of the story. Most people are so busy at work that taking a restroom break is the only chance they get to take a breather. If they aren’t comfortable to relax for a minute when they do so, then the upkeep of the restrooms and policies should probably be reevaluated.

  2. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. The advantages are that the employee would get their privacy and be happier. Disadvantages would be that we might have to wait for bathrooms. Because the current bathrooms have three or more stalls, at least three people can use the bathroom at the same time. Waiting for the bathroom is not fun especially when you really need to use it. Doing the bathroom dance is more embarrassing in front of colleagues than having to listen to what they are talking about. This is just my view, though. I would love to have privacy in the bathroom as well, but there are some disadvantages that I would have to consider.

  3. I agree that standardization definitely has its advantages and disadvantages for both the company and its employees. After reading this post and the article, it got me to think from the perspective of those employees having to deal with privacy issues. I believe that this is a real issue and the employees’ deserve a peace of mind; happy employees means increase productivity in the workplace. As you mentioned, corporations and landlords need keep in mind that respecting the employees should be their top priority rather than trying to be cost effective.I came across an article from WSJ about Bert Jacobs, CEO (Chief Executive Optimist) and co-founder of The Life is Good Company deciding to build a tavern in the office for his employees to keep them satisfied at work. So, why not fix this issue? All in all, I strongly agree that corporate bathrooms should not be standardized because the company is its people.

  4. I believe that corporate restrooms aren’t really a big deal when it comes to a company. A companies main belief is to maximize profits and find efficient ways to do so. A person would go to the bathroom 1-2 times on average a day during a 8 hour work period. There shouldn’t be a worry for the appearance of a bathroom because bathrooms have been the same for years, so why spend extra money to change an aspect of the workplace that wouldn’t have anything to do with the productivity of the associates. People go to the bathroom and sometimes it may not sound pleasant, but oh well that person needs to get over it. They have been in school for twenty something years and bathrooms weren’t private, so I do not believe it will have a change/impact on the workplace environment.

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