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Your Restrooms Matter

Facility and property managers know their restrooms are important. But it may surprise you to know that office workers look at the restroom with an even more critical eye than you do.

In fact, your restrooms may impact the perception of your entire building and of your management effectiveness in general. The impact of restrooms on the tenant’s perception of management, of the building, and even of their own company, may be significantly underestimated. Are you thinking about it the way your office workers are?

What You Should Know

To a tenant (and to all of us really), the restroom is often more than a place to take care of physical necessities. It can represent a brief getaway—somewhere we can relax, refresh and clear our thoughts. In fact, taking frequent breaks during the day has proven to refresh your focus for increased productivity. This is especially important in light of the increased stresses caused by open office and collaborative workplace trends.

So where do office workers take their breaks? While decompressing in a break room or just relaxing at a coworker’s desk are both popular, a recent study shows that the office restroom is the single most popular place in the office to take a break. And this holds true in office restrooms throughout the world.

We also need to know that we're heading to a clean, hygienic, comfortable and even inviting place to take that much-needed break.

By applying principles of behavior science to the restroom, we've learned how important it is to give visitors a sense of control in order to reduce stress and anxiety. They need to feel that everything is in place, as it should be—that everything is okay.

1,100,000 Opportunities

The typical office worker visits the restroom three to four times per day. For an average-size facility, that equals more than 1.1 million annual opportunities to either impress tenants or open the door for complaints.

"I tend to judge the office building by how well kept the bathrooms are during the course of a day," says one beverage industry manager and office headquarters building tenant in the U.S. If the bathrooms aren’t maintained as the day progresses, then I think building management is not doing a good job and I often call building facilities with a complaint."

Since tenant complaints that stem from the restroom rank among the top three in a large office building, it pays to know why such a small area can be so troublesome.

Tenants Speak Out

Research among U.S. office workers reveals that 71% think an office restroom says a lot about what the facility/building manager. Those surveyed were clear about what they want in their restrooms, what they dont want—and what they wish was there.

For example, faced with a choice of drying methods, 90% of people showed a behavioral preference for paper towels over jet air dryers in the washroom. The Scott® Brand is the most well-known washroom brand in the US.

Office workers have very specific ideas about the amenities they would most like to see in their workplace. They often crave items that would complete their restroom break by helping them feel more in control.

It's something that's important to both employers and building/facility managers. "For me, the level of hygiene I see in an office bathroom has a direct reflection on the facility management, and an indirect reflection on the office tenant," says a leasing executive in an Atlanta office park. "If I don’t feel comfortable using the office bathroom, ultimately I won’t feel fully productive at work."

Getting Gender Specific

While they agree on many things, men and women do have different desires for workplace restrooms. In a recent study, women prefer amenities like facial tissue and hand lotion for rejuvenation and a full-length mirror to readjust for the day, However, controlling restroom odors tops the list for both men and women.

Global Differences

Employees in English-speaking countries, such as the U.S., U.K. and Australia, tend to be more similar while employees in Latin America and China tend to have similar experiences and perceptions when it comes to restrooms.

While concerns with restroom cleanliness are less of a problem in English-speaking countries, nearly half of employees agree they sometimes have concerns. Unpleasant odors and toilet seats that aren't visibly clean are most likely to make users question whether the entire restroom is clean.

Employees in China, Colombia and Brazil are more likely to be dissatisfied with their restrooms and feel they are a reflection of their employers. However, most do not complain because they don't feel comfortable raising concerns to the employer or building manager. Unpleasant odors and issues with dispensers and toilet seats contribute to their dissatisfaction.

The Ultimate Impact

Three important findings regarding the impact of office restrooms:

1. The condition of the office restroom matters. About two-thirds of tenants say an unhygienic restroom lowers their opinion of the facility and indicates that management doesn’t care.

2. Odors communicate. Unpleasant restroom odors are a global issue and have a major impact on employee perceptions of cleanliness.

3. Reflections on you. Nearly three-quarters of American consumers say a bad restroom signals poor management and shows a business doesn’t care. 

It's obvious that office workers value a clean, well-stocked and pleasant restroom environment, making it an important factor in reducing complaints, retaining tenants—and attracting new ones.

By inspiring companies to think "exceptional," Kimberly-Clark Professional* has become a global thought leader for business, providing trusted expertise that elevates the work experience by empowering professionals. Kimberly-Clark Professional* continues its commitment to understanding the wide-ranging impact of the office restroom with innovative research—and with sustainable solutions that create Exceptional Workplaces*.

So how satisfied are your tenants? See how you measure up


1. The Exact Amount of Time You Should Work Every Day, Fact Company, Lisa Evans, 2014
2. Kimberly-Clark Professional* Elevated Office Restroom, Omnibus Survey - Global. January, 2015 
3. Kimberly-Clark Professional* Challenger Omnibus Survey - US. April, 2014 
4. Stressor Controllability Affects Behavior, Nature Neuroscience, 2005
5. Bradley Corporation – Bad Restroom Indicates Poor Management, 2013


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