What do you do in the bathroom? If you chose the obvious, scatological answer, well, no offense, but you're probably lying to cover up all the weird stuff you're really doing in there.
At least that's what new survey from commercial hygiene product maker SCA suggests. After surveying employees in 13 countries about restroom conditions and their own behavior at their workplace lavatories, it was apparent that actually using a toilet is just one of many activities that goes on behind stall doors.
"Of course, people use [the bathroom] for biological reasons, but they're also using it for reasons you wouldn't expect," said Amy Bellcourt, vice president of communications for SCA. "Talking on the phone, texting, [25 percent] okay, maybe sometimes you expect those things...but also they're using it to eat [eight percent], to cry [10 percent], to exercise [seven percent]. And some people are even using it to sleep [five percent]."
Although SCA didn't ask people why people were, say, following up a round of lavatory squat thrusts by crying themelves to sleep in a stall, but they did make some informed guesses based on the broader data they collected.
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"We live in a highly connected society and I think people are looking for sanctuary, a place to get away from it all. So there's that group of people that really do use it for those private moments to disconnect," she said. "But yet there's that other group of people that are so highly connected, they're never going to put down their devices. So, they're actually bringing those devices right into the restroom with them."
Interestingly, Bellcourt believes that the modern trend of "open floor plan" office space — think lots of cubes, but not a lot of privacy — is behind the growing use of bathrooms for, ahem, non-biological purposes.
Oddly, a quarter of Americans surveyed said they never used the bathroom at their work, the poll also revealed that the U.S. remains dominant in the global arms race for the best workplace bathrooms. Analyzing overall restroom satisfaction, SCA found that the U.S. had the highest approval rating with 87 percent of respondents saying their work bathrooms were "satisfactory" — in fact, 13 percent said they preferred their work restrooms to their own toilet, at home.
Bellcourt says her company designs and manufactures products like bath tissue dispensers, paper towels and soap for commercial-grade bathrooms and conducts these surveys to better understand how people want to interact with bathrooms at their office or public places. Unsurprisingly, most people ranked cleanliness as their highest priority, which might, say, influence the design of future paper towel dispensers. People's behavior is also useful information for SCA's clients, who may want to better accommodate worker's needs.
"Employers are, in some cases, adding showers, adding couches, or adding places to create that private space but also have that sort of 'resting' space," she said.
Ironically, one thing people don't seem to do in the bathroom is actually wash their hands. When asked directly, one in 10 people admitted they only "sometimes" remembered to wash up, and one percent brazenly said they "never" washed.
But someone isn't telling the truth. In separate questions, 87 percent of Americans said they used their workplace bathrooms, but perplexingly 42 percent said they "never" washed their hands during the workday.
So, how do you rate? Be honest.