The Strangest Things People Do in Workplace Bathrooms

In about 10 seconds, the words "why," "how" and "no" are going to escape from your lips, and we apologize in advance for that. But those are likely the same words that researchers for SCA, a Swedish global hygiene company, uttered as they compiled results from their 2014 "Hygiene Matters" survey, which asked 13,000 people from 13 countries (including 1,058 people from the U.S.) about their bathroom habits at work.

Some of the findings, according to the SCA press release:

  • A good number need their communications fix in the can: 25 percent of Americans head to the stalls to text, while a slightly lower number (23 percent) go to make a phone call.
  • Some of the more furtive bathroom activities revealed in the survey include smoking (5 percent) and sleeping (5 percent, with more men than women admitting to restroom naptime). We do have to give a slow clap to the 7 percent who manage to exercise in the restroom. And, somehow, eating (8 percent) also found its way onto the list.
  • "The workplace restroom is a personal sanctuary and safe place," as SCA puts it, which led to 10 percent of respondents copping to a good cry there (6 percent of men, 14 percent of women); 23 percent of women head there to "deal with the frustration of everyday work life" (compared to 17 percent of men), while more of the guys (21 percent) "[use] the space to spend a moment alone or get space from colleagues" (only 18 percent of the women do).
  • Our initial repulsion to eating in the lavatory may be derived from the fact that the survey found 10 percent of Americans only "sometimes" wash their hands after taking care of business; 1 percent say they never do. More than 40 percent of the U.S. respondents also say they don't clean their hands at all after getting to work.
  • The good, not-nearly-as-disturbing news: The U.S. leads all countries surveyed in general satisfaction with workplace washrooms (87 percent approve), with 13 percent claiming they'd rather use their employer's bathroom than the one they have at home. China, Italy and Russia are apparently the least thrilled with their bathroom conditions at work.

(We just hope employees at this company can complete their bathroom workout in six minutes or less!)