Our behavior in the workplace impacts our personal brand and career. We must display good manners at any time. Restroom time is no exception. Follow workplace bathroom etiquette to avoid embarrassment. Be an exemplar employee.
What workplace bathroom etiquette is
Workplace bathroom etiquette is the set of rules to keep appropriate behavior in a restroom at work. Such rules include:
- The hygiene rules.
- How to respect your coworkers.
- The behaviors to avoid in a workplace bathroom.
As an employee, follow workplace bathroom etiquette to respect hygiene rules, politely deal with your coworkers, and avoid any embarrassments.
As a manager or employer, promote workplace bathroom etiquette in your team to ensure good hygiene at work and avoid conflicts between team members.
Workplace bathroom etiquette rules
1) Limit your use of the workplace bathroom
You do not want to be remembered as the one always in the restroom. Try your best to limit your time in the bathroom.
Limit your visits. Stay as short as possible. Avoid peak hours, such as after lunchtime.
It is OK to refresh your makeup or brush your teeth. However, it is best to avoid more elaborate tasks, such as flossing or shaving.
Limit conversation with coworkers. You can say hello and some small talk. Do not chat in the bathroom.
No phone calls. No email or Internet browsing.
2) Do not bring your belongings to the workplace bathroom
Bring to the toilet only what is strictly necessary.
Leave your laptop or other business equipment out. Avoid bringing any other belonging, such as documents or stationery.
Female employees should avoid bringing their bags to the restroom. Consider using a small toiletry bag instead.
Do not bring any food or beverage to the restroom. First and foremost, bringing food into a bathroom is against hygiene rules. Furthermore, you risk spilling food or beverage and soiling the restroom.
3) Be considerate when the bathroom is occupied
Knock gently if the toilet door is closed. Do not try to open it. Do not peep under the doors. Avoid knocking endlessly.
If the toilet is occupied, it is best to leave. Come back later. Do not stay outside, waiting for the person to leave. It would embarrass the person.
If you are in the bathroom and someone knocks, say a simple “occupied” or “sorry”.
4) Check the restroom when you enter
Avoid awkward situations. When you enter the bathroom, check that everything is in order.
Lock the door carefully. Never leave the toilet door open.
Make sure that there is enough toilet paper. Wipe the toilet seat before seating. Male employees should lift the toilet seat beforehand.
5) Do not dispose of any items in the WC
Never dispose of any items in the WC. Limit the amount of toilet paper to avoid clogging. Never dispose of feminine care items in the WC.
To avoid disposing of items in the WC, the employer must place a small trash bin in every toilet stall. If trash bins are not available, request your employer to provide them.
6) Exit the bathroom with grace
In an era of gender equality, leaving the toilet seat up is no longer a major offense. However, the best etiquette is to rest the toilet seat and the cover down. Wipe the seat before leaving.
Always flush. Flush more than once if necessary. Open the restroom door only after the flush is over.
Never show your private parts or underwear. Leave the toilet stall in perfect order.
7) Leave the restroom as you found it
Never leave a mess behind. It can ruin your personal brand.
Females should always sit on the toilet seat. Males should always stand close to the WC to avoid dripping. If the toilet stall is in poor hygiene conditions, go to another one if available and call the janitors. Do not make the conditions of the toilet stall worse.
Do not smoke inside the bathroom.
Call the janitors if anything is not right. Such as the flush not working, the WC being clogged, or wet patches on the floor. Otherwise, people may think you are responsible for the mess.
8) Wash your hands
Always wash your hands before leaving the bathroom. First, germs are bad enough. Furthermore, poor hygiene risks ruining your personal brand.
Keep the water running only when necessary. Turn the taps off before you leave. Avoid splashing water around and on the mirrors. Do not make a mess with soap.
Dry your hands thoroughly. Never leave the bathroom with wet hands. Do not touch the door handles with wet hands.
Workplace bathroom etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst workplace bathroom etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Not washing your hands before leaving.
- 8/10. Spending too much time in the workplace bathroom.
- 8/10. Embarrassing others.
- 8/10. Leaving the restroom in a messy state.
- 8/10. Not flushing.
- 7/10. Disposing of items in the WC.
- How to wash your hands: cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control)
- Promoting safe hygiene practices in public restrooms: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
How can I reinforce workplace bathroom etiquette? The best way to reinforce bathroom rules is to increase awareness. Place signs in the restroom. Share this page with your team and with new hires. High awareness leads to high compliance. Which leads to high peer pressure. Which leads to even higher compliance.