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Colleague with Bad Bathroom Habits in the Office

The trend towards open space offices has created a whole plethora of problems for people forced to work in a busy and noisy environment. Sharing an office can be tough. But something that doesn’t get mentioned often is the problem of sharing a work bathroom. Having a group of people all share the same toilet space can be a bit of a nightmare, particularly if one of those people doesn’t have the best bathroom habits in the world. From not flushing, to disgusting (and far from sweet smelling) messes, what should you do if one of your colleagues isn’t being as hygienic as they should be? It’s a delicate situation, but with the right handling, you might just be able to share your bathroom without holding your breath every time you go inside

Make Sure the Bathroom is Well Equipped
There should be a toilet brush, plenty of toilet paper and an air freshener readily available. Plus, a good stock of paper towels, hand soap and sanitizer. If you don’t have the right equipment in your bathroom, it’s pointless expecting anyone to clean up after themselves, so don’t leave these items on the cleaner’s cart. A well-stocked bathroom will have everything necessary to clean up and deodorise messes.

Provide Instructions
Passive aggressive though it may seem, having clear signs posted around the bathroom instructing employees to flush, spray air freshener, clean up after themselves and wash their hands can go a long way to solving bad hygiene problems. What seems like common sense and practical behaviour to you might not necessarily seem that way to someone else, so make your expectations clear by posting them.

Shame, but Don’t Name
If general instructional posters aren’t quite cutting it, then make things a little more personal. A sign that says “please flush the toilet” is pretty generic, a sign that says “it has been noted that someone is not flushing” is likely to be taken a little more seriously. You shouldn’t name names, even if you’re sure about who the culprit is. However, making signs a little more personal may be just the kick that someone needs to realise that they’ve been noticed and that they’d better start cleaning up their act (and the bathroom too).

Take it to the Top
If none of the above strategies work, then you’re going to need to get serious, and report things to your manager. It might seem petty, but everyone has the right to work in a clean and comfortable environment, and your manager knows this. Should you be unfortunate enough to be the manager in question, then you’re going to need to discuss the issue in person with the offender. Be clear about the problem, a direct approach is best, and be clear about the fact that other employees are being bothered by this behaviour. Hopefully, a brief discussion should cure the problem. However, should it not, the issue should then be taken up with HR in the same way that any other inappropriate office behaviour is.

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