Do modern workers spend too much time in the bathroom, causing the businesses that employ them to suffer decreased productivity? A company in the United Kingdom is making that claim and has developed a new toilet to combat the alleged problem — which it says is getting an enthusiastic reception from American companies that may leave the commode creators feeling flushed with success.
The company, StandardToilet, asserts that workers spend 25 percent more time in the office bathroom than is strictly necessary, causing employers to experience missed employee time on the job and a hit to the bottom line as a result. It’s not entirely clear what study, if any, substantiates the 25 percent figure, and it sure seems like determining precisely how much time people really need to take care of business in the bathroom would be extremely difficult. In any case, the theory articulated by the trade group the British Toilet Association is that employees are spending more time on the seat because they aren’t just performing essential bodily functions, but also are checking social media, sending texts, visiting news websites, and otherwise multi-tasking on their personal affairs in there. Apparently it’s just another way that the smartphone has affected life as we know it.
StandardToilet’s brainchild is a toilet with a seat that has a 13 percent downward slope, causing employees to need to use their legs to firmly brace themselves against the risk of sliding off and thereby making it uncomfortable to use the toilet seat as a perch for extended bathroom breaks to stay in touch with whatever’s trending on Twitter. The tilt is supposed to cause leg strain after five minutes, incentivizing employees to wrap up their use promptly. And it’s not just about businesses, either: StandardToilet hopes to market the new toilets to roadside rest stops and public restrooms where users might be tempted to linger and clog up the efficient use of the facilities. Incidentally, the company also claims that the new design “helps in reduction of risk in swollen hemorrhoids,” which certainly is a worthy goal — you might call it goal number two — as well.
Are employers concerned about extended bathroom breaks to the point where they will install new toilets to replace old ones that are working perfectly well? The next time you’re using the facilities outside of your home, you might want to check the slope before you sit down and start liking Facebook posts.