In Passionate Pursuit Of Privy Productivity

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.

defaultThe 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.

The Shell Bowl

I mentioned a few days ago that I like to bring shells back from our beach vacations and put them in a bowl in my office. Above is the shell bowl, in all its current glory, after the additions from our recent visit to Captiva Island.

I recognize that many of the shells are basic and wouldn’t sell for much, if anything, at a shell store — but no matter! Their value to me isn’t a monetary value, but a memory value. Looking at the shell bowl makes me smile at the thought of great vacations remembered, and you just can’t put a price tag on that.

Doughnuttery

I’m getting ready for a morning presentation and asked that an assortment of doughnuts be provided. Doughnuts both help to assure decent attendance — who doesn’t want a doughnut in the morning? — but also an engaged and alert audience that is dealing with the initial doughnut sugar rush.

It’s important to get to the conference room early, to open the doughnut boxes and let that unique doughnut fragrance fill the room. Once a doughnut is sensed, it’s impossible to resist.

There’s a good assortment here, including my favorite — a cake doughnut with dark chocolate icing. Also a few new doughnut options, like one with crumbled Oreos and another with pretzel sticks.

Bad Waiting

Yesterday Kish and I went out for lunch.  When we were getting ready to place our order, the waitress pulled out an order pad — and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Why?  Because lately I’ve been bedeviled by wait staff who don’t write down what I’ve requested, and my orders have inevitably been screwed up as a result.

It’s kind of maddening, really.  The waiters stand there, listen as I tell them, for example, that I want only a slice of onion on my cheeseburger and specifically say that I don’t want lettuce or tomato or pickles.  They nod reassuringly and then march off to the kitchen, and I groan inwardly, knowing that there is a better than a 50-50 chance that, when the order comes back, I’ll be scraping tomato and lettuce and pickle debris from my cheeseburger bun.  But what’s a patron supposed to do?  Hand the waiter a pen and piece of paper and plead with them to please, please, write down the order so there’s hope it will be correctly prepared and delivered . . . and thereby look like a jerk?  Or wait until the order comes back and pleasantly point out that it’s wrong, so that the waiter has to trot back to the kitchen and bring out a new, correct order — and thereby further delay the meal?  Or just accept that the order is wrong, eat it anyway so you’re not waiting even longer, and grumble at the injustice of it all?

Why, exactly, has it the no-write-down approach swept through the waiting world like a cold winter wind?  Do waiters think that not writing down the order reflects their professionalism, or that we’ll be impressed at their memory capabilities and give them a bigger tip?  Don’t they realize that, when most patrons see that the waiter or waitress isn’t writing down the order, their hopes for a pleasant meal take a tumble?

The waiting world works for tips, so here’s one:  write it down, already!

 

Old Bag, New Bag

We’ve got a retirement to commemorate in the Webner household today. Last night Kish surprised me with a bright, shiny, brand-new TUMI satchel. As a result, my old shoulder bag will be heading off to the glorious land of work bag retirement.

I’m sorry to see the old bag go. It’s been my trusted travel companion, work or play, for at least 25 years — and probably more like 30 years. It came to our household as part of a luggage set we got long ago. All of the other components of the set are long gone, but the little black satchel has steadfastly continued to provide faithful service. It’s been overfilled to the point of bursting, hurled onto passenger side car seats, thrust into the carry-on spaces of airplanes large and small, irradiated at countless TSA checkpoints, dropped fully loaded onto floors and tables, and lugged through rain, sleet, smog and snow, without problem or complaint. In short, it’s never let me down. You can’t say that about many people or things.

And yet . . . it’s time. All of the zippers are broken, the handles are frayed, I’ve had to replaced the shoulder strap multiple times, and the bag itself has holes. This reliable black satchel is breaking down and deserves some rest.

Moving to a new bag will be an adjustment. With the old black satchel, I knew where everything would go. Boarding passes in the side pocket, pen and chargers and power cords in the small storage pocket, laptop and papers and notebooks and folders in the big middle space, and books slipped into the side sleeve. With the new bag, I’ll have to do some experimentation to figure out where everything should go.

Farewell, black satchel! The office won’t be quite the same without you!