I travel quite a bit. As such, I have a membership to my preferred airline’s lounge. It provides a nice quiet space away from the blaring security announcements and inane airport CNN. The airline has recently spent a lot of money renovating the lounge network to give it a “fresh” look-and-feel. I think it looks sort of tacky, but the one thing they got right happened in the bathrooms.
- They’re noisy. That is to say, there’s an exhaust fan that is just the right amount of white noise.
- The urinals have an appropriately sized divider between them
- The stalls are actually little rooms. Floor to ceiling walls, a door that closes.
- The sinks are fashionable, have towels, and hand lotion.
It’s really quite nice. So, why do most employee bathrooms look like a prison?
I actually interviewed at a well-known, highly funded (tens of millions) tech company here in NYC and visited the restroom. It was dead quiet. The stalls faced the sink and had large gaps between the door and frame, so when you washed your hands and looked in the mirror, you could see right into the embarrassed eyes of the person sitting there.
I casually mentioned how quiet the bathroom was to one of the interviewing engineers and he said “Oh yeah, it’s terrible. No one uses it unless they have to. I go home to use the bathroom, other people use the coffee shop downstairs.”
Companies: it’s not hard to make humane bathrooms that don’t stress people out. Take care of your coworkers by providing reasonable accommodations. I didn’t take the job at that company for a number of reasons; the terrible bathrooms was one of them.