back to article Want to know what an organisation is really like? Visit the restroom

I like to hang out in company toilets. That's not to say I linger long after the shake-off – I'm no washroom loiterer – but I do enjoy the visit. It's because I am curious. As an itinerant freelancer, my work takes me to a variety of tech-savvy business premises. And while small companies each have their own style of office …

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: instructions

      At my office, they replaced most of the toilets with water saving flushes, but rather than just using less water per flush, you have to hold the button in for it to keep flushing, and then release once the bowl is clear.

      Part of the issue being visitors tend not to realise this, so just press and walk away, and other people simply don't care, so flush a little and wander off.

      We now get regular blockages in the building, that need someone to come out and unblock. We suspect the reduction in flushing water, is resulting in matter being left stuck mid journey on it's way out of the building!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: instructions

        "We now get regular blockages in the building, that need someone to come out and unblock."

        Two new towns in England were designed to share the same waste water treatment plant. It was in one of the towns - so the other was connected by a pipeline of many miles. During a dry period in the 1970s they had to start flushing the pipe with fresh water as there wasn't enough flow to meet the design specs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: instructions

          A few years ago one of my neighbours ended up with a blockage in the sewers that were shared between the house. it was coming up through the drains in a couple of the gardens including mine, and as this was a health hazard, the local council came out for a look, and managed to get it unblocked (turned out a family further up the street were flushing disposable nappies down the toilet!).

          I had a bit of a chat with the man from the council, and turns out they were really busy all the time now with un blocking regular drains, that had nothing in them other than what you'd expect (i.e. no nappies this time).

          The primary reason he gave was that most of the sewerage infrastructure (most of which is quote old now) was designed to have an expected amount of water flowing in order to keep it clear. With the advent of metered water supplies, and water saving toilets, there was no longer enough water going through the system to keep things moving, especially in dry spells, so no rain water either.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: instructions

            apparently there is also an odd effect with the slope of the pipes too: if they are shallowly sloped then the water can (usually) push/float "everything else" along happily, if they are steep enough (e.g. >40deg or so) then everything can slide/fall down. But there is a surprisingly big range of angles where the liquid will flow but "everything else" will just sort of sit there - hence when you see exposed drain/foul pipes on the wall of an old building they are either nearly flat or >45 deg or more...

          2. onefang Silver badge

            Re: instructions

            "(turned out a family further up the street were flushing disposable nappies down the toilet!"

            I guess that's better than flushing entire babies as mentioned in the article. You gotta unwrap them first before disposing of them.

  1. Johnny Canuck

    The best

    office washroom I ever used was at a headhunter's office. They shared the facilities with 3 or 4 other businesses. Marble everywhere, beautiful fixtures, large stalls, spotless surfaces, soft TP and the paper towels had the texture of real cloth. I used to love going there to fix something just so I could use the washroom.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accurate analysis from our esteemed author as always!

    I once visited an office lav with awful hands-free robot soap dispensers. When approached, these small gold-plated protuberances would give an excited little whirr and then deliver a short, forceful squirt of white goo from the end, shooting it a surprising distance. Unfortunately these suggestive devices suffered from what I can only describe as an embarrassing problem - of always delivering their sticky ejecta far earlier than wanted, often onto an unwary visitor's clothes before a hand even got near them.

    Worse, this was in a very straight-laced place where suggestive humour seemed not to exist - so the awful, embarrassing hilarity of the situation was completely lost on the staff there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Come again?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Come again?

        Or are you just breathing hard?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, this!

    "impossibly complicated video conferencing system that no one knows how to use, least of all the IT department that had lobbied strongly against its purchase in the first place."

    So, so much.

    But, also, everything else as well. top marks!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes, this!

      We have the same sort of set up.

      Very large flat panel TV on the wall, two of them in the boardroom. All so old they still have scart and VGA, but no HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort, and run at some odd resolution (less than 720p).

      Then a camera that can be controlled from the other end of the call (pan, tilt, zoom). Only works between our various offices (UK, USA, India, Asia etc). And has such bad lag, that conversations are almost impossible.

      I think in the last 10 years or so I've been there, I've seen it used maybe 3 times.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, this!

        Still better than those places that have a "smart" TV where there's no cable (that would be too easy) but instead you have to boot into Windows and install some malware which will duplicate your screen, probably unencrypted, onto the TV.

        Ban it.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Clickshare?

          Hates it.

          It's cheaper and better to run a VGA and HDMI and have done with it.

          For some reason the really thin laptops (cough Apple/Surface) don't have either, but anyone witg a thin laptop isnused to carrying a dozen hugely bulky adapters anyway.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I nver undeerstood why people who look normal turn into nasty troglodytes...

    ... as soon as they enter a common restroom. Acts that would be unacceptable in their own houses - and would make them exiled by mothers or partners - become the norm. Yes, the poor janitors have to put signage - unluckily useless - everywhere, because cleaning that mess must really be disgusting, and I really pity them victims of human incivility.

    That said, I hope you'll never visit our company site. We're an aerospace company, but the toilet could be one of the meanest and miser company you could find. Few stalls, and those broken take months to be repaired. Once someone put a "happy anniversary" signage on a stall that wasn't repaired for a whole year. One still miss a toilet seat that was broken years ago. One of the two hand dryers was never repaired too, but the availability of paper towels is limited (also because many people use at least four to dry a single finger).

    Still, they installed "design" sinks, stylish single columns ones with no place to lay, say, toothpaste or contact lens bottle if you need it. The tap is mounted high above, so you get a stylish column of water too - as long as the diffuser head work...

    Yes, you're right. People should also inspect toilets when offered a job. It will tell a lot about how a company deal with people.

    1. RayG

      Re: I nver undeerstood why people who look normal turn into nasty troglodytes...

      "We're an aerospace company, but the toilet could be one of the meanest and miser company you could find." ...you're Boeing or Airbus? Perhaps this is a form of in-house testing of the customer experience?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re aerospace

        Me also. In our area, 3 cubicles, 6 sinks, one asthmatic drier.

        For about 75 blokes. 5 women share the other bathroom which I presume is the same.

        Toilets are child sized so even with my stubby sawn-off, if you sit far enough back to avoid glansing the porcelain, you'll be shitting on the back rim. Most chaps don't seem to use the brush.

        Other facilities are available but so far away one has to plan one's journey. Its horrible.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re aerospace

          The only mens toilet for a trading floor at a top tier US bank in London had 3 cubicles for about 300 blokes. At first I thought they were too highly focused to need to crap. Later I came to realize they were powered by Bolivian Marching Powder and not by food.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re aerospace

          " Most chaps don't seem to use the brush."

          I tried to use the brush once. It was way too scratchy for my comfort.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Re aerospace

            Using a communal lavatory & a shared brush was a Roman thing.

            1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
              Boffin

              "...a shared brush was a Roman thing"

              That was a sponge on a stick.

              Also where the phrase "Getting the wrong end of the stick" comes from.

    2. Noonoot

      Re: I nver undeerstood why people who look normal turn into nasty troglodytes...

      The state of the toilets is not an indication necessarily that people don't belong to the rest of us civilised peeps, but rather the company they work for is shit and treats them like shit. Hence, employees give back what they get.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "but rather the company they work for is shit and treats them like shit "

        Unluckily, it means you're treating your colleagues as shit.

    3. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: I nver undeerstood why people who look normal turn into nasty troglodytes...

      Upvoted, but...questioning "toothpaste".

      What's wrong with the standard morning after breakfast and night time before bed?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Upvoted, but...questioning "toothpaste".

        Many like to use it after lunch also, depending on what you eat.

        Many dentists say so also, maybe paid to increase toothpaste sales ;-)

  5. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Close call

    The consumables include not just soap but a choice of two types of the stuff (clear and opaque), plus three alternatives of hand cream, soft tissues, face wipes and lavender-infused linen towels to be disposed of in a rustic wicker basket under a sink big enough for me to climb into.

    I think you must have stepped into the Ladies by mistake.

  6. Chris King Silver badge

    "I half expected to see a whispering, waistcoated gentleman by the door offering to scent me with a range of aftershaves on my way out."

    I was reminded of the toilet scene in one of The IT Crowd episodes...

    "I just paid a pound not to go to the toilet"

    I usually find that the most pretentious companies have the fanciest toilets. Especially in buildings specifically designed for "customer engagement", i.e. "the punters won't seem so sore about that last price hike because they had a lovely time here".

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      I was reminded of the toilet scene in one of The IT Crowd episodes...

      Pah; nothing like as traumatic as what happened to me >25 years ago when I worked for <never mind>...

      Nature called, so I took myself off to the Gents and, er, locked myself in. It is probable that the performance was accompanied by the usual sound and other effects.

      I was mortified when I emerged to find a lady cleaning the place; my discombobulation was compounded by my boss thinking the whole thing was very funny.

      Post Traumatic Shit Disorder set in immediately.

      1. Nick Pettefar

        So it was OK for innocent men and boys to hear your noises but not the experienced and hardened toilet cleaner?

        Do you have a Men Only toilet at home?

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Do you have a Men Only toilet at home?

          No, which means I can't even get away with leaving the seat up. That abomination causes more trouble than anything physiological.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The simple answer to the seat down request is to say you're quite happy to leave the seat down and piss all over it.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              I still dont understand why women want the toilet seat down - if its up it means it wasnt pissed on.

      2. Why Not?

        #PeeTo

        It happened to me about 30 years ago, I was pointing Percy at the porcelain in Schipol Airport after a longish journey and this rather attractive blonde lady reached across me to polish the wall above the urinal then flashed me a huge smile.

        One of those moments that is probably subconsciously saved for when my life flashes before my eyes,

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: #PeeTo

          @whynot:

          If I see that trending on the TwitterGraph I'm gonna have to spend the rest of May24 downing beer.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I was mortified when I emerged to find a lady cleaning the place"

        Try working in Paris for a bit. I've had a female cleaner cleaning the urinal next to the one I was using.

  7. tiggity Silver badge

    deja vu (CBA with fancy accents)

    As the article mentioned it

    Is this article a padding out of some of the musings part way through this article?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/28/need_the_toilet_watch_a_video_ad_about_erectile_dysfunction_while_youre_hanging_about/

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the sake of my own sanity I stopped counting the number of people that would leave the toilet without washing their hands... I'm glad that one of our admin people gets some disenfecant around to use.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      That's fine, until some decides to cut budgets and makes this BYOD (Bring Your Own Disinfectant).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One of my colleagues is well know for not washing his hands, irrespective of whet he's done, or how long he's been in there.

      He's known as the Do Not Shake Hands with guy!

      And if he ever offers you a biscuit/sweet/crisp, just say NO!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A guy I used to sit next to didn't wash his hands. Occasionally he would ask me to help out with something on his PC and I would refuse to touch his keyboard.

        The usual response to this from such vile people is "I didn't piss on them". Yeah, but you touched your filthy germ-infested dick, didn't you?

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      As long as those doing that don't 1) work in the cafeteria 2) don't work around me 3) don't offer to shake hands. I figure it'll be their problem when the dysentery hits. But then decades ago, I spent time in the bush with the troops and no proper sanitary facilities other than a hole in the ground.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM

    The IBM Farnborough upstairs ones looked like a bathroom from a townie nightlclucb at 1:30am. So bad, I mentioned it to facilities. Great signs commenting on requesting people not put nasal deposits on the wall, etc.

    1. Noonoot

      Re: IBM

      Why is it that people have to wipe bogies and shit on the walls - the answer is in my other comment - about why employees do such things. Obviously IBM is low down on the list of the "respected companies " rankings.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM

        Wasn't upstairs at Farnborough all MoD? If so, that would explain it I expect.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop....

    ...they are not restrooms, they are not bathrooms, they are not washrooms.

    They are toilets, bogs, shitters or crappers.

    I need a vacation to over this outrage.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Stop....

      Restroom, bathroom and washroom are Americanisms, I still call them a bog or a khazi.

      An old mate in the building trade always referred to toilets as ' The log lounge'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stop....

        "Restroom, bathroom and washroom are Americanisms, [...]"

        On a day trip to China we disembarked from the Pearl River hydrofoil - and two middle-aged American ladies asked for the "comfort stop". The guide pointed them down a path. My friend followed them - having lived in China she was amused by the ladies' expressions when they saw the row of cubicles with very low separating walls.

        My Finnish girlfriend's family weekend cottage on a Baltic island had a two-seater "dry" toilet in a shed. She and her friend used to have long conversations there. Her father was CEO of a large company and an ex-government minister.

        Friends in England bought a redundant farm house in the 1960s and the toilet there was a two-seater outside privy. On the slope alongside it was a large mound of fire ashes - mingled with empty Camp coffee bottles.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stop....

          The French call them the pisserie or craperie.

          Or at least I do when I'm in France.

          1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

            Re: The French call them the pisserie or craperie.

            Les chiottes

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The French call them the pisserie or craperie.

              Or 'les gogues'

          2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Stop....

            The French call them the pisserie or craperie.

            Or at least I do when I'm in France.

            Just as long as you don't misread the sign to a crêperie

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