The journey from courtship to marriage, cultural superstitions bordering on absurdity and the symbolic fight for a personal toilet - while each of these can be made into separate stories, in this instance they combine to form the plotline of one of the biggest Bollywood releases of 2017 - Toilet: A Love Story. The central theme of the film addresses the criticality of good sanitation. The storyline suggests, and rightly so, that sanitation in India suffers not only from a lack of infrastructure, but is also worsened by a culture that prefers defecating in the open.
Contrary to popular opinion, poor sanitation and open defecation is not just a “rural” problem. According to the WaterAid 2016 report, India tops the list of countries having the greatest number of urban dwellers living without sanitation solutions. This distressing statistic brings to the fore yet another facet of sanitation issues – workplace sanitation.
To commemorate World Toilet Day, UN-Water developed the WASH@Work campaign to generate awareness about the need for access to water, sanitation and hygiene for better health and productivity at the workplace. Its WASH@Work toolkit has put together guidelines to ensure safe, clean and healthy workplaces. This emphasis on workplace sanitation is important since it often slips under the radar when sanitation at large is discussed.
The sanitary conditions of workplace washrooms are a bigger issue than we think
The working population of the country deserves a safe and healthy workplace. The risks associated with bad hygiene conditions range from illnesses and contagious viruses to reduced productivity. Despite these repercussions, workplace toilets have not received the necessary attention and action. An example of this neglect is that while the number of women entering the workforce increases, there is a troubling shortage of toilet facilities to match the number of women employees.
Having recognised the issue of accessibility and cleanliness of workplace toilets in the government sector, the Swachh Bharat initiative has drafted a set of standard operating procedures to maintain a level of cleanliness and sanitation in government buildings. The SOP includes self-evaluation and gap assessment procedures, proper infrastructure set-up, waste management infrastructure, manpower and cleaning practices for Swachh Offices.
Private organisations need to similarly do more for washroom hygiene and satisfaction. A typical office worker visits the washroom three to four times a day, as compared to an office lobby which is visited twice a day. Inadequate number of urinals, lack of restrooms for women and unhygienic conditions often lead to distress that can hamper employee productivity. Besides its functional requirements, a washroom is often used as a private space where employees take breaks and refresh themselves. A survey by United Minds, across 13 countries (India not included) showed that around half of the respondents send messages or talk on their phones in the washroom while 6% send emails, making washrooms an extension of the workplace. It is abundantly clear that the washroom experience is significant in the overall workplace experience, and critical to provide the feeling of care and comfort to employees. Oddly, most organisations and buildings spend much more on office receptions, lobbies and cafes than on the maintenance of its toilets.
How to make workplace washrooms better
Due to the lack of importance given to washrooms, there is an absence of protocols or processes to ensure a sanitised environment. A newly developed program by Kimberly Clark Professional* named C.H.E.S.S.* provides facility managers tools to develop long-term washroom solutions for exceptional employee experience. Its implementation would help get a quick understanding of the state of washrooms and deduce how they stack up against optimal standards. The C.H.E.S.S.* program is built on 5 pillars: Cleanliness, Hygiene, Efficiency, Sustainability and Satisfaction that assist facility managers to effectively identify specific areas for improvement.
C.H.E.S.S.* is yet another endeavour by Kimberly Clark Professional* to make workplaces healthier, safer and more productive. Not only has their focus on raising the standard of restrooms to match the standard of the rest of the building made many offices cleaner and more hygienic; their enduring campaign on the strategic importance of washrooms has also garnered attention of organisations that can bring a positive change in the lives of the working population:
Taking their commitment to the cause of sanitation further, Kimberly Clark Professional*, as a part of their Toilets Change Lives campaign, mobilised their corporate partners and built 35 sanitation units for a village in the Karjat region of Maharashtra.
It’s time for facility managers to push for higher standards in washroom hygiene by taking action so employees can have a better experience. If you are a facility manager looking to change the face of the washrooms in your premises and make your office restroom measure up to the C.H.E.S.S.* standard, click here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Kimberly- Clark Professional* and not by the Scroll editorial team.