Office Etiquette: Restroom Breaks

Although it may seem commonsensical, some folks just aren’t informed on proper bathroom etiquette in the workplace. Some unsavory situations can arise when even just one person at the office is ill-informed.

Have you ever been in the bathroom with someone who felt the need to engage you in conversation, and more specifically while one or both of you were in the stall taking care of your needs? Perhaps you have a large office and this happens because restroom breaks seem like the only time friends who don’t sit near each other have to socialize? Or maybe you work in a very fast-paced environment where co-workers do not let bathroom breaks get in the way of their important business discussions? There are many reasons one might justify “toilet talk,” but that urge must be resisted because it is very rare that you will find someone who is not bothered by this most common etiquette offense. If it helps, imagine the bathroom doors adorned with large signs that read, “quiet please,” and “no work zone!”

Another awkward bathroom habit is waiting around for someone to finish. Try to avoid it when possible, as it places undue pressure on folks to rush. If seeking out another restroom or coming back later are options, take advantage of them. It is also important to note that many people have bathroom shyness, and situations like someone waiting on or talking to them can make it nearly impossible for them to use the toilet (no matter how bad the urge). It is especially important to these folks that everyone employs proper etiquette.

One of the more obvious rules is: clean up after yourself. No one wants to enter the bathroom to discover they have to clean someone else’s mess before they are able to use it. If you accidentally dirty the toilet seat or drop some toilet paper on the floor, be considerate and clean it up. In addition to making sure the bathroom space is clean, do everyone a favor and make sure you are clean too by taking care to wash your hands.

Above all, the unofficial bathroom policy in any office (and other public and private spaces, for that matter) should be about courtesy, respecting the privacy of others, and allowing them to use the restroom in peace.

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