Regardless of the size of your business, the public washroom can make or break a customer experience. After all, it’s often the first or last interaction a customer has with a business, and perhaps not surprisingly, a negative experience can leave a long-lasting impression. None more so in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. While research has found that the risk of spreading Coronavirus in public bathrooms is low, increased anxiety over hygiene has put shared public facilities like toilets under the spotlight like never before. If your customers don’t feel confident about the hygiene and safety of your public washroom facilities, then chances are they won’t return. Even small things like the smell can greatly impact someone’s washroom experience.
And it’s not just your customers you need to think about. The conditions of employee toilets can indicate just how committed the company is to their staff’s health, well-being, and comfort. When employees feel that their employers invest in their welfare, morale and productivity will likely increase. Furthermore, a clean and hygiene staff toilet means there’s less risk of passing germs among employees and less chance of them having to take time off sick.
We partnered with OnePoll to survey 2,000 adults in the UK to give businesses an insight into the importance of a positive washroom experience and discovered that as many as 34% aren’t happy with the facilities in their area.
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What Do People Want to See in Public Washrooms?
Even before the pandemic, the idea of using public washrooms often caused significant anxiety for many people. Public toilets that aren’t maintained can often be dark, dirty, smelly and generally not pleasant places to spend even just a few minutes in. But with the average person spending around 3.5 hours on the toilet each week, it’s likely that at some point, they will need to use a public washroom. So, what did our survey tell us about what people want to see in public washrooms?
Number of Public Washrooms
Despite 71% of people saying they are satisfied with the number of toilets available and 81% are happy with the accessibility of the facilities, many people are still concerned that free public toilets are disappearing fast from our towns and cities. Many areas in the UK don’t have any public washrooms while others charge people to use them. In addition to this, legislation states that workplaces must have an adequate number of public toilets based on employees. Cut backs to council funding from the government has meant a significant decline in the number of free public toilets leading to 58% of people not being able to use a public convenience due to not having the right amount of small change.
While our survey results show that 81% of people in Oxford feel fairly satisfied with the accessibility of public toilets, 77% of Londoners have struggled to find a toilet. Finding a toilet when they need it is imperative for the 14 million people in the UK with a disability or those living with a medical condition. But not only do people want to see more public toilets, but they also want them to be more accessible and inclusive. This means providing inclusive places that cater to every type of user, whether its people with health conditions, disabilities, or transgender or gender-neutral. Unisex toilets can be used by everyone, regardless of gender and provide additional facilities such as showers, baby changing facilities and accessible toilets.
Clean and Maintain Your Washrooms
Businesses that want to maintain a good image in the eyes of customers and employees need to invest more time and money into keeping their public washrooms clean and hygienic. However, our research found that one in three adults aren’t happy with the cleanliness of the public toilets in their area. As many as 76% of people admit to only using public toilets if they are desperate, and 70% will buy something from a café or fast food restaurant just to use their toilet facilities. While an astonishing 69% of people say they’ve encountered unflushed toilets, people want to see more public toilets available that are properly maintained and have a regular cleaning schedule.
Stay Stocked Up
It can be incredibly frustrating to go and use a public washroom only to discover it’s run out of toilet paper, but that’s the experience of over half (55%) of our survey respondents. A lack of toilet paper combined with no soap in the handwash dispenser can make using a public washroom challenging, especially amid a pandemic. Keeping stocked up with toilet paper and hand soap are simple yet important things people want to see in public washrooms.
Invest in Air Care
Smell is often one of the first things people notice when going into a public washroom. That’s why you cannot underestimate the importance of good air care. Eco-friendly air fresheners designed to neutralise washroom odours reassure people that the washroom is clean and cared for and creates a pleasant environment for them to be in. You can also get rid of bad smells forever by providing good ventilation, installing a professional air freshener system and regularly cleaning public washroom facilities.
Public washrooms must be clearly marked to enable people to find them easily. This means signs that are easy to spot at a distance and clearly state what they are directing people to. There should also be clear exits signs, especially if the washroom has an unusual corridor or entranceway. It’s also important to have general information signs for public washroom users such as handwashing instructions, how to dispose of waste materials and any other information a washroom user may need to know.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a sharp reminder of the importance of good handwashing. Of the 76% of survey respondents using a café or fast-food restaurant’s public toilets, 37% said they used these facilities because they offered better handwashing stations. As the economy opens up and footfall in facilities continuing to increase, people are understandably anxious about the idea of sharing public toilets with potentially hundreds of people and want to see public washrooms prioritise handwashing by providing good handwashing facilities that include touch-free technology.
Review Washroom Design
People want public washrooms to be clean, private and well designed. For example:
- Layout: A well designed public washroom will ideally have a one-way system that helps to keep people moving and avoids bottlenecks. Urinals should also be at the back, so users don’t have to pass behind others to access sinks or cubicles while hand dryers should be positioned near to hand washing stations in order to avoid people having to walk with wet hands from one side of the washroom to another. Not only does this create a poor experience but can become a safety hazard too.
- Location: Rather than position public washrooms in a hidden area, locating them in a more visible area reduces vandalism and makes people feel much safer.
- Acoustics: Many people can feel uncomfortable in public washrooms for fear of being heard by other people. You can alleviate this by using full-height cubicle systems that eliminate noise. You could even add a soundtrack with neutral music to create a more comfortable environment.
- Consider Extra Touches: Washrooms can be limited on space, which means some may come with small cubicles. While this is fine in some instances, in leisure facilities such as shopping centres or gyms, your users may have bags and other belongings that they need somewhere to put, while they go to the toilet. Consider coat hooks or install wall-mounted fittings to increase space.
- Make It Feel Like Home: People often feel more comfortable when they feel more at home. Instead of an impersonal and sterile space, consider extending your company’s branding into the washrooms to make them more attractive and interesting.
Discover How Citron Hygiene Can Help Enhance Your Business’ Washroom
We believe that everyone deserves a clean, well-stocked and fresh smelling public washroom. And at Citron Hygiene, we will make that happen. Our complete washroom hygiene services will keep your facilities clean and hygienic for your staff and customers. To find out more about our services, get in touch with our team today.