You spend so much time, energy and — let’s be honest — money on the design and look of office space, customer reception, even your storage or warehouse. But what about the place that’s commonly overlooked?
I’m talking bathrooms. It’s a sensitive topic, I know, but we need to talk about it. Here’s WHY your bathrooms deserve just as much attention as the rest of your business:
- Bathrooms set the tone for the rest of the business. It’s not just the bathrooms at restaurants; when a bathroom in any business has multiple cracked tiles, stained sinks, broken locks or is really, really dirty — people will wonder: if they don’t take care of their bathroom, what about the rest of the company?
- Bathrooms are an employee benefit. With the exception of mobile businesses, you need to provide adequate facilities for the people who work in your space. Well-planned and well-kept bathrooms are key to good morale. Plus, there’s the logistics: you don’t want your workers losing time by heading to the fancy facilities next door every time they need to go.
- Bathrooms help your business stand out. Let’s face it, most public bathrooms are boring or basic. Ever had to use the restroom in the middle of Times Square? Instead of a random Starbucks, you’d probably head to the Marriott Marquis. A beautiful bathroom lures people in.
What turns an okayish bathroom into a “Wow! That’s where I want to go” bathroom?
Here are the essentials for planning the perfect public restroom:
A spacious, completely private single bathroom is obviously very comfortable but usually not an efficient use of space or funds. On the other hand, space-saving stalls can be awkward and uncomfortable. A nice compromise are single-user bathrooms, toilets (and often individual sinks) enclosed in their own space with floor-to-ceiling walls.
How many bathrooms do you need is another big question you’ll need to answer. OSHA determines the bare minimum of toilets and sinks you’ll need, including how many must be ADA-compliant. But don’t neglect the user experience — especially at peak times. (Think bathroom lines at ball game stadiums.)
Yes, even your bathroom design should be true to your brand. A fun-loving company deserves a bathroom that’s a little funky — say trendy floor tile or stalls in an unexpected color. A classy business like hotel or upscale restaurant needs a bathroom that conveys luxury and elegance: muted color tones, high end finishes. Modern, tech-savvy company? How about a minimalist bathroom with smooth, clean lines.
One quick fix to raise your restroom’s style: opt for softer lighting over the intensity of traditional fluorescent. Natural lighting is perfect, of course — add frosted film to windows to retain privacy. Strategically placed task lighting also helps users see in a more attractive light. Mirrors help you make the most of the light available.
Public restrooms get a LOT of use (and abuse). All the materials you select need to be durable and water-resistant. You need to think long-run when you’re finalizing your selections. A less expensive product may offer significant savings now, but it might mean a short lifespan — and you don’t want customers or employees seeing cracked tile or warped floor, day after day, until you can afford to replace it.
Equally important is choosing materials that are easy to clean. Look out for deep ridges that can collect dirt, countertops that need tender loving care and materials that hold onto fingerprints or bacteria. If it won’t look good as new with a spray, wipe, or mop — keep looking.
Water is what makes a bathroom run, making it a major part of the utilities cost. Surprisingly, the greatest water “consumer” in a public bathroom are the toilets, not the sinks. An older toilet might use up to 7 gallons per flush! So while new, high-efficiency toilets may seem expensive, they can translate into impressive savings in the long-run, not to mention making the place look better.
Another big saver: automatic shut off for sinks — no need to worry about careless users who don’t shut the tap. The jury’s still out on whether those sensor-mediated faucets save or waste more water. Personally, I hate having to wave my hands all over just to get a little trickle of water.