In today’s hypercompetitive economy, businesses must demonstrate continued productivity and innovation. That starts with employees who can come to work at the top of their game.

But when employees show up at the office even when they are sick, they may be doing more harm than good for their company and co-workers. According to one University of Arizona in Tucson study, it took a sick employee carrying the flu virus just four hours to contaminate 50 percent of the office surface and co-workers with the virus.

“Presenteeism,” when a worker comes to work despite being sick, can take a toll on employees—and the company’s bottom line. Not only can sick employees suffer from exhaustion and experience a lack of motivation, they are more likely to turn in low-quality work.

Perhaps most importantly, when employees share germs instead of ideas, productivity can plummet. The cumulative impact? “Potentially billions of dollars will eventually eat into the bottom line,” said Dave Frank, president of the American Institute for Cleaning Services.

To combat presenteeism, employers should first encourage sick workers to stay at home. Additionally,  there is one area that building managers can target to encourage workers stay hygienic and productive: the office restroom.


The Most Trafficked Room

The office restroom is one of the most heavily trafficked rooms in any office building. A typical office worker visits the restroom upwards of four times per day, according to Kimberly-Clark Professional* research.

Kimberly-Clark Professional’s C.H.E.S.S. program helps building managers to target the restroom and elevate the overall restroom experience. The quality of the bathroom is broken down through five standards: Cleanliness, Hygiene, Efficiency, Sustainability and Satisfaction.

Kimberly-Clark Professional recommends that building managers consider these three questions when assessing the quality and cleanliness of the restroom:

  • Are personal hygiene products available both in and outside of the restroom?
  • Are floors and/or sinks properly disinfected?
  • Is there signage in and around the restroom related to hygiene?

Building managers can also encourage employees to dry their hands with single-use hand towels like Scott® Scottfold* M Towels in place of jet air dryers while using the restroom.

Drying with single-use hand towels reduces bacteria on fingers by 77 percent, while jet air dryers can increase the germ count on fingertips by up to 42 percent.

An article published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings analyzed the hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods. The article concluded that paper towels are the best hand-drying option in locations where “hygiene is paramount,” such as hospitals and clinics. It also determined that air dryers cause cross-contamination and deemed them unsuitable for these environments. “From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers,” the article concluded.

By having the right amenities and by creating a pleasant restroom experience, workers are more likely to practice good hygiene in the restroom and curb the spread of germs as a result.


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