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Nigel Crunden, business specialist at Office Depot, examines the importance of the washroom in creating a good first impression for clients and customers, as well as providing a functional facility for employees.

First impressions are everything. While the majority of businesses go to great lengths to maintain a sleek and impressive reception area, the same cannot always be said for the washroom. Often a first point of contact for clients and customers alike, a good washroom should balance functionality and design while reflecting the qualities and brand identity of the organisation. In addition, facilities managers should consider the individual needs of staff to ensure that the comfort and needs of employees are met. Creating an appealing workspace has the potential to increase both productivity and morale, delivering direct business benefit.


MAINTENANCE In terms of current washroom trends, classic designs have grown in popularity with features such as exposed copper piping, traditional chain pull toilets and porcelain sinks making a comeback. Research conducted by revealed that 54% of bathroom renovations completed in the last 12 months included classic features and this is a pattern that has been replicated within the commercial arena.

However, while traditional designs can provide an air of class and prestige, what they add in terms of aesthetic value, they may sacrifice in practicality. More intricate vintage bathroom fittings can be more difficult to clean, service and replace,


leading to increased maintenance costs. In some instances, it may be best to opt for a more modern, minimalist washroom solution, where cleanliness, hygiene and long-term usability are easier to guarantee.

For facilities with multiple washrooms, businesses should ensure continuity of design across all washrooms to provide consistency. This way, maintenance staff are able to maintain, service and replace parts quickly, which is especially important in areas of high footfall.

When deciding upon the design of washroom facilities, it is important that businesses work to incorporate features that fit in with the company’s clientele, staff and identity. For example, a prestigious professional services firm may wish to inject a luxury feel by providing high quality soaps, hand creams and towels, whereas start-ups and digital agencies may look to project a unique quality through the use of one-off furniture pieces and fittings.


SHOWER ROOM A large number of employers have introduced cycle to work schemes and with cycling as a method of transport becoming increasingly popular, especially in urban areas, the needs of cyclists should be considered in the washroom design process.

A washroom with a shower facility is naturally welcomed by cyclists, allowing them to freshen up before the working day starts. Offering this

provision on-site may even serve to encourage more employees to commute via pushbike, improving staff wellbeing. This also helps to show a company’s commitment to protecting the environment through reducing carbon emissions. However, shower facilities can be costly, not only due to installation but because separate units that include enough room for changing are also often required. Although showers can be installed within main washrooms, they need to be large enough to service a range of needs. Business owners should therefore carefully weigh up affordability with how much this type of facility would be used, as well as additional cleaning and maintenance costs.

It is important to speak directly to employees to determine whether this sort of investment would be worthwhile. Employers are also legally bound to ensure that the washroom is designed in a way that minimises slips, trips and falls. One way of addressing potential health & safety hazards is by installing individual shower units with small flooring areas and sufficient matting to ensure employees aren’t unnecessarily injured.

Companies that take into consideration the importance of washroom design as part of overall business procedures are those that are likely to make a long-lasting impression and continue to keep staff motivated.

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