Employees now treat the office bathroom like their personal bathroom.
Don’t lettuce surprise you.
Donald Trump’s press secretary gave a press briefing Monday with what looked like a soggy lettuce leaf stuff between his teeth. Twitter, predictably, went nuts.
— Ivan Kirigin (@ikirigin) March 27, 2017
This seems to prove that Spicer isn’t using the office bathroom like so many American workers have begun using it: As their own personal grooming area. “Since work has become a second home for many people, some people are using the bathroom at work as if it were their personal bathroom — that includes brushing their teeth, changing their clothes for their next appointment,” says Cheryl Palmer, the founder of career firm Call to Career. Experts say that flossing in the bathroom is also common, as is blow drying and styling your hair, applying makeup and perfume and even occasionally reapplying nail polish, putting on deodorant and more.
The office bathroom “has become a locker room,” says Marc Dorio, an executive coach in New York.
Much of this is that we work more than in decades past — and far more than people in other countries — so we often go straight from the office to personal engagements. We have nowhere else to freshen up in this situation than the office bathroom.
But the office bathroom is now more than just a grooming spot: It’s also become a spot where people take calls, text and even hold meetings, says Dorio. You can thank open floor plans for that, as people have nowhere else to talk in secret. “The bathroom has become the new ‘cone of safety’ in most companies,” says Dorio. “It’s the safe place.”
So what’s appropriate and inappropriate to do in the office bathroom? “A brief 20-45 second brush is ample to remove any particles and freshen your breath. No need for a 2 minute scrub nor a loud spit at the end,” says Constance Hoffman, the founder of etiquette company Social and Business Graces.
Cell phone calls in the bathroom are a no-no, she adds: “No one in the rest room nor on the other end wants to hear flushing.” And if you’re changing clothes, do it in the stall. Nudity in front of coworkers is a no-no, says relationship and etiquette expert April Masini.
Practice the golden rule of the office bathroom: “Be aware of the space you are taking up. It is shared space. If you’re in the way of someone there is actually use the restroom for the old fashion reasons of using the toilet and washing hands, move away from the basin and apologize for taking up space,” says Hoffman.
And, of course, if you aren’t checking your teeth after lunch, before a big meeting, well, it’s time to turn over a new leaf.
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