Business in the Bathroom
I haven’t seen my partner in over an hour. Becoming a little concerned at his silence, I knock on the bathroom door to check he’s OK. He’s fine – just ‘catching up on life admin’ he replies. As I walk away from the door – glad he isn’t in any duress – I wonder if he’s being serious. Maybe he’s locked himself in and is too embarrassed to tell me. Or maybe he’s lost the plot, using the bathroom to conduct business while he, er…does his business.
On first thought, I wonder how it came to be that we are so busy we need to escape to the bathroom to do our life admin. Is modern life so hectic that even the few fleeting minutes of escape and privacy we have in the day are spent doing work? We are consumed by technology and always ‘on the go’ – there’s always some message to respond to, some email to answer. Surely, technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not add to the pressure of ensuring we reply in the same hour, if not minutes afterwards.
But then something strikes me – it’s because it’s the only few minutes of peace we get in the day. Going to the bathroom is the perfect time to sit, think and clear our schedules. It’s a time where we have long enough to respond to those niggling emails, update and organise our accounts, or even come up with new business ideas.
When my partner finally comes out, he informs me that he’s not only responded to his pressing emails, paid his bills and signed up to a cheaper electricity company, he’s also ordered the weekly shop. Aside from being incredibly impressed by the success of his little trip to the bathroom, I am intrigued and fancy giving it a go myself. And so, here I sit, door bolted, computer on lap, ready to see what the fuss is all about.
I’m 30 minutes in when I smile proudly at how much I’ve already achieved. I’ve written three emails and 250 words of this article. I’m more relaxed than ever and there is nothing to disturb me from completing my work. No background TV from the living room, no clanking of the dishwasher in the kitchen, just silence.
A study, polling 2,000 people, found that 59 per cent of men and women admitted they send texts in the bathroom, while 45 per cent send emails and nearly a third said they had taken a call while on the toilet. The research, conducted by Sony and O2 also revealed 24 per cent have phoned someone while on the toilet. Out of those polled, 12 per cent said they used their phones because they felt pressured to keep up with emails and messages.
O2's David Johnson said: ‘We've become a nation of multi-taskers when it comes to our smartphones – browsing Twitter while we watch telly, staying in touch with the office while pounding the streets between meetings, and checking the news over a cup of coffee.’ It’s no surprise then that people are using whatever free time they have to get their work done and keep up with the world – even if that means retreating to the bathroom to do so.
For many, the loo is the perfect place to also escape the hustle bustle of the office. Some use it for privacy – as financial advisor, Jenny Thomas, tells me: ‘I work in an open plan office, and it’s not common that people come up to me and ask me to complete tasks for them throughout the day. While I don’t mind, it can be hard to find a few minutes to myself to really sink my teeth into my own work – the bathroom provides me with the opportunity to help my colleagues while ensuring my own work is done at the same time,’ she says. ‘It also allows me the space and privacy I need to escape from the pressures of a corporate environment. I’ve even used going to the loo as an excuse to get on with my work, and it’s really paid off.’
And Jenny is not alone. Richard, a marketing manager, commented that: ‘I’ve had some of my best business ideas while on the loo. It’s that quiet place I can go and just be alone with my thoughts. Sometimes I even make phone calls to my clients, knowing that I will not be disturbed.’
With so much of our life admin taking place in the bathroom, it’s important to create a functional space in which to do so. While our homes and offices have plenty benefitted from smart appliances and digital devices, connecting us and providing network opportunities from wherever we are in the world, the bathroom is still yet to see a revolution in this sense. As technology integrates more seamlessly into our daily routine, the bathroom must keep up with our needs and habits. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a silently flushing toilet installed whilst you chat to a client? Or a place that can hold your device whilst you crack on your work.
Some may think that, in our constantly connected lives, the bathroom remains one of the only sacred spaces left that we can use as a sanctuary; but for those who are always on the go, constantly connected, the bathroom provides a space to perform those non-biological activities.
I can say, sitting here in my bathroom, finishing this article, that I have never felt so comfortable and engaged. Furthermore, the health benefits are already apparent. For I am no longer slouched over my office desk sipping a cup of tea. I’m forced to sit upright, maintain my posture. I can certainly see the pros in taking some time out and dedicating it to catching up on the life admin the day-to-day throws our way – not that I call my work a ‘task’, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my stint in the bathroom, and might even keep it up. Though a bathroom desk wouldn’t go amiss.
By Sian Yates, writer for Private Room