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It Was Over a Coffee…

It was over a coffee, croissant and some fruit this week that I chatted with our team during a team meeting about the little things that make up a culture. I found myself recounting to them my infatuation with the bathrooms of Real Estate businesses for which we are conducting an analysis.

Now of course to the novice you’d think that was pretty weird, my being so intrigued by a bathroom, perhaps you’d go so far as to call me weird. Across my time with the  REAL+ team and this discussion, they humoured me as I recounted the story, or stories of what I find upon closer inspection of this part of an office.

Ok, now I don’t have the white glove out and am checking for cleanliness, what I am talking about is the general aesthetics of the bathroom, and what it tells me about the company as a whole, and how it feels about its people, and how the team feel about each other.

Spending time in a bathroom, well you could say that it’s a pretty personal time, you want to feel comfortable whether its 3, 5 or 10 minutes. Let’s leave the details there shall we.

The surprising thing is the life that becomes to bathroom in offices we visit. To paint a picture. A bathroom can become a storage facility, for mops, sign boards, pointer boards, we’ve even seen files, last year’s Christmas cards, and heaven forbid the bathroom wash basin doubles up as the water facility (and yes I mean a basin that’s in the same four walls as the toilet), I don’t think anyone wants to make a cup of tea whilst smelling harpic flush.

Of course we can delve further and discuss the amenities, such as, toilet paper, towels, soap, freshener, etc. and the often lack of all of the above.

Each and every time I come across a bathroom that is so unappealing I’d rather go to the local park (ok that’s overkill but you get what I mean), I think about the team and wonder how they interpret these facilities and what it means about the relationship between business and employee, and team mates. Let me tell you, it’s less than favourable.

In these same businesses, you can feel a wave of discord, complacency, it’s not unusual for the office appearance to be lacking, the people are less engaged, and everything just feels that little bit sloppy.

I challenge you today to go take a look at your bathroom, see what message it’s delivering to your people. How would it really make them feel?  I’m not asking for you to win bathroom week on the block, but appreciate the impact the small things have on your business.

We took a look around our bathroom, and the rest of our office house, we revisited our family rules, our values. Fortunately there was not much to change.  At its core I was reminded how important it is to provide the service to your people, and them to each other, that we all want provided to our customers and clients.

Fiona Blayney

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