Woosh Washrooms

People will avoid certain brands like a bad smell… Don’t let yours be one of them.

No one wants to walk into a washroom that is unclean or missing essential consumables like soap and toilet paper; less still do visitors want to discover an unpleasant smell. Yet malodours are typically the first thing that are noticed by visitors when entering a washroom, setting the course for the remainder of a person’s visit.

We now know that visitors will use the state of a company’s washroom as a benchmark for a business, regarding those with poorly maintained assets and facilities as far less favourable to work with or buy from. Air quality is just one of a number of factors that has an influence on this vital first impression. In many ways, the entire washroom experience stands and falls with the quality of air care, making it one of the most critical features of washroom management, particularly for companies that take their visitors’ perception and overall reputation seriously.  

But why is smell such a big factor?
One answer to this question lies in the world of neuroscience. As an article in Psychology Today points out, the hippocampus, a region of the brain that regulates emotions, is now known as the site in which time-and-place ‘smell memories’ are encoded. This encoding process leaves individuals associating smells with a powerful ‘spatiotemporal’ moment which can be triggered when the individual again encounters an odour in similar or even completely different environments.

This process and the memories that are created are understood to be very difficult to alter or erase, making the washroom air quality challenge all the more important for businesses concerned with setting the right tone. The issue only takes on greater significance when factoring in the huge amount of research that suggests the lopsided power that bad memories have over good ones. In other words, if a visitor has had a bad washroom experience, particularly due to malodour, they are more likely to remember that time more vividly than other more positive occasions.

So how can you assure a positive experience?
And what are the pros and cons of the options available to businesses? Not all air fresheners were created equal and some are better suited to certain cases than others. Let’s take a look at them.   

First up is the aerosol auto-dispenser.
This is found across all different types of washrooms, particularly public loos as they are the most cost-effective way to eliminate bad smells. While these are definitely the most budget-friendly solution, the freshening smell that they dispense will disappear far quicker than other options on the market. They also have a higher impact on the environment. As such, aerosols are likely not the best option for businesses that bring lots of important clients into their offices, or for those that have green aspirations.

Secondly, you have reed diffusers.
These are now a staple in many homes but are increasingly being seen in the washroom environment. Reed diffusers are excellent at sustaining a fragrance, offering all manner of sophisticated smells that are not only easy on the eyes and nose but also friendly to the environment. The downside is their cost due to the heavy use of expensive essential oils and the need to buy multiples for larger washrooms. Businesses should also watch out for kit-style diffuser packs which will likely contain synthetic fragrances that are home to all manner of unsafe chemicals. Diffusers are excellent for executive-level offices and design-conscious companies that want to impress visitors no matter the cost.

Finally, you have cold air diffusers.
These are the most sophisticated option available to businesses yet also the most expensive. Much like reed diffusers, cold air diffusers are now becoming a staple of the modern home but are also being seen in greater numbers throughout the office and washroom environment. Nebulisers will atomise the essential oils that are most often added with water. This mixture is then propelled out of the unit, releasing whatever fragrance or essential oil has been chosen. Some of these products can be noisy, though many are designed to operate as quietly as possible. For Woosh these are a real winner, typically getting the best feedback from customers and visitors to our clients’ washrooms.  

Want to know more about air quality and washroom management excellence? Download our BLooprint here:

The BLooprint – The Facilities Manager’s Guide To Effective Washroom Management

Today marks the launch of our landmark guide for the facilities management industry.

As you may have guessed, this document, which will be the first edition of a series we’ve called the ‘BLooprint’, is all about washroom management – how it’s done, why it matters, and what the experts think. The premise of the BLooprint is simple: it looks to equip FMs with the knowledge they need in order to manage and maintain truly outstanding washrooms.

So, why have we written this? Having engaged with notable industry figures like Martin Pickard, Beth Goodyear and Liz Kentish, we found that there was a gap in knowledge that needed filling. These three contributors showed us that a go-to guide would be ideal for FMs looking to raise the standard of their facilities, especially for those who are new to the profession and unsure of best practice.

As conversations with the three contributors progressed, it became clear that washrooms are an often overlooked yet critically important aspect of an FM’s remit, with little direction or advice out there in the public domain. This is ultimately why we have started the BLooprint series. We believe this edition will provide FM professionals with the final word on how to achieve washroom excellence.

Granted, there are bigger things in life than washrooms and it should be a given that they are properly cared for. All too often, however, building users are let down and have to put up with less than satisfactory facilities. This needs to change.  

Let’s put this in perspective. The typical office worker pops to the loo around three to four times a day. For an average-sized facility, that’s over 1.1 million complaint opportunities per year – and that’s leaving aside other visitors and important guests. What if instead these visits were opportunities to leave a positive impact? With edition one of the BLooprint series to hand, this becomes a far more realistic target. It gives readers the advice they need to fundamentally change how their washrooms are managed, dramatically increasing the chances of turning a potentially bad impression into a wholly positive one.

Research has found that a bad washroom experience has a profoundly negative impact on the perception of an organisation, with visitors being far less likely to spend time or money with a company that has a poorly maintained building and facilities. “Toilets are a touchstone of building,” says FM ‘guru’ Martin Pickard, “if you want to know whether a building is being cared for or not, go in the loo, and you can just tell whether somebody’s got their handle of this place and are looking after it properly.”

It’s not just reputational damage that results from poor washrooms, though. Consider the financial impact that it can also have. In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 137 million working days lost due to sickness or injury – and that’s just the UK. As Pickard again goes on to highlight the “obvious yet decidedly ignored connection between washroom hygiene and a company’s profit margins.”

Management is one thing; effective management is another. We recognise the FM industry’s tendency to prefer data and ‘hard facts’, which is why there’s a quantitative approach to accompany the opinions of our FM luminaries. Taking on board both the qualitative and the quantitative approaches, readers will be able to build a clearer picture of how a washroom functions, how it impacts an organisation, and what needs to be done to see it sparkle all year round.

Flu season… An expensive season for some businesses.

Autumn and winter signals many things: the changing of the seasons, leaves falling off the trees, receding daylight and, of course, Christmas. But the long cold nights also bring with them an increased incidence of cold and flu. Indeed, for many, the move from autumn into winter marks the beginning of ‘cold and flu season’.

Public washrooms are often considered a main offender in the spread of cold and flu. It’s hardly surprising when you consider just how many people use these facilities day to day. They are often cramped, poorly ventilated rooms with little in the way of infection prevention. Thousands of people breath in the same air and make use of the same fixtures – toilet roll holders, sinks, soaps, towels, taps and so on. It seems like only a matter of time before a visitor picks up something. 

According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, absences from work equate to losses of around £18bn in the UK every single year – and that number looks sets to rise to a staggering £26bn by 2030. 

While the common cold and influenza virus only make up a portion of that figure – minor illnesses accounted for 24.8% of all sickness absences in 2016 – the numbers still demonstrate a need for diligence from both individuals and the people who manage public restrooms.

Cold and flu viruses are mainly spread via coughs and sneezes. Poorly cleaned surfaces also pose a risk, especially when an infected person touches something and hasn’t washed their hands thoroughly. Colds usually go away by the themselves, but flu can be much more serious and is thought to result in the deaths of around 500,000 people worldwide each year. 

Because these viruses are mutating all the time, it’s almost impossible for some to immunise people fully. Vaccines help those that are most vulnerable, but no inoculation is comprehensive to guarantee full protection.

Research has shown that viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours. This means a person who coughs or splutters in the washroom is highly likely to pass on their illness to another visitor. And, of course, the more people that use a washroom, the more likely it is that an infection will spread. Somewhat alarmingly, medical literature has also revealed that germs spread through the air via hand dryers and toilet flushes. 

Unsurprisingly, in this study bacteria were found in much higher quantities within public washroom environments, with sinks and handles proving the worst offenders. Human immune systems are very good at combating the worst of these nasties but, as Dr Nuala O Connor, GP says “Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick with vomiting, diarrhoea, coughs, colds, sore throat, flu, in fact almost all infections.”

Thorough hand washing is, and always will be, the first line of defence for fighting cold and flu. There are, however, many things that washroom management provider can do to join the fight. Beyond meticulous and well managed cleaning rotas, owners can install automatic systems to reduce the need for individuals to touch surfaces. 

Enclosed dispensers will also eliminate having to fumble around in search of consumables. Hand hygiene facilities should be made widely available to eliminate infection at source.  

Get in touch with us to see how else we can help turn the tide against cold and flu in your workplace. Or take a look at our range of hygiene products and dispensing solutions here.

4 Ways to make your workplace healthier and more productive

As humans we all become stuck in our ways, it’s natural! When it comes to workplace wellbeing some of us are happy to carry on in our corporate world, just the way we always have. Well, wake up people! Times are changing so we’ve come up with 4 easy ways you can boost your workplace productivity whilst being a lot healthier…no, it doesn’t involve an expensive office re-design or fancy desks! Read on…

Walking Meetings
The mid-afternoon meeting (the one that’s never productive)… infamous for smartphone checking, doodling, and daydreaming (…dare we say napping?). You don’t need a meeting pod to spur your creative thinking! Go for a brisk walk around the block with a couple of colleagues to get the creative juice flowing. Not only do meetings like these get you your 10,000 steps and Vitamin D but they’ve also been proven to improve employee relations and boost energy levels. Happy staff = hard working staff.

You don’t need a meeting pod to spur your creative thinking!

We’re not asking you to abolish all sit-down meetings (sometimes they’re necessary), but every once in a while…why not!

Office Plants
Although having loads of plants hanging around can remind you of your Grans greenhouse- they’re actually great for office spaces. We advise starting small, a little plant on your desk (here at Woosh we’re loving cacti at the moment!) is enough to boost oxygen and make your desk feel a little funkier! They’re brilliant little things and have been proven to make people calmer, happier and… improve productivity and creativity!

Proven to make people calmer, happier and… improve productivity.

If you’re looking for a company to brighten your office space with some more impressive plants then we can recommend Planteria Group check out their website here! They have multiple options from flowers, plants and tiny trees (even cacti!).

Don’t go crazy, no one wants to work in the jungle (asides from Bear Grills). A small plant here and there will do the trick and liven up your office in a flash!

Healthy Eating
This sounds cliché and well, maybe it is- but we’re going to mention it anyway! We all need snacks throughout the day to keep mood and energy up – that’s not rocket science. If your office has a vending machine, what does it sell? Let us guess: Crisps, chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks and maybe water if you’re lucky! (We’ll be stoked if you tell us we’re wrong about this.) This is why people find it so difficult to lose the pounds when snacking at work, the snacks they reach for are far from healthy. If you manage staff, listen up! Sugary highs end with lethargic lows and we all know what that does to productivity…Uh uh- kills it!

We all need snacks throughout the day to keep mood and energy up.

As an employer, staff will thank you for providing healthy snacks every day of the week. It can be as simple as some fruit or a granola bar- no one’s judging, we all start somewhere.

Here’s a list of some great companies that will deliver healthy snacks directly to your office, to save you the bother:

> Fruitdrop (www.fruitdrop.co.uk)  – These guys are great for delivering you fruit, milk and their ‘Nutribox’. In this box, you’ll find gluten-free snacks that are designed with the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat to reduce sugar cravings and help everyone feel fuller for longer! Psst…they also deliver to residential addresses.

> Snack Nation (www.snacknation.com) – They say ‘Delicious healthy snacks for awesome offices’… We say ‘Yes please!’. They will help you choose the right plan for your office size and guarantee 50% snack rotation so no snack boredom if you choose the Snack Nation crew. They provide you with a great variety of anything from Matt’s Mango Munchies to Complete’s Chocolate Chip Cookie (a healthy one obvs!). See for yourself.

Get Up And Get Moving
If you’re lucky enough to have a gym at your place of work, use it! The benefits of exercising regularly have been proven many times- you don’t need us to tell you this (4 Reasons why exercising boosts productivity at work? Click HERE!). If you’re lacking the motivation, you’re not alone! Luckily we have the solution…team up with your work buddies. Take on the gym together (no, not Jim from IT, leave him alone) there’s power in numbers and someone to hold you accountable is an added bonus.

Take on the gym together… there’s power in numbers and someone to hold you accountable.

No gym? No excuse! Go out walking…a 15 min brisk walk is better than nothing. Another idea we’ve seen is a pedometer challenge. Split your office into sections, be it Sales, Marketing, and Finance or just into equal groups! Every person has a pedometer (paid for by the company) and at the end of every week/month the group’s steps are counted up. Winning group gets a prize- we’ll leave that to your imagination (wine goes down very well and it’s good for the cholesterol, or so they say and we’re sticking to it).

Humans are naturally competitive, so this is a great way to get fit. Suggest fitness challenges to your workmates like- first to 100 push-ups (or 50). Why not ask if a pull-up bar could be installed on the door frame leading to the breakout room? Little bursts of fitness throughout the day are great for energy levels and productivity, and it saves you getting in your lycra and heading to the gym! Many people are put off by the idea of driving to the gym, getting changed, waiting their turn for the weights or machines (as well as having your every move being watched by someone who practically thinks they’re the Incredible Hulk!).

OK, so the office doesn’t need to be turned into a gym but installing a pull-up bar or a TRX suspension trainer in a relaxed area of the office? It’s not going to break the bank and it’ll get everyone off their butts!

Thanks for reading, we hope this helps you make your workplace healthy, wealthy and wise!