Co-ed Company Restrooms: Is this a Viable Option or a Total No-No?
When the manager of a company heads off to work each morning there might be dozens of thoughts running through their mind such as their tasks for the day, meetings they have to attend, calls they need to make, and deadlines they have to meet. One thing, however, that they probably aren’t giving much thought to is the restroom situation in the office. While managers might not think much of it, employees do. There is no part of the office more personal than the restroom and employers need to be aware of how sensitive restroom issues can be. It is important that all employees feel safe and comfortable while they are at work. Therefore, when employers are redesigning the layout of their office, they should reconsider coming up with a plausible restroom solution that meets the needs of all employees. In doing so, employers might be faced with the decision of whether or not to include co-ed company restrooms. Let’s take a look at which option is recommended for best bathroom practices.
Employers are legally required to provide employees with reasonable access to restroom facilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, in recent years the restroom has become the battleground for those who are in the LGBTQ community. The issue of gender specific restrooms has come to the forefront leaving many employers confused about how to handle this situation. Since the goal is to create a work environment where all employees feel comfortable, many companies have adopted coed or unisex bathrooms. Here are just a few of the pros and cons of co-ed bathrooms in the workplace.
- They are more inclusive for transgender employees and are an important part of demonstrating gender equality in the workplace.
- Women typically use the restroom more frequently than men and spend more time in the bathroom because their clothing tends to be more restrictive than men’s (tights, dresses, skirts, etc) and also because they have to attend to female hygiene needs. This can result in longer lines in the women’s bathroom; whereas a unisex bathroom could cut down on the wait times for women.
- Co-ed bathrooms are ideal for small work spaces because they take up less space than having separate bathrooms.
- Co-ed bathrooms can save money for the company because it will cut down on square footage space needed and the company will have to purchase fewer fixtures and toilets. Furthermore, it will save time and money on cleaning and maintenance.
- Co-ed bathrooms tend to make some people feel uncomfortable. Many people feel embarrassed using the restroom around their own gender, much less the opposite gender.
- Co-ed bathrooms also create issues with privacy. Many people prefer the privacy of gender specific restrooms.
- In addition to privacy issues, employees might actually feel unsafe going in the restroom with someone of the opposite sex. This raises the fear of sexual harassment claims in the workplace.
- While it could be a space saver in some cases, it could also take up more space if co-ed bathrooms are added in addition to traditional gender specific bathrooms. This could end costing more money and taking up more square footage in the office.
While there might not be a perfect answer to the question of co-ed restrooms in the workplace, a possible solution would be to build a few single-occupancy unisex facilities instead of larger traditional gender specific restrooms. This would still give employees the privacy and security they need while accommodating the needs of all employees.