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The evolution of the washroom

20 November 2013

A clean and well-managed washroom is essential to show visitors and employees a level of care and concern for their wellbeing, explains Stuart Taylor of Office Depot

One-size-fits all is no longer acceptable for washroom supplies and there are a number of vital considerations when choosing what’s right for a washroom. These include: the level of traffic, the length of maintenance cycles, the size of the washroom and the level of importance held in the image the bathroom portrays, as well as any environmental considerations. 

A clean, smart and well-stocked washroom can say a huge amount about the organisation you run, from both an employee point of view and a client perspective. The right combination of supplies can save on maintenance time and improve cost-savings, while ensuring continuous performance for those using the washroom facilities.


Traffic & size

A key factor to consider when sourcing washroom supplies is the amount of visitors to the washroom each day. This also includes considerations such as if there are peaks of activity at certain times of day or if the level of traffic is continuous. Where a high level of traffic is a factor, high capacity or multi roll dispensing systems, for example, can be vital to meet the demand of the washroom. Equally, the provision of premium hand towels, whether individual towels or towel roll systems, which reduce the amount needed per person, can be incorporated. Both of these considerations increase the length of time needed between each round of cleaning. 


The size and location of the washroom can also impact the supplies needed. If the washroom is large and in a public area, the supplies necessary will be completely different from the needs of a small washroom located in an office. When space is at a premium, traditional products may be too large for compact spaces. For example, compact toilet-tissue dispensers and mini hand-towel dispensers can save valuable space. In more spacious washrooms however, large dispensers can be used, which can store accessible refills to meet the demand of a larger volume of traffic.


Budget or luxury?

The quality of products chosen for the washroom is also important. There is a wide range of options depending on the type of washroom an organisation chooses to provide. For example, executive and visitor washrooms, where there are fewer visitors but the owners wish to portray a more professional image, will require a higher level of quality from toilet paper and hand towels, as well as the actual dispensers. A more luxurious washroom environment can be created simply by ensuring the design of dispenser systems chosen follow a common theme. By choosing one common style, for instance brushed or polished stainless steel, a modern clean look can be achieved.     


Sustainable considerations

As organisations evolve and environmental considerations become of higher importance across businesses as a whole, so to does the focus on reducing the carbon footprint created by washrooms. Increasingly the UK seems to be embracing the more European model of considering the environment first and the aesthetic look as a secondary factor, especially when it comes to toilet tissue. Traditionally in the UK, businesses, especially those looking to create an ‘executive environment’, choose premium white and quilted toilet roll. Whereas in Europe, grey or beige, slightly rougher paper is often considered the norm. This type of paper is often made from 100% recycled fibre and requires far less chemicals to be produced (in the UK bleach is often used to whiten toilet roll).  

The type of toilet-paper dispenser chosen can affect the carbon footprint of the washroom and also the amount of wastage. Choosing to use a dual-spindle dispenser creates the option for a toilet roll to be part used and still available to the washroom users after the dispenser is replenished with a new roll, rather than with a single-spindle dispenser where the toilet attendant will have to choose to either place the part-used roll on top of the dispenser or cistern to potentially go unused, or leave a toilet roll to run out in between rounds of cleaning. This may seem like a small or insignificant problem, but when considering the look of the washroom and the impression it creates, even toilet tissue must be considered.


The drying question

A further factor that is important to consider is whether to use paper towels or hand dryers. Paper towels can have an impact on the carbon footprint created by the washroom, however this can be reduced by choosing paper towels created from recycled materials and utilising a dispensing system that eliminates product wastage. Whereas hand dryers can potentially reduce wastage, the electricity used, initial production of the device and the ongoing running costs can have a significant environmental impact. The preferred option is often specific to each business and dependant on the type of washroom facilities required. 

Due to the ongoing diversification of products, tissue manufacturers and distributors are now aligning products and their purposes to specific washroom types. This is now often highlighted in sales materials, allowing customers to easily determine which products provide the best solution for their particular needs. 

A washroom which provides the appropriate facilities to meet the demands of those using it, while potentially shrinking an organisation's carbon footprint and promoting a look which is aligned with the business, can create a positive impression on both visitors and employees. And no matter how minute the detail, it is important to consider every aspect in order to provide a washroom that suitably represents your business.