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Want a Great Workplace? Start with the John/Toilet...

Robert Scoble has a great piece up at Fast Company providing advice to Microsoft as it prepares to create a retail presence to compete with the Apple store.  In the article, he compares the Apple experience with the more "mass-market" experience you get when you go to Best Buy. 

Like anyone with an inner geek, I love Best Buy, so it's hard for me to be critical.  But part of his adviceBathroomo attendent to Microsoft caught my eye as it relates to building a workplace that could routinely compete in the "best places to work" category:

"Microsoft has to build an integral and magical experience. When you go to Disneyland everything fits together and attention was paid to every element of a guest's experience. Same thing here. If I were Microsoft's designers I'd start with the bathrooms. Why? That's one place that Apple hasn't spent much time (they often are dirty, don't use any technology, and don't match the rest of the store in the experience). Make the bathroom experience magical, then work backward out into the store. Make every experience something you can't do at any other store."

Think about that for a second.  Where do your employees spend a lot of time other than their office/cube?  What experience, if negative, has the potential to make employees do the gag reflex and throw up in their mouth a little bit?

That's right - your bathrooms...

I hadn't thought of it before reading Scoble's article, but I'm going to venture a guess that by spending 2 to 3x what others do on the bathroom and by paying to keep it clean during the day, you can deliver a differentiating factor that your employees would notice if they ever interviewed for another job.

I'm dead serious - done right, this might be one of the most inexpensive ways you could deliver value that others can't or won't.  I choose convenience stores, on road trips, based on what I know about the cleanliness of their johns, so why wouldn't that have an impact on where I want to work?

And make sure I have access to paper towels instead of the industro-blower....


Chris Ferdinandi - Renegade HR

I was always amazed that Target has softer toilet paper and better bathrooms than one of my former employers did. I'm with you and Scoble on this one!

Ken Moir

Any decent retailer or restauranteur knows this: it's customer service 101. If your customers are all or mostly internal (employees), it's equally important.

BTW, the best restrooms on roadtrips? Hotels. They're always near the lobby, always open to the public, and always clean (becx. the operators succeed or fail on the first impressions they make here).

Hayli @ Rise Smart

Can I just add that this makes a huge difference in particular for working moms of young infants? These women often have to spend up to an hour or two each work day in the restroom to keep up their baby's feeding schedule, so please make it comfy.


My mom works in an Apple store that opened 2 years ago. Employees don't have a breakroom for meals - just a table at the end of a hallway lined with shelves of product. Bathroom leaves a lot to be desired. While Apple has heard the battle cry and is now building out their new stores with better amenities for the employees, unfortunately they aren't doing anything to improve the older stores.

Hayli - there are two managers in her store who are young moms with that exact problem. They perch their pumps on the sink and pray no one knocks for 15 minutes.

Marie Adams

It just goes to show that it's the little things that matter, especially a little bit of cushy toilet paper and paper towels. It's something that may seem insignificant to employers, but having clean bathrooms can go a very long way with employees.


This makes me sad. I thought we had come farther. Employers should provide a lactation room for new moms. But, I guess if there is so little internal customer care that the rest rooms are lacking, a lactation room is an unheard of luxury.


Couldn't let the thread pass by without adding this classic bit of wisdom, courtesy of the ScotTissue Paper Co., c. 1932:

I think a lactation room might be a little too far down the road, but comfortable bathroom facilities yes for sure.

Wally Bock

Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.

Wally Bock

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