Flushed With Rage: The DO’s And Definite DON’Ts Of Workplace Bathroom Etiquette

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As someone who mainly works from home, I quite enjoy a cameo stint in a real-life office with real-life co-workers. 

It’s nice to be able to chat to people other than the postman, and I really appreciate the lunch options available outside of the house. Plus it’s comforting to know that if I were to choke on my meal, someone would find me before it’s too late.

But one thing that absolutely stinks about working in an office is navigating the disaster zone that is the workplace toilet. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt by my years of colleague-free toilet time, but it seems the office bathroom has descended into a state of unmanageable chaos. Etiquette has been benched and replaced by a lax lavatory attitude that spells the end of civilisation as we know it.



So to restore the sanctity of peaceful shitting amongst near-strangers, here are some hard and fast toilet rules to apply in the workplace.

DON’T: Take or make a call

Historically, the workplace bathroom is a place for quiet contemplation and Brown Cardigan appreciation. It’s definitely not a place where you should make or take a phone call. During my last in-office assignment, I heard the telltale iPhone ringtone from the cubicle next to me.

Any sane person silences the call and follows up with a casual lie text. “Hey, just in a meeting, buzz you back in 5.” So imagine my surprise when this happens. “Hold on one-sec mate, let me just put my AirPods in.” He then proceeded to have an obnoxious conversation about hitting targets, while destroying the target he was sitting on. 

DO: Make a joke when you sync up with a colleague

Figuring out you’re on the same schedule as someone in the office is pretty hilarious. The first time you cross paths, a polite nod will suffice. The second time you should up the ante to a knowing smile, one that says “What a great piss we just had!” If you meet for the third time, then you need to acknowledge it verbally or risk the other person thinking you’re proper stalking them (or have a burgeoning cocaine addiction).



DON’T: Watch videos on full volume

Even worse than chatting about KPI’s is watching a video on your phone at FULL VOLUME.

A recent trip to the office throne was interrupted by the guy next to me copping the Chernobyl trailer, which seemed appropriate given what he was doing in the cubicle – a hatchet job of the highest order. Not only is this annoying, but toilet-spoilers are the worst kind of spoilers. 

DO: Accept the hierarchy extends from the boardroom to the bowl

While you can happily judge any of your disgusting coworkers, all bets are off if you run into your boss in the bathroom. Don’t expect them to try and soften the blow. Why? Because it’s a power play.

A friend of mine summed it up perfectly: “My boss busts into the toilet, and it honestly sounds like he’s tipping a bucket of offal into the ocean, but its a boss move. He wants us to know he doesn’t care what we hear.”

DON’T: Take the piss (while taking the piss)

Clock watching culture is rife within most workplaces, and now that extends to how long you take in the bathroom. Companies have realised that most of us would rather inhale Phil from account’s leftover lunch fumes than sit at our desks pretending to work. Now they’re pulling out all the stops. 



Last year the startup StandardToilet released a toilet seat that is sloped, so it sits at a 13-degree downward angle. The idea is that after five minutes, sitting on a tilted toilet will put a strain on your legs. The company reckons it can cut time in the bathroom by 25 per cent, saving AU$9.2 billion a year. Talk about the bottom line.

It’s even worse in Scotland, where Virgin Media staff were asked to sign a contract limiting toilet breaks to 1% of their shift. That’s about two minutes to get it done over a four-hour shift, not even enough time to watch the full Chernobyl trailer.

DO: Employ the tactical flush

If your job is highly paid (and highly stressful, due to your high tax bracket), there’s a good chance your workplace bathroom doubles down as a place to have a sneaky glass of nosé. While we don’t condone playing nasal tennis with Marcos Baghdatis, it’s worth noting a sly half flush will cover up any number of toilet noises. 

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