1 in 3 Australian office workers use smartphones while on the toilet, risking health of entire workplace


Office workers’ poor hygiene has been exposed, as it is revealed less than half actually wash their hands after using the toilet


● 40% of Australian office workers browse the internet while in the bathroom

● 1 in 10 Australian office workers play Pokemon Go while on the toilet

● Less than half (49%) wash their hands after using the bathroom

● The number of workers washing their hands increased by nearly a third (30%) when they realised they were being observed


New research from Initial, global leader in hygiene services, has found that a 1 in 3 Australian office workers read or browse the internet while in the office toilets, with millennials aged 18 to 24 years being the main culprits (69%). For those office workers using their smartphones in the toilet, 55% used Facebook, 43% sent messages on WhatsApp, and 22% used the time to play internet games, with 1 in 10 admitting to playing Pokemon Go while on the toilet.


Initial Hygiene surveyed people in five markets around the world ahead of Global Handwashing Day (15 October 2016), to understand the state of handwashing habits in office environments. According to the World Health Organisation, hand hygiene is "the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs."


While 84% of office workers claim to wash their hands after using the bathroom, research from Initial suggests less than half this number (49%), or 1 in 2 workers, actually wash their hands after each visit.


Dr Lisa Ackerley, a leading hygiene expert, commented, “Bringing your phone into the bathroom may seem like a good distraction from work, but when workers wipe and then simply pick up their phone before washing their hands, their phone becomes a reservoir for germs and bacteria that can actually recontaminate washed hands. A smartphone which is brought into a bathroom will invariably end up with invisible traces of faeces and urine on it. These traces will then transfer to the owner’s hands.”


To combat poor hand hygiene in offices and improve office workers’ overall health and wellbeing, Initial Hygiene has launched HygieneConnect, the first fully-integrated monitoring, display and recording system that tracks the handwashing habits of an office, and allows workers to see handwashing compliance levels within their own workplace.


Initial discovered, through the use of HygieneConnect in Europe, that the handwashing habits of office workers can be improved by up to 50% due to a well established psychological phenomenon known as the Hawthorne effect, in which participants in behavioural studies change their behaviour upon discovering that they are being observed.


Kate Levy noted, “When office workers saw how many people in their office were actually washing their hands after using the bathroom, handwashing compliance improved by at least 30%. This is a significant increase and shows that if we all take responsibility for our hand hygiene at work, everyone can reap the benefits.”


Initial’s research also found that poor handwashing leads to increased incidents of colds, flu and other infections in the office, particularly during the winter months. Based on this, Initial is looking to launch HygieneConnect in Australia in 2017, to further their mission of improving the health and wellbeing of workers and lessen the effects of poor hand hygiene in the workplace.


Kate Levy said, “We know that poor hand hygiene is the biggest cause of office illness. A desk keyboard alone has 3,295 microbes per square inch – making it no surprise that 60% of time off work illnesses are contracted from dirty office equipment. Considering that substandard office hygiene is believed to have cost Australia $5.4bn in sick days in 2013, Initial wants to take the opportunity this Global Handwashing to encourage Australians to consider how their hand hygiene could be affecting their overall health and the health of their coworkers.”


Note: This research was completed in October 2016 on behalf of Initital Hygiene by ICM Unlimited.The sample size was 5,000 office workers in five markets around the world (Malaysia, UK, Australia, Germany and France).


About Initial Hygiene 

Initial Hygiene is a global leader in hygiene services operating in over 45 countries across the world including the major economies of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. It provides innovative and environmentally responsible washroom services solutions to large and small organisations across a range of business sectors including public administrations and schools, food and drink manufacturing, hospitality and leisure, medical and paramedical, construction, retail, services and transportation. The range of Initial Hygiene’s services and supplies includes:

● Hand washing and drying products and services 

● Feminine hygiene disposal units and services 

● Products for washroom, urinal and toilet hygiene and cleaning. 


For more information visit http://www.initial.com.au/