A colourful approach to workplace hygiene
Maintaining a high level of workplace hygiene is a key consideration for modern facility managers.
Research by workplace washroom specialists Initial Hygiene has found that one in three office workers do not wash their hands after using the facility, causing employees to take 1.6 sick days each year, and costing businesses $5.4 billion1 in lost earnings as a result of sub-standard hygiene.
According to Initial Hygiene, which is part of the Rentokil Initial group, applying colours to washroom equipment can lead to significant improvements on these figures.
Rentokil Initial head of marketing, Kate Levy, says colourful washroom equipment increases hand-washing compliance through the effect that colour has on human behaviour.
“The most obvious benefit to using colour in functional design is that most people notice colourful things,” Levy says.
“In the washroom, a user is more likely to remember to wash their hands or use the hand sanitiser on the way out when the dispensers stand out from the often bland décor of a commercial washroom.”
For commercial buildings, Levy continues, colours can be used to distinguish one function from another.
“For example, some customers choose one colour for their washroom accessories, but use another standout colour for hand sanitiser dispensers,” Levy says.
“This signifies something different to use and, when more users respond, the hygiene security of the whole premises increases.”
Taking this concept into development, Initial Hygiene came up with the Signature Colour range of products to improve hygiene behaviours in corporate spaces through tapping into human senses with the use of evocative colour.
Initial Hygiene worked with colour psychology specialists to identify seven colours that trigger Australians to wash after use, with the aim of harnessing the power of colour psychology to provoke feelings of cleanliness and motivation.
According to Initial Hygiene, colour specialists chose bright and clean colours with a yellow base, as these psychologically drive positive and proactive behaviour in washroom users.
Coated with antimicrobial properties, the units also prohibit the spread of germs and protect users from bacteria on touchable areas.
Levy says the design considers and reflects the needs of end users. She adds that this approach to washroom hygiene also provides improved efficiencies for facility managers.
“When people’s needs are met, they are more likely to have overall positive experiences. While positive interactions with functional design are often unmentioned or taken for granted, a negative experience draws a lot of attention,” Levy explains.
“Commercial buildings and their facilities managers have more time to be forward thinking when they can skip the dramas of needs not being met. It’s more cost-effective and time-effective to implement the right systems than to react every time something goes wrong.”
Levy believes the application of functional design to washroom facilities will continue to grow in importance in the coming years.
“It’s all about connectivity – and cleverly using data to track and drive behaviours. Facility managers need to be aware of the source of costs associated with a poorly functioning commercial building and find innovative ways to deal with the roots of these issues,” Levy concludes.
1 Conducted by the centre for economic and business research (Cebr).
This article also appears in the October/November 2016 edition of Facility Management magazine.