Somehow, over the years, my email address has wound up being listed on various press release distribution lists, with the result being that I get many emails every day announcing everything from company mergers to new tongue straightening toothpaste. It is almost as if the people who send these think I care. Silly people. 

Some of these emails simply contain press releases, but many are touting some expert or another whose availability for an interview is offered in the event I really want the back story on the inherent problems with crooked tongues. And of course, they would really want me to write about their innovative solutions to whatever problem for which they happen to be an expert. Almost all of these emails go straight to the trash bin, as they have no relevance to my industry or my life. 

One last week, however, definitely got my attention. It was an announcement of a study that had been conducted on the habits of a pandemic era workforce now largely based at home. And the subject line of the email told me everything you need to know.  It read, “[Report] 7 in 10 remote workers admit to working from the toilet.”

Finally, a useful study that will help us shape our future society. How could we have ever thrived without knowing that?

The email went on to explain that two years into the pandemic, the study revealed many remote workers are getting a little too comfortable working from home. It found personal hygiene habits and workspace cleanliness are seriously lagging behind in-office standards.  

These declining habits included:

  • 73% of workers admit to working from the toilet
  • 60% admit to working from the toilet at least 1x a week
  • 25% work from the toilet daily
  • 24% have attended a virtual meeting while on the toilet
  • 2 in 3 have attended a virtual meeting without brushing their teeth
  • 88% work in their pajamas
  • 84% work barefoot
  • 16% have worked naked

But we’re not done letting ourselves go. The survey also found that 92% admit to wearing less makeup, 52% wash their hair less frequently, and 34% wash their hands less often after going to the bathroom.

Wait – not quite finished yet.

64% of us have apparently passed gas during a virtual meeting. Thank God for that mute button, I suppose. And 50% say they have attended a virtual meeting with BO. 

That last one is no surprise. They haven’t showered, shaved, brushed their teeth and they’re sitting on the toilet, so of course, they smell. There was no mention of masturbating on a Zoom call, so we assume Jeffrey Toobin wasn’t included in this poll.

Shall we review for a moment? Personally, I have never worked from the toilet, although I will admit that when I am on a rare vacation, the bathroom stall is the only place I can check my email without my wife accusing me of being a workaholic. I haven’t taken a full vacation in about 4 years, so she may have a point. I rarely wear shoes in the house but am almost never barefoot. I am a “socks on the tootsies” kind of guy, I suppose. So I will admit to working while shoeless, but never in bare feet.

As for hygiene, I shower daily and brush my teeth morning and night. The notion that people may attend a virtual meeting without first brushing their teeth doesn’t really bother me. Unless they have lettuce stuck in their teeth. I hate it when that happens. And I must be brutally honest; I have worn no makeup while working at home.

The fact that the survey found only 34% wash their hands after using the bathroom was interesting. Those results are not dissimilar to what the authors of the book Freakonomics found in their work while preparing to write the book. While over 70% of men report washing their hands after using the restroom, the author’s casual observation of men in airport restrooms (how often do you get to say that phrase without getting arrested?) told them that only about 30% actually do. Personally, I hit this one out of the park. After an extensive career in restaurant and hospitality management before moving to human resources, technology, and then workers’ comp, I not only wash my hands faithfully after using the restroom but probably wash my hands about twenty times a day. Old habits die hard…

As for working naked? Get therapy. There is something wrong with you. 

I am attending the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference in March, where I will be moderating the Regulators Roundtable. They have a really unique reception planned for the opening day, called “Welcome Reception: Zoomed Out.” Attendees are instructed to “dress to impress from the waist up while wearing whatever comfy pants or pajama bottoms they would like.” I thought it was a very clever idea and was looking forward to it. After reading this survey, I am worried it will be a debacle. I certainly hope that those naked 16% remember to put some bottoms on.

You can read the full depressing survey results here if you would like. I guess that email worked, after all.

Experts have been telling us how important it is to leave your camera on during virtual calls and meetings. This survey forces us to rethink that. From now on, it might be best to leave your webcam off. And at least put some socks on and wash your hands. You’re working, after all.

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