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Silly surveys we could do without: Insights into improving employee “bio-breaks”

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FAST COMPANY MAGAZINE IS NOT a publication I’ve spent much time with, but since they have a section on their website titled Work Life, it seemed like a periodical that might have some interesting articles worth sharing here.

So far, I have not been disappointed.

That doesn’t mean everything in Fast Company’s Work Life is great, because it’s not. There’s a definite Jekyll and Hyde quality to the coverage that goes from smart and interesting to nutty and head-scratching.

Here’s one example of the latter: A recent FC story on 4 ways to improve “bio breaks” at work, based on a survey of “nearly 200 workers from various industries (e.g., agriculture, technology, education, health care, finance, law).”

This is a big takeaway?

That’s all there was on the survey methodology, and the lack of specifics and relevant details makes for fuzzy analysis where one of the four big takeaways is for managers to “Encourage Conscientiousness.” That seems to be code for dealing with employees who think it’s OK to attend a team call via speakerphone while using the toilet.

As we say here in California, I kid you not.

There’s an interesting topic somewhere in here, I think, but the thin research leads to a silly story that is more humorous than anything else. Here’s one example:

It is essential to give employees the benefit of the doubt regarding basic hygiene. Some workers reported situations in which they had to use the restroom frequently and indicated that their supervisor expressed anger at their bathroom usage.

Another employee reported being yelled at for using the toilet while sick. When we asked if these employees had any suggestions, one indicated, “Tell the manager to treat bathroom breaks as he treats ‘breathing.’ “

Some surveys are not worth doing

I know that strange problems can pop up in the workplace – I once had a reporter who fished food items out of the trash and “recycled” them for others in the office – but this faux survey on workplace issues with bathroom use really does seem overblown.

In fact, I get a lot of surveys sent my way by PR and marketing people that make me wonder, “who wants more insights on a topic like this?” They’re just a big waste of everyone’s time.

A lot of publications get sucked into these silly surveys and then publish stories about subjects that nobody really cares about. Thank goodness Fast Company has many more interesting and useful stories than nutty ones. 

But a survey focused on workplace “bio-breaks?” There are some things in life you just can’t make up.  

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