The wellbeing washroom

7th of June 2021
The wellbeing washroom
The wellbeing washroom

Because of COVID-19 there has been a shift in customer perception towards public washrooms in terms of hygiene levels expected. Users also want a better all-round experience when they visit a washroom as awareness around health and wellbeing grows. Marielle Romeijn at ONE HUNDRED restrooms explains more.

Whilst cleanliness has always been important, today feeling safe about the hygiene of public spaces is front of mind now more than ever. After all, hygiene and health go hand in hand. Hygiene wasn’t a liability before. It is now.

Due to Covid-19 there has been a shift in customers’ perception towards public toilets. Some facts from a recent research conducted by MSI-ACI for ONE HUNDRED restrooms with 4,546 participants in eight countries show the urgency to meet the new and evolving customer requirements:

• Fifty-nine per cent agree that public spaces such as train stations, petrol stations, shopping centres and municipalities give too little priority to the quality of their experience and hygiene of toilets.

• Sixty-seven per cent agree that the quality and hygiene of the toilets is a clear indicator for the general hygiene of a public space.

• Fifty-nine per cent evaluate the presence of high-quality, hygienic toilet facilities in public spaces more critically due to Covid-19.

• For 31 per cent, a bad experience with the quality and hygiene of toilet facilities in a public space is a reason to visit this place less often or to stay for a shorter period of time.

• Thirty-three per cent would use a health check in public toilet facilities when offered.

Looking at the facts, you can only conclude that the general public not only wants a better experience but will demand much higher hygiene standards due to Covid-19. This will become even more of a priority for them in consideration of their own health and wellbeing in the coming years. The awareness for the importance of prevention and sustaining wellbeing is growing everyday. Enabling health and hygiene solutions will definitely become more of a priority in any public location.

Untapped area

If you think about it, it’s quite simple in theory and time for a transformation, however to deliver this to the next level requires much more thought and innovations. These days everything from equipment to lifestyles is connected and smart, yet the ‘washroom’ is still a very untapped area. Whilst focus has been on aesthetics to the washroom experience and its hardware there’s not been much innovation and washrooms still reflect basic principles that have been around for hundreds of years.

Don’t you find that is remarkable, since public washrooms and specifically the toilet is the perfect environment for a short wellbeing break as part of the daily routine? It’s that moment of ‘me-time’ and evidence shows that such micro-breaks are helpful for wellbeing, life satisfaction, and health.

The Covid-19 effect

Covid-19 has brought to the forefront an accelerated development of new design standards that are quickly becoming the norm for any public washroom. With innovation primarily focused on the prevention of the transmission of viruses and bacteria new design rules have been defined to take into consideration improved ventilation, air humidity, modified lay-outs, antibacterial finishes with zero touch solutions to avoid direct hand contact with tapss, flush plates and urinals.

To monitor and guarantee the hygiene and quality standards, smart washroom solutions like sensors, water flow meters and other IoT services are necessary. They are a must for any high footfall location looking to increase hygiene standards and reduce operational costs, while enhancing the customer experience and duration of stay, in turn giving the general customers a feeling of being informed and valued.

Hygiene and quality

From the MSI-ACI research we know that 67 per cent think that broken parts in public washrooms give the impression that not enough attention has been paid to the quality of the services and hygiene. Fifty-five per cent feel safer if the washrooms are staffed continuously instead of regular cleaning visits. Full focus on quality and hygiene is one of the biggest challenges in high footfall locations.

The good news is that there are professional companies such as ONE HUNDRED which have the answer and offer turnkey design solutions, including a fully automated operation of staffed public washrooms. These companies offer paid toilet services with a high quality experience. Operators of high footfall locations like shopping malls, airports or train stations sometimes hesitate to offer a paid solution, because it has always been believed that toilets should be a free service for their customers.

However, research shows that customers are more than happy and prepared to  pay for high quality services rather than using low standard toilets for free, especially when they get a good deal with additional value. The average amount people are willing to pay for high quality, clean toilets with extensive services is €1.21 in Europe. This means people value a good toilet experience, especially women and people with children.

Apart from an increased focus on hygiene the growing interest in health and preventive wellbeing will have an effect on the future of washrooms. Already we see temperature checks, frequent testing, and other measures such as vital body statistics becoming part of the service offer in public spaces.

The MSI-ACI survey shows that 41 per cent would use a temperature measurement service and 33 per cent would use a health check, when offered during the toilet break. This shows that the washroom is the perfect environment for taking care of yourself. It’s a space associated now and in the future with wellbeing, based on relaxation of the body and mind. In fact, clean and safe toilets are fundamental for health.

Complementary services

So, what impact do we think these trends will have on public washrooms? Apart from the accelerated introduction of the ‘new normal’ design rules, more developments and innovation will impact the future of public washrooms, becoming health and wellbeing hubs. First of all, the atmosphere will become increasingly important. Think about personalised light, sound and even scent experiences to create the optimal atmosphere for relaxation and privacy, with complementary services like meditation booths and energy pods.

Secondly, the increased focus on the health of our planet will steer the choice of materials and the use and control of water and energy. Last but not least, technology will safeguard the quality of the operations, give insights to ensuring the services are always available and will support preventive health and wellbeing of the users.

With the help of artificial intelligence, people will become aware of potential changes in their health condition months, or even years, before symptoms appear. Why is this important? Because more and more people are looking for ways to monitor their complete wellbeing continuously, without having to change their daily routines. It should be invisible, and ‘always-on’.

Washrooms of the future will  become one of the greatest medical innovations of our time. How?

• Internet-connected toilets will appear, safeguarding health by using discreetly placed sensors and artificial intelligence to analyse urine and waste.

• Smart toilets could detect early signs of disease or viruses and help people manage their wellbeing.

• Data from smart toilets in public bathrooms could give insights into public health, predicting outbreaks.

• Smart mirrors will be added to track body temperature and vital body statistics and detect anomalies.

• These smart mirrors also interact by playing skin care tutorials reminding the user to apply sunscreen based on that individual’s plan for the day together with the weather forecast.

In short: the washroom will become a science centre furnished with devices with multiple smart sensors, that also happen to work like a toilet, sink or a mirror monitoring all kinds of wellbeing data. And this data will play a central role in the future of health, together with data from a variety of other relevant sources. It will all be merged seamlessly and intuitively to create a highly personalised picture of every consumer’s wellbeing. Every toilet visit will become a five-minute wellbeing boost; a moment to relax and recover and to feel refreshed and rewarded.

Let’s transform together

The standard for clean toilets on-the-go is stepping into the future, changing rapidly. Still only a very small number of the challenges are resolved. There is a common understanding on the importance of high standard washrooms as one of the main drivers for customer satisfaction, but the majority of high footfall locations are missing in action, whilst this is the moment to make a difference.

The importance of technology, continuous innovation and cooperation are the key to success. For this transformation to occur, we must connect the dots, linking new information to old, join forces and think big and make a change. Together we shape the journey and make the transformation happen.

Recently a new initiative has been launched to guide industry development and promote growth across the ecosystem: the Digital Bathroom Association (DBA). Have a look at:

This and other initiatives help to transform a washroom visit from a stressful, unemotional trip into a safe and comfortable visit to a wellbeing hub, that offers smart health and hygiene technologies enabling us to design the future together.


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  • ISSA Interclean
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