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12% of Brits admit to going to the toilet in a virtual work meeting

One in eight Brits have admitted to using the loo while in a virtual work meeting. (Getty Images)
One in eight Brits have admitted to using the loo while in a virtual work meeting. (Getty Images)

With our lives becoming increasingly time-poor, technology has enabled us to become masters of multi-tasking.

But turns out some of us are taking this ability to the extreme by going to the toilet while also in a work Zoom call.

New research from YouGov reveals that as many as one in eight (12%) say they have gone to the loo during a virtual work meeting.

And we don’t mean left their device behind while they secretly went to the bathroom – we mean actually bringing their laptop or phone with them to perform their bodily functions. Gross!

Younger workers are the biggest loo/meeting culprits, with 21% of 18-29 year old workers who use virtual meetings at work saying they’ve spent a penny while doing so.

Turns out men and women are equally as guilty of answering the call of nature while colleagues are presenting, with 12% of men admitting to doing so and 11% of women visiting the Zoom loo.

It is safe to say that going to the loo during a virtual meeting can be added to the list of Brits’ inappropriate virtual meeting behaviours, with 83% of workers saying doing so is unacceptable, including 64% who consider it "completely" unacceptable.

Only 15% believe it is acceptable to bring your meeting to the bathroom.

There are some pretty gross reasons you shouldn't be using your phone on the toilet. (Getty Images)
There are some pretty gross reasons you shouldn't be using your phone on the toilet. (Getty Images)

While the thought of your colleagues peeing while presenting may be horrifying, it isn't terribly surprising considering how attached we are to our devices.

Whether it’s falling down an Instagram rabbit hole or catching up on the latest Traitors drama, us Brits are never far from our tech, so much so that more than half of us (59.2%) take our mobiles with us when we go to the loo.

New research has revealed just how much time we spend scrolling while sitting on the toilet. According to a survey of 2,000 Brits, carried out by energy and water saving experts Control Flow, we spend six months of our lifetimes endlessly looking through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms.

A previous study by NordVPN showed that reading or listening to news is the second most popular activity people do on the loo, followed by staying in touch with current affairs (33.9%) and using time to take care of life admin by messaging - or even calling - their loved ones (24.5%).

While it might seem like the ultimate in multitasking, taking our tech to the toilet has been found to be one of the most annoying bathroom habits. Two-thirds (60%) get frustrated when a family member hogs the bathroom by reading or playing games on their phone while sitting on the loo.

But aside from being irritating for your family, housemates or colleagues, using your phone or laptop while otherwise, er, engaged is a bad habit for a number of reasons.

It's a hotbed of germs

Research from Kastus reveals that us Brits are so attached to technology we pick up our phones every 12 minutes, with more than a quarter (26%) using their phone on the loo every time they go and over half (51%) going on to handle their phone at every meal.

The problem is almost a third of us have never once cleaned our phone (or laptops for that matter), so you can just imagine the nasties our gadgets could be riddled with, particularly as germs live on smooth surfaces like mobile phone screens for up to 28 days.

Think of the germs! (Getty Images)
Think of the germs! (Getty Images)

Dr Hugh Hayden, infection control specialist, said: "It’s an established fact that smartphones can carry up to ten times more germs than toilet seats, and from a hygiene viewpoint, touchscreens have been described as the ‘mosquito of the digital age’ as being vectors of infectious disease.

"When we touch shared surfaces then use our smartphone screen [or keyboard] there is a risk of cross contamination, the phone itself then becomes a source of infection."

While many of the pathogens found on technology can be harmless, some can lead to some pretty nasty health ailments.

Previous research papers have indicated that some of the most common pathogens found on mobile phones are: Staphylococcus – the most commonly found strain is staphylococcus aureus – a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning.

Other strains of Staphylococcus could also feature on your phone screen and these can cause diseases such as meningitis, sepsis and urinary tract infections.

Then there’s the Coliforms (including E. coli) and Enterococcus, which tend to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of faecal origin may be present.

Even if you’re not using your phone on the loo, if you’re still holding it while you’re going in and out of the bathroom, that’s enough to put bacteria on the phone particularly if you haven’t yet washed your hands.

Could taking your technology to the toilet be impacting your health? (Getty Images)
Could taking your technology to the toilet be impacting your health? (Getty Images)

It can impact your down-there health

Turns out it isn’t just germs we need to be wary of while enjoying a little toilet-time with our smartphone or laptop.

While many of us use the toilet as some a kind of time-out from life and an opportunity to catch up on your phone-min, too much scrolling in the sanctuary of the bathroom could have an unexpected impact on your bottom.

Hello haemorrhoids!

"While you might enjoy sitting on the toilet scrolling through social media, this could be damaging your rectum," explains Stephanie Taylor, health and wellbeing expert and founder of Stress No More.

"When you sit there, with your anus at a different level than the rest of your bottom half, this puts extra pressure on the veins in your lower rectum, which could eventually lead to haemorrhoids that can be uncomfortable and result in rectal bleeding."

But before you vow never to use your phone or laptop on the loo ever again, Dr Kevin Barrett, a GP and chair of the The Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology (PCSG), says we may only really be at risk of the r’hoids if we’re constipated.

"It was thought for a long time that sitting on the toilet for a long time might make haemorrhoids more likely, but studies carried out have not shown a significant risk of this happening," he says.

Instead he says the risks of using your phone on the toilet are more likely to come from a reduction in circulation to the legs (in very extreme circumstances this might lead to the development of a deep vein thrombosis), or from the contamination of your reading material [ie your phone] with poo. See above.

The majority of Brits take their phone with them to the loo. (Getty Images)
The majority of Brits take their phone with them to the loo. (Getty Images)

Do we need to go technology/loo cold turkey?

Not necessarily as long as we try to cut down on the time we spend on the toilet with our technical friends and practice good hand hygiene.

"Hand hygiene is vitally important," Dr Colm Moore area technical manager for Initial Washroom Hygiene previously told Yahoo UK.

"Washing your hands regularly is one of the most powerful steps people can take to help prevent the spread of bacteria and illness. We recommend washing your hands at least five times a day, as well as every time you use the bathroom.

"And of course, it helps to give your phone a regular clean with an antibacterial wipe."

Hygiene: Read more

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