United Kingdom

Poll says almost a fifth of workers won't return to offices full-time because they can't POO at work

Almost a fifth of people yet to return to the office for work full-time have revealed their biggest concern is about taking a poo at work, new research has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults across the United Kingdom by health startup The Gut Stuff found 18 per cent of those surveyed said going to the toilet was the most worrying part of returning to the office full-time.

More than half (53 per cent) of those polled also said they were more comfortable leaving their place of work to find somewhere else to relive their bowels, with 18 per cent saying they had even gone back to their own home to use their toilet before.

And the issue appears to disproportionately affect women, with 67 per cent of those asked saying they felt uncomfortable using the toilet for a number two at work. 

More than a quarter (28pc) said they had used facilities on another floor in the office, while 18 per cent admitted they were willing to hold it in all day. 

Lisa and Alana MacFarlane, founders of The Gut Stuff, are urging employers to not turn their noses up at the issue and 'try to help break the loo taboo'.

A poll of 2,000 adults across the United Kingdom by health startup The Gut Stuff found 18 per cent of those surveyed said going to the toilet was the most worrying part of returning to the office full-time [File picture]

Lisa and Alana MacFarlane (pictured above), founders of The Gut Stuff, are urging employers to not turn their noses up at the issue and 'try to help break the loo taboo'

The new research comes amid the raging return to office debate, with experts seemingly divided on the benefits and disadvantages of a hybrid working system in the future. 

One recent report indicated almost half of all office workers would quit their jobs if asked to go back to the office five days a week.

Meanwhile, data from the Office for National Statistics shows less than a quarter of UK businesses are willing to accommodate increased home-working in the future.

The number of homeworkers has increased since the start of the pandemic, with the total number of employees working from home office rising from 27 per cent in 2019 to 37 per cent in 2021.  

But The Gut Stuff's data indicating almost a fifth of workers worry about returning to the office because of their bowel movements shows the issue may now be expanding to concerns over our 'work-loo' balance.

Lisa and Alana MacFarlane released advice for employers alongside their research, with tips including ensuring toilet paper supplies are well stocked and being prepared to talk about it with colleagues.

They told Refinery29: 'It’s so much more than feeling embarrassed – employers have a responsibility to make sure their team’s health and wellbeing is supported in the back-to-work transition, and that absolutely includes encouraging people to go, when they need to go.'

'Nobody cares as much as you think they do. They’re all too busy worrying about themselves, we promise!'

The issue appears to disproportionately affect women, with 67 per cent of those asked saying they felt uncomfortable using the toilet for a number two at work. [File picture] 

Medical professionals have coined the term parcopresis or 'shy bowel syndrome', which is defined as the fear of defecating in public places, and suggest it is a surprisingly common phenomenon.

Bottling up that anxiety can adversely affect your health, according to Dr Ben Disney, a consultant gastroenterologist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.

He told HuffPost parcopresis 'can impair rectal sensitivity and decrease sphincter strength,' ultimately leading to constipation.

That also has widespread connotations across the country, with a 2020 report by The Bowel Interest finding those suffering with poor bowel health and chronic constipation cost the taxpayer £81million per year in NHS A&E admissions. 

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