It comes in many forms. We want to start by it, in its literal sense you know. If not tuned etiquette wise, we come to the workplace with our own backgrounds and because the workplace by its nature is cosmopolitan, we are bound to experience culture shock here and there and cause it in some way, disturbing others in the process, who would never have experienced something like that.
For us it is normal, and we would do it over and over again. Etiquette and grooming are therefore critical for that reason, to say we have come together, brought together by work, and so let us try our level best to co-exist comfortably or at least reasonably.
We cannot afford to go to work full of it, honestly and if this has been happening, we do not have to feel ashamed but now begin to think about conducting ourselves in such a manner that we fit in to a cosmopolitan space with people who come from backgrounds that are different from ours.
I have a village background, for example, and I know that I am not the only one. In the village, relieving oneself took a little bit of walking to the bush to do the deed before the introduction of pit latrines. So, one wakes up without that sense of urgency to say let me deliberately empty my bowels as a matter of grooming and neatness. One could hold it until there was need to go to the bush unless they have a running tummy or something.
Of course, there is a lot of activity in the bush for a village person you know, and so before you know it, they are out there doing it. It came as culture shock for me when I moved to the urban areas and found that people in town lived with it literally. It had its own room amongst people’s rooms called toilet.
Well, now they have even euphemistically nicknamed the room, bathroom. There was running water, I learnt, and after doing the deed, one had to flash so that everything goes down the drain literally speaking.
There was also a difference in terms of the sitting position because in the village we squatted, balancing like that, and dropping it just like that. But in town where they lived with it, one had to sit on what is called a chamber.
This was a big change for me, and it took me a bit of time to adapt to this. Please do not tell anyone, but for quite some time, I was squatting on the chamber. You know the emoji I would have put here if this was whatsapps? Yes, that one with the two palms covering the eyes.
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The gory details of my move from the village to urban life are meant to make the reader see how this can come with shock and inconvenience, with the need, however, to accept that things change and adapt to the new environment and its needs.
The workplace presents us with that kind of thing when we have to deal with it both metaphorically and literally. Some do not mind going to work full of it, both literally and metaphorically. They just wake up and go to work full of it and if they allow it to drive them, that is to say, allow it to want to come out at its own time, when they feel it, when nature calls, as some put it, they just go and relieve themselves in their workplace “bathroom”.
Now some workplace offices are intimate spaces and you have the bathroom door sitting just next to someone’s office door.
They look at you disappear into the bathroom for a while and know that even if it’s called a bathroom, you are not bathing at work and so they read it well and know what you have been doing or are doing.
This whole thing is not one of those proud activities we do as human beings. We generally do not have a problem with peeing, but the other one, which is now nicknamed number two, is hectic and comes with some shame depending on where you come from.
You do not walk out of the bathroom sauntering majestically, but you collect yourself and carry yourself in that manner that says, I am coming from there and I was doing that.
It is important therefore to make this as private as possible and the best way to do so is to do it at home before you come to work. My advice is that you do something that makes the deed inevitable, and one way is drinking warm water.
Drinking warm water has its own health benefits but that is beyond the scope of this article. What is important for us right now is to establish the bowel movement benefits of drinking warm water in the morning so that we do not go to work full of it.
You drink warm water and the next thing after a while you feel invited by the bathroom, and you do it before you bath which makes you feel clean and light as you proceed to work.
We go to work light and feeling good. Yes, there will be cases of emergency here and there and you might be forced to play number two in the workplace bathroom, and you should not feel bad because emergencies are there as part of our day-to-day life.
Some have argued, without empiricism that you also are free from the metaphorical side of it when you deal with the literal side. Because you are light, your mind and heart are also light, and you feel happy.
You go to work with that sense of lightness all round and the energy you exude, even on the road as you drive, commute, or walk to work is good energy that everyone needs to thrive at work.
You see, if that is the case, you are contributing immensely to the positive energy and attitude of your workplace just by making sure that you do not go to work full of it.
Now imagine, everyone at your workplace just waking up in the morning and dashing to work full of it.
All those energies knocking against each other and causing chaos when we want to focus and work.
Is that what anyone wants? Certainly not. If, therefore, we want clean workplaces, with clean energy, happiness and productivity, we have got to take this thing we have not really called by name up to now, seriously.
At work we need to connect and one way of ensuring this is achieved is to avoid going to work full of it.
*Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]