Cultural differences in toilet walls

US executive toilet gap legs and all

What do you see? Depends on who you are. In the US it’s just a row of toilet cubicles. Elsewhere in the world it is “what’s with the huge gap between the floor and cubicle wall? A gap large enough to see the legs of the person in the cubicle next to me!”

Apologies for dragging this blog to the level of the toilet, but there is a point to this observation. Things that are normal in one culture may not be quite so normal in other, even the most mundane. On distributed projects with off-shore teams it is not enough to ensure you have robust processes and open channels of communication. You need to ensure that cultural differences are understood and respected. Don’t assume everyone shares your design of toilet.


  1. Conor Neill · Monday, 11 June, 2007

    What are the cultural stereotypes regarding taking photos of other people whilst in the toilet?


  2. Carlos Villela · Monday, 11 June, 2007

    I understand the walls between cubicles have that gap so you can wash the toilet by just hosing it all down (or emptying a bucket of soapy water on the floor and letting the water flow around).

    But, while we’re talking about cultural differences and toilets…

    That gap only works if there’s a sink somewhere in the toilet floor, and I haven’t been to a single toilet in Brazil where that sink isn’t there in a corner. Presumably, it’s the same in the US.

    My flatmate (also Brazilian) relied on that assumption without making sure there was somewhere for the water to go, and after a few minutes, flooded the whole thing. Because there was a substantial amount of water, its weight also flooded the bathroom downstairs. And the corridor. And…

  3. Muthu Ramadoss · Monday, 11 June, 2007

    The “Gap” is wonderfully explained. Nice post.

  4. vanity units · Thursday, 10 June, 2010

    Impressive post! I really don’t know why there’s a gab between the floor and the cubicle wall.. All I know that the gap is also a way to determine if the toilet cubicle is occupied.

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