This week’s sign the apocalypse is upon us

See this article from the WSJ on the workplace in the bathroom. Here are two excerpts (it is worth reading the full article):

“So it’s come to this. The humble bathroom, long a place of refuge and solitude, is playing quiet host to more workplace transactions. Bathroom business has gone way beyond tapping out furtive emails on a BlackBerry. Lately, more hard-driving homeowners have converted their loos into virtual satellite workspaces, with retractable desks or waterproof touch-screen monitors. Manufacturer Acquinox of New York says sales of its steam shower/whirlpool units — a hands-free phone is standard in each — nearly tripled last year to 14,800 modules. Wisconsin-based Seura, meanwhile, reports rising sales of its vanity mirrors, which feature LCD screens in the glass. The mirrors, starting at $2,400, let users check their tie-knot, then flip a switch to watch the embedded TV.”

And some of the hazards of working in the throne room….

“Working in the bathroom, of course, brings old workaholic conflicts (spousal discord, late nights) even closer to home. There’s also Warren Struhl’s worry — that he’ll be outed when making a call from there. Mr. Struhl lives in Boca Raton, Fla., but he’s the CEO of snack-food maker Dale & Thomas Popcorn, which is based in Teaneck, N.J., so he conducts much of his business by remote. In the morning, he spends his first quiet moments in the bathroom reviewing his overnight emails. He often dials into work calls on his BlackBerry, and he figures that if he happens into the bathroom, the acoustics may give him away. To avoid embarrassment, he says, he’ll cough to cover noises, or press the mute button. “They know by the echo,” he says.

Another emerging hazard: the BlackBerry dunk. “There’s something magnetic about a BlackBerry and a toilet,” says Paul Normand, president of BlackBerry Repair Shop, a Houston company that specializes in fixing the devices. He says he gets about 100 broken units a day, and estimates five to 10 have fizzled out after customers dropped them in a sink, tub or worse. “They get leery when we ask them, ‘Was the water clean?’”

I don’t mean to dwell on my suggestions in recent posts that the newspaper industry was whithering but I have often said in public forums that “when you can take your online newspaper to the bathroom with you, that will be the end of the newspaper business as we know it today!” And now, we are not far off.

[Originally published on 7th February 2006 by MIchael Eisenberg]