There's nothing glamorous about locking yourself in the corner stall of your office bathroom to scroll for a few minutes in peace, but it can be necessary for getting through a tough work day. Your boss can catch you watching YouTube on your work computer, or chide you for taking an extra-long lunch break, but they can't kick you off the commode. So, as WIRED reports, an English toilet manufacturer has come up with the next best thing: They've designed a toilet that becomes uncomfortable to sit on after a few minutes, with the goal of boosting worker productivity.
The new product from StandardToilet features a seat that slopes downward at a 13° angle. That makes it impossible to use without straining your leg muscles slightly, and the longer you sit, the more uncomfortable it gets. After about five minutes of use, sitting becomes unpleasant and you're forced to return to your desk where you'll probably start looking up new job listings right away.
“Its main benefit is to the employers, not the employee, StandardToilet founder Mahabir Gill told WIRED. "It saves the employer money."
But it's hard to see what concrete effects the design would have beyond killing morale. U.S. workers reached historically high levels of productivity this year—all while working longer hours and for less pay. An uncomfortable toilet seat probably won't do much to raise productivity beyond where it's at already, but it may saddle companies with lawsuits for violating rules protecting disabled employees. Activists have already accused the design of discriminating against workers who require longer bathroom breaks.
Imposing physical limits on bathroom usage would also eliminate one of the last truly private places in the modern workplace. Open offices have become the norm, even though they're almost certainly worse for productivity than access to a level toilet seat is. According to 2016 study, 53 percent of employees feel less productive when they have to work through ambient noise.
For now, the toilets are just the latest target of the internet's ridicule, but you could start seeing them in the real world soon. The toilets are now retailing for between $200 and $650.