It seems the latest luxury item to adorn corporate lobbies is the somewhat inglorious hand-sanitizing station covered with interior-design friendly finishes such as faux brass or imitation marble. The sentiment seems to be that if they have to be there, and they probably do, then at least they can look like they were carefully and intentionally selected, rather than dropped off by some impersonal sanitization team.
Watching people use these stations, one might wonder whether an altruistic or selfish motivation is at the heart of the gesture. If you use hand-sanitizer on your way into an office building, it’s for the good of the people whom you are about to greet with a handshake. But if you use it on the way out, it’s because everything and everyone you came into contact with in the building urges extra precaution before you carry on with your day.
There are, of course, justifications beyond these binary scenarios, but it appears that, at least in healthcare environments, the purifying impulse is motivated by the wellbeing of others. In a popular hospital study conducted by a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor interested in “prosocial” behavior, posted placards encouraging extra precaution for the welfare of patients elicited more cleansing than signs that merely reminded sink users of their own health risks. The margins were significant — 45 percent more soap or hand sanitizer was used at stations with signs declaring, “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases” versus those merely intoning, “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases.”
The professor who conducted the study was Adam Grant, who was recently profiled in a cover story published in The New York Times Magazine examining the premise of his new book, Give and Take. Based on his research at hospitals and in corporate office scenarios, Grant has concluded that virtuous giving is a significant productivity boon. Apparently a “sense of service to others” can motivate us to do more. It’s possible to achieve more if your to-do list is based on how your actions will benefit others, rather than just your own egocentric sense of self-satisfaction after a hard day’s work. This works both in a direct sense and in terms of “big picture” thinking. Workers found their jobs more satisfying if they had an idea of how the lives of others were improved by their labor.
Fortunately, the effect of good work is magnified for those who integrate AV into healthcare spaces. Technology that streamlines the workflow of caregivers, enables education and training initiatives, and, most importantly, enhances patient care, is definitely good validation for a job well done. All the more reason to harness the power of AV technology in the growing healthcare market.