What To Use Instead Of A ‘Back In Five Minutes’ Sign

What To Use Instead Of A ‘Back In Five Minutes’ Sign

We’ve all been there; the shop you want to visit has a ‘back in five minutes’ sign, but you end up waiting for the staff member much longer than that. The solution for retailers? Rather than using a generic sign, write down the actual time you expect to return.

Picture: leafy

Business Insider proposes this solution at the end of an extended rant about how irritating these signs are and how they’re probably mostly workers slacking off. How very supportive.

I’m more sympathetic to the problem. If you’re the only staff member on deck and you have an urgent call of nature, you don’t have many other choices. However, as the article points out, there’s a better option than leaving a sign that says ‘back in 5 minutes’ when no-one knows when that time began:

As for people who post that sign without manipulative intent, it would be vastly more useful if you could post the time when you expect to return instead.

It might seem an obvious solution, but I’ve seen far more of the ‘back in 5 minutes’ version in my life. Definitely an idea worth adopting.

Please Never Use A ‘Back In 5 Minutes’ Sign Again [Business Insider]


  • I’m with Business Insider. I suspect most workers use this sign precisely because it’s vague. Putting up an actual time would make them a little too accountable for their liking.

    • exactly! But also, if you see a “Back in 5” sign, at least you shouldn’t have to wait much longer than 5 minutes!

  • Well the sign is pretty ambiguous. You could see it just a few seconds after it is put up, you could see it 4 minutes after.

  • A long time ago i saw one with a picture of a clock on it with movable hands so the person can set the time they will return at. Although i haven’t seen a “back in x minutes” sign of any kind on a shop in over a decade.

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