» A Guest Contribution by fellow Barefooter Randy Scott owner of Barefoot Art & Antiques
Whenever we hear about folks enjoying the barefoot lifestyle, we normally think of doing so in a non-work related environment, but what about the idea of not only living – but working – barefoot? Sound crazy? Not really. And like most topics surrounding the barefoot lifestyle, don’t rush to judgement.
Not too long ago, barefoot competitive running would have been quickly criticized, but is now very popular and practically mainstream. Take it from a business owner that has been doing it for years! Of course, many businesses simply cannot allow employees to be barefoot for many reasons. Some are obvious like working in warehouse or construction positions where OSHA (Occupational Safety Health Administration) rules (in the USA), or other similar organizations elsewhere in the world, dictate. And of course, there are common sense rules that apply as well, no matter where you live. The potential for harm to your bare feet exists in many work environments. I believe they all pretty much speak to themselves so no need to dwell here.
But what about working barefoot in a non-hazardous atmosphere like in an office, sales or customer service position? I owned my own automobile dealership for many years, and the last several years I was barefoot almost all the time, with cold weather being the primary obstacle. I’m not one of the 24/7/365 barefooters out there. I mean good for them, but my feet get cold in the winter, and living barefoot is all about personal choice & comfort for me. But I digress.
If you work for yourself as I do, it’s pretty much up to you if you show up to work barefoot or not. But let’s focus on those of us that work with and for others. Asking your manager or boss about working barefoot may seem odd but not for the brave barefooter! Let’s face it; we barefooters are all already a little different – in a cool & free way! What have you got to lose? Maybe a “no” – or – maybe a “well, sure”. Your superior may even appreciate the idea & your willingness to ask. There are more and more open minded businesses out there these days that operate outside the box, with employee happiness (& retention) being very important to them. Just look at Google! However, I would advise against just starting to do it without permission. That could cause a conflict & hurt those chances for a “well, sure” answer.
Personally, I found several things to be true in my barefoot work experience. First, I did not dislike being at work so badly. I was much more comfortable barefoot, as always – and thus more productive. Being in sales, my unshod appearance often took the edge off greeting customers already uptight & nervous about buying a car. One of the first things said by the customer was usually “hey, don’t you need your shoes?” before going out onto the lot. After a brief summary of my barefoot lifesytle, everyone was smiling and nodding their heads. “Cool, sure, why not?” became a regular type of reply…and always a great opportunity to share the barefoot lifestyle. Also, it often seemed to disarm our customers from a lot of the fear of doing business, thus helping sales. A “This guy is just a cool old barefoot hippie, I really don’t think he’s gonna cheat me…” kind of thinking. And of course I was not – but all us car dealers have to constantly fight that stigma & I truly believe my barefootedness helped in that regard.
Nowadays I am in the art & antique business and work from home so my being barefoot is not so quickly noticed or spoken of. In any case, I truly believe that if you can safely work in your place of business or employment barefoot – and get permission – you will be happier and more productive at whatever you do for a living. Who knows? You may even inspire others ‘lose the shoes’ and enjoy life for a change – at leisure and at work!
Keepin’ em Bare,