"I'd go barefoot all the time if I could."

We hear that sentiment ALL the time! Really. You CAN go barefoot much more often -- even in public! This site has tons of resources to help society become more "barefoot friendly," but you must begin with your own two feet.

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working barefoot

The comfort of bare feet can extend to your workplace -- and it might even make you more productive!

Let's face it: Our jobs can be stressful. There are deadlines to meet, orders to fill and annoying customers to deal with. What's a great way to help relieve some of that stress? Take off your shoes!

Workers who shed their shoes may be more focused on their work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that unpleasant environmental conditions -- including ergonomic factors -- can be a leading contributor to stress in the workplace.1 German ergonomics researcher Dr. Dieter Breithecker explains a tie between going barefoot and lower stress: "Putting the soles of your feet in contact with all the normal sensations helps to relieve internal tension and reduce stress."2 

Why not consider going barefoot in the workplace? Many common workplaces, including offices, schools and retail stores, are generally free of dangers to the feet. If we're more comfortable and have less non-work-related problems on our minds -- like how uncomfortable our shoes are -- we can focus better on the tasks at hand. Better focus means higher productivity. Many people already know this. That's why they slip off their shoes under their desks.

It's very unlikely that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. or any other similar agency elsewhere would require you to wear their standard for shoes. Only a few very specific job descriptions are mentioned in OSHA's policies,3 and frankly we'd want to wear shoes to do those jobs, too.

If you work in an environment where your feet are not in regular, identifyable danger of being injured, consider working barefoot. Your feet will thank you and you may just be more productive. Your boss will like that!

1. NIOSH Publication No. 99-101: STRESS...At Work (Link)
2. "Walking Barefoot an Effective Reflexology Method" Earth Times, Dec. 6, 2010 (Link)
3. "OSHA. Oh, Sure." Ahcuah (Link)