In the workplace, we’ve set a sense of protocol when it comes to clothing that’s become more than a little uncomfortable for both genders. Women already know the dread that comes with wearing heels in corporate settings for hours at a time. Even I’ve remarked to female friends and associates that heels should probably be deemed a torture device today if not for the expectation in being seen in so-called professional situations. This isn’t to say that flats aren’t accepted in many offices for both men and women to avoid any injury if an employee actually speaks up on how it afflicts them.
That’s one of the major concerns about office protocol: We go along with them so much that we don’t speak up to superiors about possible alternatives to make the environment more comfortable. While many offices are starting to take this to heart, there still seems to be a divide over people who remove their footwear to work barefoot.
Is it a good idea to allow your employees to run around barefoot if there isn’t any hugely important event going on? When America fully learns the truth about what footwear can do in causing more harm than good, there may be a shift in policy on the removal of footwear to a point of resembling Japanese culture.
The Health Dangers of Footwear
With heels already mentioned, we don’t always fully understand how much physical pain footwear may be already causing. That’s because most shoes don’t do our posture or gait any favors. Dr. Daniel Howell has a blog called The Barefoot Professor that warns about how dangerous footwear actually is and what it can do to cause physical pain down the road after ruining our posture.
This doctor also notes how many germs actually may exist in our footwear in comparison to going barefoot. Microbes are much easier to survive inside the warm and moist environment of footwear. In turn, it could lead to the more dangerous side of funguses causing serious problems. That doesn’t includes many of the injuries many people have to their feet from footwear that doesn’t fit right, like bunions and the very painful fallen arch.
While physical problems are more than possible from wearing footwear for long hours, there may be an assumption from superiors that regulations say everyone should wear shoes at all times. You might be surprised at the reality.
Are There Really Government Requirements for Footwear?
Depending on what your job is, OSHA may require you to wear footwear. However, most jobs have no requirements, and the government leaves it up to employers to decide whether employees should wear footwear or not. Some consider it to be a liability issue in the fear that someone will slip and fall. In reality, the same thing could happen with wearing dress shoes, especially heels. Injuries of stepping on broken glass or nails are also very rare in the workplace with the chances of having the same injury being just as great with shoes.
With so many of these facts being unspoken for so long, most workplaces could have been allowing employees to work barefoot if they so chose. While it may not be allowable in places where people deal directly with the public, should you allow an employee to work barefoot in an office, or at least in their cubicle?
Rules may have to apply that they not have it overly visible or keep feet scents from emanating into a nearby cubicle. Regardless, certain cultures sometimes require it if you’re hiring people from different cultures. With Japan and India already aware of the benefits (likely connecting to chiropractic practices), workplaces may eventually employee feet see the light more often than they ever have.