Is it OK to take your shoes off at work?

Barefoot in the office

Temperature is rising. Feet are getting hot... so hot that Nick Clegg removed his shoes in the office as the mercury nudged above 30C (not pictured). Is this acceptable, asks Megan Lane.

"I was padding around in my office without my shoes on yesterday, but obviously in public events when I have to respect the dignity of the office I put my shoes back on," he told listeners of LBC radio.

Let's recap. He took his shoes off. In the office. And then walked around. The deputy prime minister did not say whether he kept his socks on or whether this "padding about" was barefoot.

"I think it's incredibly poor etiquette," says Teo van den Broeke, associate editor of Esquire. For him, a barefoot boss "sets too lax a tone" and shows disrespect for one's co-workers. "There are so many elements that could be offensive, be that cultural or simply that your feet smell."

Nick Clegg: "I was padding around without my shoes"

Ah, yes. The smell. No-one thinks their feet honk (much), or mistakenly think only they can detect that distinctive cheesy aroma. But this is not true. A colleague checking into a hotel at the weekend noted an unpleasant aroma, and eventually identified the source - the receptionist's sandal-clad feet.

In a US survey by recruitment firm Adecco last July, more than four in 10 people said they were offended by co-workers removing their shoes, reported the Wall Street Journal.

And what about lighter footwear to beat the heat? "That's the way to do it," says van den Broeke. "Wear thinner soles and shoes that are more breathable." Flip-flops? No. He recommends swapping brogues for loafers.

And at more relaxed workplaces - anyone barefoot? "Almost certainly!" says a spokeswoman for Innocent Drinks. "We want people to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in, as long as it doesn't offend anyone else. So far no one has tried to rock socks and sandals." At Howies, an active clothing company in Cardigan Bay, the footwear count in the office is currently 60% flip-flops, 40% trainers.

Changing shoes at work is common in countries such as Japan. But this is done year-round on arrival in a designated zone, where many change into office footwear saved for indoor use only. Not even the PE teachers go barefoot at work, even on the most punishingly hot summer days.

You can follow the Magazine on Twitter and on Facebook

More on This Story

More from the Monitor

Related Stories

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.