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THE INC. LIFE

Free Your Feet, Free Your Mind–How These Workers Thrive Without Wearing Shoes

Going shoeless at work might just put you a step ahead through your entire workday.

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BY Wanda Thibodeaux - 16 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Last week, Swedish startup Instabridge took over Inc's Snapchat to give us a better sense of the startup scene in Stockholm. After all, business is global, and there's always something to learn and appreciate from how others tackle their spaces and work. But then this happened:

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Yes, that means Swedish workers go around in their socks all day long. They even, as Instabridge employee Ariel Perez reassured us, do interviews and presentations in them. No big deal at all.

Why we all need to get on board this shoeless thing

1. It's actually more hygienic.

I know what you're thinking. Dirty stinky foot germs. But when you don't wear shoes, your feet actually have a chance to breathe and stay drier. Subsequently, the growth of bacteria isn't nearly as bad. WebMD points this out and recommends not wearing the same shoes two days in a row so they can dry out. And since you're still wearing socks, your feet aren't making direct contact with the floor...which is cleaner anyway because you're not tracking dirt from outside into your space. And some more fun facts: Research shows bacteria live longer on shoes, that shoes constantly pick up more bacteria and that shoes easily transfer bacteria to flooring. That's something to consider given that tests also showed shoes have more bacteria than a toilet seat.

2. Better comfort and physical health

While shoe design is getting better, the reality is that most work-appropriate shoes don't wrap your tootsies in luxury. This is especially true for ladies--it's a well-known fact that the heels women often wear around the office can throw off your entire posture and lead to serious hip and back pain. And I'm sorry, but I can never be a fan of the bunion feet caused by forcing toes sideways. (Sideways, people.) Ditch the shoes and it's easier to walk the way nature designed. No need for a long foot massage at the end of the day if you're not cramping yourself and instead naturally stimulate pressure points as you go about your business.

3. Improved concentration

In theory, if you're physically feeling better (no pain), it's easier to focus. Enough said.

But what about...

Of course, shoes can be a fabulous avenue for self-expression. Wouldn't giving up shoes mess that up? Not to worry. Instabridge employee Ariel Perez reassures us:

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And like other over-the-top clothing choices, fun socks communicate plenty of positive messages. They tell others you're a creative, independent thinker who's confident and powerful enough to break with convention. So why not?

Then there's the equality issue. Women don't just wear heals at work to look fabulous. They also do it because they want to gain a few inches to be literally on the same level as their male counterparts. It's a subtle way of controlling gender power dynamics. But do you truly need shoes to make you "even"? Mother Theresa, Lady Gaga, Judy Garland, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Corazon Aquino--the list of amazing, short-statured ladies who would say no could go on forever. With fully a quarter of the women in the United States standing less than 5'3", power is a matter of attitude, not footwear. (As a 4'8" little person myself, I'm going to just take a moment right now to appreciate this.)

And last but not least, durability. Walking around in your stockings means they'll wear out in a blink, right? Maybe not. Socks now are being made for athletics that are stronger than steel. There's nothing saying we can't apply that same technology to some fashionable socks that fit flawlessly into work outfits.

So are we decided then?

Untying and slipping out of my shoes in 3...2...1....ahhhhhh.

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