can I go barefoot at work?

A reader writes:

I work in a legal office. I am the assistant but I sit in an open area outside my boss’s office. I wear business casual clothing and shoes. However, my feet get uncomfortable in the shoes. I often take my shoes off and go barefoot. They’re under the desk for the most part, but occasionally people will have to look at my computer. Is it improper to take your shoes off in the office? I’d like to walk from my desk to the copier with no shoes on.

I sympathize because I prefer to live my entire life barefoot.

But in most offices — not all, but the majority — walking around barefoot will come across as way too casual and unprofessional. Also, a lot of people find it gross. (I went looking for data on this and came across a reference to a 2012 survey that found that more than 40% of people feel offended when colleagues take off their shoes at work.)

But under your desk? If no one can see your feet under there, go for it. If someone comes over to look at your computer, though, it’s more polite to slip your shoes back on.

Basically, if anyone is likely to see you at work, stay fully clothed and shod.

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. The Original K.*

    I kick off my shoes under my desk but always put them on when I have to walk anywhere. Walking around an office barefoot is unprofessional, in my opinion, and I’d think particularly so in a legal office.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Same. I don’t get it, but a lot of people are *reaaallly* squeamish about feet. (I expect s bunch of comments on this post to essentially be “ewww!” or similar.) I also would go barefoot all the time if possible – weather permitting! – but I accept that offices aren’t the best place, and content myself with sandals. (You can get away with them if you’re a woman.)

      1. LBG*

        It may be more flexible now, but when I started out, legal offices were way more formal. It was considered inappropriate to wear sandals or even open toed shoes. I still don’t, force of habit. I don’t wear heels anymore, however.

        1. Debster*

          My office is pretty casual, so sandals are allowed. But if it were up to me, I would prefer not to see anyone’s feet. Ever. I have a coworker that walks around barefoot & it looks so unprofessional & grosses me out.

          If you want to take your shoes off while at your desk, that’s fine. But please put your shoes on if you’re going to be walking around the office & talking to people.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Co-signed. It’s ok to have your shoes off if no one can really see your shoes are off (i.e., your desk isn’t structured like a table). But they need to be easily accessible and easy to put back on, and you definitely should not walk around any legal office barefoot. Sorry, OP :(

      1. Classic Rando*

        This reminds me of the opening scene of Roman Holiday, where Audrey Hepburn is standing on a dias in a floor length gown greeting an excessively long line of dignitaries. Between greetings they keep cutting to her feet (hidden beneath the skirt) as she slips one out of her shoes, stretches her ankle a bit, then slips it back on. Eventually she knocks one of the shoes over and can’t get it back on and has to hide it for the rest of the introductions.

        I used to do the same thing when I worked retail, with the same results

      2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        Also want to add that you need to be sure your feet don’t smell when you take off your shoes (which could have a lot to do with the shoes you select for the day and how hot it is, etc.). I totally knew every time a coworker slipped off his summer docksiders. Ugh.

        1. Horrified*

          Hear! Hear! I had a co-worker that would kick off her flats when in her office. If you had to walk in to talk to her, it was best to gulp fresh air in first.

        2. LadyCop*

          Yes! This immediately was my initial rejection to the “shoes off” concept. I have a serious foot condition that I am managing, so walking around barefoot in my own house isn’t even an option…but if I were to see it in an office, I would think it a bit immature (seriously, there are comfortable heels out there!) and honestly, I’ve dealt with the foot-odor co-worker enough times, that I’d rather people be mindful!

        3. Cedrus Libani*

          Could be worse. I once had a supervisor who wore Vibram Five Fingers – same pair, all day, every day, and didn’t clean them. He’d gone nose-blind to it, but the rest of us could smell him from several cubicles away.

          1. Rapunzel*

            I have to agree. My best friend always takes her shoes off when we go out together in the evening (think cinema or pub), but she doesn’t wear socks and it’s usually at the end of a long workday of being on her feet, and they do smell.

            I sometimes take my shoes off too but I’m obsessive about hygiene (OCD; compulsive hand-washer, and weirdly compulsive foot-washer too) and I work from home, so would have washed my feet properly with soap and put on clean socks right before coming out. Plus I wash my shoes in the washing machine regularly.

            I think it is not gross if you are wearing socks and have clean feet.

      3. Anna*

        Mine is structured like a table and I’ll still kick them off for a few minutes at a time.

    3. Blue Anne*

      Yep. My ex used to walk around the tech-startup we worked at in his socks (and, you know, other clothes) and he got some comments on his “funny quirk” even there. In legal, definitely keep your shoes on to walk around.

      1. Plague of frogs*

        I’m surprised. I work in tech and it is quite common to walk around in socks (and other clothes, thanks for clarifying that :)) Even going barefoot doesn’t cause comment. And we’re not even a start-up.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Huh. I’d have said the office I’m in is *really* casual about clothing, but I’ve never seen anyone go barefoot here – the guy who put on flip-flops got razzed for it. By multiple people. “Oooo, going casual.”

          This is, to be clear, an office where cargo shorts and a band t-shirt can pass muster – sometimes at the same time.

          Managers are expected to wear a polo or a button-down with their jeans.

          But flip-flops are marginal and bare feet? Unheard of.

          (For me, the big worry is what else is on the floor / has been on the floor besides my feet, really.)

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            As a man I have switched almost exclusively to slip on shoes for this reason, I kick them off at my desk. But when I leave my office I put my shoes on. Sometimes if I am the only one in the office I will walk to the copier without shoes on, but I am not barefoot I still wearing socks. The only time anyone can see my feet are if we are going to an after work event such as movies/music in the park when I switch into shorts and flip flops from my business casual outfit.

          2. Editrixie*

            I’ve only worked in one office where bare feet were not a cause for comment, and sometimes took advantage of it myself — but that was a now-defunct music magazine, and the dress code amounted pretty much to “Don’t get arrested.” (So did the drug policy, now that I think about it.) It was my favorite job ever, but it did take a little time to readjust to office norms generally after that place.

          3. Plague of frogs*

            Flip-flops are common in my office in the summer. There’s no dress code at all. I thought this was pretty normal for tech; maybe not. One guy works out at lunch and spends the rest of the day in his gym clothes (he’s one of those magical people who never smells bad).

            I can understand the revulsion for the floor, but it’s actually probably a lot less gross than the door knobs and sink that I touch with my hands. I always have to remind myself that I must wash my hands before rubbing my eyes/touching my face, but I am unlikely to unthinkingly rub my eyes with my feet….

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              Apology accepted thank you. Does your coworker wear loose fitting clothes? I used to have a coworker who biked to/from work, he would wear small tight bike shorts. Most of the time he would change right after he came in or before leaving. But sometimes he would get a thought as he was walking in/out and come talk to me right away in said bike shorts that was always awkward for me.

              1. Plague of frogs*

                Thank you.

                Yes, he wore large, loose shorts, so none of that awkwardness. I worry about that a bit–I (female) work out at work in leggings, and I hope it doesn’t make my coworkers uncomfortable when I come through the office afterward. I don’t linger in the office that way. I guess that’s the downside of no rules–I need to be self-policing because it’s not spelled out.

                A few of us bikers do see each other coming out of the locker room, and I remember being a bit startled the first time I ran into male coworker in his bike shorts. I’m used to it now.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  I think short of being naked, just coming in and going directly into your office to change (or the opposite) I don’t think it is awkward. I saw him walking in/out in bike shorts all the time didn’t think anything of it. It was just when he would come into my office to talk. I would often be sitting and he would be standing so that when I would initially look up I would get an eyeful. It happened so occasionally that it wasn’t that big of a deal, I actually find it funny now. I imagine that if it had been a pretty frequent thing that it would have been a different issue. Suffice to say as long as you don’t linger and talk to coworkers in just leggings (I mean just leggings for bottoms) you are fine.

            2. Turquoisecow*

              One of my coworkers used to switch from dress shoes into sneakers and walk at lunch. He would eat a salad or something else brought from home at his desk while working, and actually take the entirety of his lunch hour to walk a pretty long walk.

              However, he never changed back into dress shoes – just kept his sneakers on the rest of the day. This fact annoyed another coworker so much he complained to the rest of us.

              An executive was let go at some point, and I overheard several conversations about her shoes. I’d never noticed, but the consensus among other women in the office was that she had really nice shoes. I relayed this to some of my coworkers and the aforementioned Sneaker Guy commented that he hopes after he was gone, people commented on his shoes.

              It was very hard not to laugh.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                That is funny. Unless said sneaker coworker was going around making everyone smell his sweaty walking shoes I don’t see it really being an issue. What would the other coworker say when he complained?

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        This. Why would you WANT to walk around an office with bare feet?

        If it’s under your desk and people can’t see your feet, then kick ’em off. But if people can see your feet, they need to be in shoes.

        1. CMart*

          My office definitely gets vacuumed WAY more often than my house, ha. But even though I have a toddler who likes distributing her food crumbs far and wide, she’s not in the habit of sprinkling errant staples through the carpet. Unlike my coworkers.

      2. Vicky Austin*

        Plus, if you go barefoot and someone who has foot fungus has been walking barefoot on the same floor, you will wind up with very itchy feet.

    4. Jadelyn*

      I’ve occasionally left my shoes off to run to the printer and back, but only when I’m in on a Saturday and I’m the only one in the back half of the office. Sure, one of the tellers *might* come back at the precise moment that I’m standing barefoot at the printer, but I figure it’s fairly safe.

      But I definitely wouldn’t do it during a normal workday. Our office is casual, but not that casual.

    5. Seriously*

      I once had an intern who walked around the whole company barefoot HER FIRST DAY. That was the first of many conversations about what professionalism means (she also used training interviews with execs to pitch her own ideas, blasted one of our clients by name on her blog, etc.).

        1. Seriously*

          She was so cavalier. None of the feedback conversations made a dent, really. I was so young in my job myself, I didn’t realize that it was best for everyone that she not continue. I kept giving her chances. But yeah, every intern had the assignment to interview top execs to learn about how they got to where they were. She pitched a project idea instead. To all of them. Then, I gave her a project to shadow me on–the client was a friend of the CFO, so it was a little dicey. And she just went on her blog and described how awful the project was and how incompetent the client was and how she hated the whole thing. We let her go early. Last I heard she was working at Starbucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with working at Starbucks, but she’d had two prestigious internships in the industry and blew both of them.

        1. Seriously*

          Nope (see above). It was a good learning experience for me in my very early management experience. I was 23 at the time and needed to realize that sometimes the best learning experience for someone is to be let go when they’re not listening to feedback about verrrryyy problematic behavior.

    6. Janie*

      Co-signed. In the law office where I work, one of the partners will kick off her heels if it’s past 6 pm, and a partner in a prior law firm did something similar, so it isn’t completely unheard of in law. I will occasionally walk to the printer barefoot if it’s the weekend or past 6 and nobody else is around.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Back in the dark ages when I was a paralegal, I used to walk around in my stocking feet (because hose were still required), and one of my attorneys used to give me a hard time about it – until he tried it. A few months later, if it was after 6, he was padding around the office in his socks, too.

        I would never do that where I am now, but I do kick my shoes off under my desk (which NO ONE can see). The problem is that I keep all my work shoes under my desk (commuter shoes on public transit) and have occasionally put a non-matching pair of shoes on, particularly when it’s the flats I liked so much that I bought them in several colors.

    7. GlitsyGus*

      This is my thought too.
      If it makes things a little easier, maybe pick up a cheapish pair of ballet flats or mules to keep at work that are easy to slip on and off for the quick trips to the printer or when someone needs to step behind your desk. I used to have a pair of “office shoes” at an admin job that required a lot of walking and keeping the cute shoes on all day wasn’t always the most comfortable option.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        I”m just realizing I totally assumed the OP was a woman with my response. Apologies! I do think a man could also find a cheapish slip-on sneaker or even a slide or simple sandal to keep at his desk for the same purpose.

        1. Earl Grey Fae*

          Same, probably because only women tend to put up with uncomfortable shoes! I threw away all of my heels this year and I’ve been incredibly happy with the decision. No more bruised feet, weird back pains, or blisters.

      2. Safetykats*

        Yes – if you can’t wear your dress shoes all day, find some shoes you can wear. That’s the right alternative.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I have *different* feet and it’s nearly impossible to find heels that fit right–they’re shaped the opposite of most heels as in triangular The Other Way–so I wore dress oxfords that were very comfortable indeed. If ever asked, I offered a look of blank incomprehension and muttered something about ‘these are what I wore in the Air Force’, and was never bothered again.

    8. Ozma the Grouch*

      Long before I was a professional anything I worked as a cleaning person. I will NEVER be on the side of it being OK for people to go around barefoot in a professional environment. Especially with offices that allow pets nowadays. I cleaned up enough bodily fluid, harmful chemicals, glass, gunk, mystery fluids, and let me re-iterate… bio-hazardous materials on a regular basis, that no one is ever going to convince me that it’s no big deal. There’s a reason kids away at college should always wear flip flops in the communal showers. I’ve actually had a coworker go to urgent care for a tetanus booster because they stepped on an old push pin. And then I gave them the 1:2 about re-thinking their barefoot choices considering the bosses puppy was still being potty trained, was constantly not making it outside, and we only had a cleaning person coming by the office every other week for “deep” cleaning.

      … so for me it has nothing to do with being squeamish about feet.

      1. Ozma the Grouch*

        I should make one caveat… cleaning people can and often are professionals. It just wasn’t my profession. For me it was a job to help me get though college.

    9. PhyllisB*

      What about some soft ballerina slippers or socks that you can wear? Slip off UC shoes and use these for walking around. That would be comfortable and not look unprofessional. Also, why are you wearing shoes that are uncomfortable? (If this is an area where you have to wear a certain type of shoe, ignore.) When you shop for new shoes, find something that feels good so this won’t be a problem. If it were me, I would donate these shoes and buy some more comfortable right now; but I understand finances may not allow that right now.

    10. Mom MD*

      A huge no to walking around any place of business barefoot. Unless it’s a surfing shop. No one wants to look at your feet.

    11. Not Rebee*

      Personally, when I worked a job that required heels every day, I’d sometimes slip my shoes off (usually due to temp not due to comfort) and put on those giant fuzzy socks (the kind with the little rubber grips on the bottom) and walk around our department in those. Not sure if it’s different than barefoot, but I like to think it is (since my feet are covered) and also different from just wandering around in regular socks. These were really the sock equivalent of wandering around in slippers.

  2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    My office is very casual and we rarely get customer visits (and those are always planned), but I think even here, going barefoot would be weird. I’d love to be barefoot all the time as well, but I think most workplaces will expect shoes.

  3. Leslie knope*

    I do take shoes off if I’m wearing flip flops or flats or something since they slip off anyway when I’m sitting down, but I would never wanna go barefoot bc my office carpet/floor is gross!

    1. essEss*

      Unless you’re in a lifeguard station where you need to toss the shoes off quickly, I’m really surprised at any office that allows flip flops to be office attire footwear.

      Most offices I’ve worked at required covered-toe, covered-heel shoes but I know other offices allow more decorative heels and shoes but I’ve never been in one that approved of flip-flops. Most specifically called out flip flops as prohibited in the written dress code policy.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I work in academia and I am currently wearing flip flops. Not the $1 kind from Old Navy, but still flip flops.

        1. Alli525*

          I’m also in academia, although the administrative side (I have seen some professors wear some truly outrageous getups and it’s my favorite part of working at a progressive liberal-arts school), and the bravest I’ve been so far is the Birkenstock thongs/flip-flops. Although I commute in flip-flops sometimes and am currently wearing them at my desk because it’s not 9am yet :)

      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        Mine allows them as long as they are made of leather. We also allow sandals

      3. Jadelyn*

        It depends entirely on the office’s dress code. My office officially prohibits flip-flops, but nobody is going to say anything if you’re wearing dressy-looking thong sandals – it’s more about the cheap rubber ones than about the structure of the shoes.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Our office manual explicitly prohibits thongs, “thongs shall not be worn in the office.” I always like telling new people we can’t wear thongs in the office… 3 second pause then explain it refers to thong sandals. I guess in LA where our main office is thongs are a very common name for sandals/flip-flops but here in the Midwest it almost always refers to undergarments.

          1. Alienor*

            I live around LA and they’re called flip-flops here, BUT when I was a kid living in the South in the 70s, they were universally called thongs. I don’t know if it’s a geographic thing or a generational thing.

            1. Sleeplesskj*

              Probably generational. I grew up in Chicago and we always called them thongs when I was a kid.

            2. Rana*

              I think generational. They were thongs when I was a kid in the 1970s (especially if they were the kind with sturdy cloth straps versus the plastic cheapies). But then thong underwear became popular and people started calling them flip flops.

            3. NotAnotherManager!*

              I grew up in the south in the 80s, and they’ve always been flip-flops. I did grow up in a beach community, though, so maybe that makes a difference?

          2. Ginger*

            I recently sent out a reminder of our dress code policy and changed the wording in our dress code policy from thongs to flip-flops. I don’t think it helped, I still see them every day.

      4. Owlette*

        My boss’s everyday attire is flipflops, an old hoodie, cargo shorts, and a backwards baseball cap. I work in financial services. I’m sitting here is ripped jeans and strappy sandals. My office’s dress code is basically if it’s not pajamas or an offensive graphic tshirt, then you’re fine.

          1. Owlette*

            Haha it’s a trade-off. We have a super casual office and good flextime, but the pay isn’t fantastic and the work can be really hard at times. Not super awesome, but if you like working on taxes then sure!

      5. Just Me*

        My office allows them, but I really wish it didn’t. The flappy noise of coworkers who wear them drive me bonkers! :-)

        1. essEss*

          I’m right there with you. And the walking stride of many people wearing flip flops is an odd sideways leg waddle movement so that the shoes don’t flip off. It looks so unnatural and uncomfortable.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! AARGH! Especially when it’s summertime in a casual office and it’s wall-to-wall Thwack! all day. Shoes should be seen and not heard.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Out of curiosity, do you feel the same way about the click-click-click of heels or the clunk-clunk-clunk of boots?

            I ask because I know I make more noise in my boots than I ever do in my slaps – I figured out a long time ago how to walk quietly in those. You just have to pull back from fully extending your back ankle as you push off that foot – pick the foot up more vertically than rolling it forward. It minimizes or even prevents the slapping sound entirely. But there’s not much you can do to de-clunk walking in boots.

            1. Teddie Kuma*

              Late to the game here, but I’d like to point out it’s less obnoxious to have clacking heels in a carpeted office, whereas you can still hear the thwack of flip-flops even on carpet.

      6. SJM*

        I’m fortunate enough to work in an office where flip flops are totally acceptable, and even the president and vice president may walk around the office barefoot on occasion. Our offices are newer with fresh carpet/flooring, and it’s extremely rare for clients to stop by. I’ve worked in the opposite extreme of total button-up, closed toe heels as well, but it’s so nice to work in an office where we can do as we please, within reason!

      7. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        My current university is pretty casual, so all sorts of sandals are allowed, even flippies. Also I’m in Texas and it seems generally accepted that sandals and sleeveless shirts are okay during the summer. I’ve been alternating between some leather flat sandals and Birkenstocks.

        At school I worked at previously, they were very formal in dress but still allowed sandals when summer came, because it was just so friggin’ hot.

      8. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I am wearing flip flops right now, but honestly? I very rarely do because of the flopping sound, and I think they just look too beach-y. The only reason I’m wearing them now is because I went to get a pedicure at lunchtime. I am super self-conscious every time I get up to do something. I am also wearing a rather summery dress and took my sweater off because our A/C is broken. I am, basically, an example of things I think are Not Great for the office. However, I am glad that I have these options and that I simply choose to dress a little more formally. Usually.

      9. KR*

        I don’t interact in person with customers, managers, or anyone except the UPS guy or the two other people who work here. Currently in Merrill slip on sandals, cut-off shorts, and a tank top. And I work for a huge Organization you have probably heard of if you live in the SE US.

      10. BF50*

        My office definitely allows flip flops. You’ll see the Sr. VP of SomethingMadeUp strolling around in his flip flops with khakis and a button up. My boss just instituted a “Flip flop Friday” policy and when his boss heard, her response was “heck yeah! Count me in.”

        I’m in finance, but I’m sure you guessed we are a tech company.

        Also, geographically, it’s a super casual area. We don’t actually have a dress code at all. But we are adults and flip flops are the least professional attire I personally have seen, though I heard rumors of leggings as pants…

        1. Nerfmobile*

          One of my employees wears athleisure 90% of the time, and is frequently in running leggings as pants. She does wear longer shirts/tunics with them. Of course, we are in tech and “wear clothing” is about the extent of our dress code.

      11. JacqueOfAllTrades*

        I work in a government office, making 6 figures. Currently wearing short, tank top, and flip flops. No one sees me. Every once in a while I have to tell other employees to put on shoes so I don’t have to make a policy about shoes. Wouldn’t go barefoot outside my office though, because we allow dogs.

      12. Libby*

        I would wear them, but it’s always freezing with the AC in the summer and my feet get cold super quickly.

      13. SeuciaV*

        I work for a special office in County Government and we’re pretty casual – flip flops are not out of the norm here in the summer. When we know we’ll be doing client facing work or if we need to go to the bigger offices – like law, finance, or administration – we’ll generally go more dressy and more conservative. But I’m a Director and I’m wearing flip flops right now. Fancy ones, but flip flops nonetheless.

        And I am totally guilty of kicking off my shoes and working barefoot pretty frequently. Like others, I generally won’t walk around without my shoes during the work day, but I’m often the last person here at night so during those times I will throw caution to the wind and walk around barefoot.

        Side note: I get why people might not want their own feet on work floors or carpet (though ours is new so I don’t worry as much) but I’m always baffled when people are wigged out about other people’s feet. Why are feet gross? Why does seeing people’s feet make some people uncomfortable? I’m truly curious because it’s not something that has ever bothered me so I don’t innately understand the issue. (No judgement – I promise! I’m just really curious.)

        That being said, I also worked at a law firm that had fairly casual standards but would never have dreamed of wearing flip flops or going barefoot there. The environment was just too inherently conservative and as a person who likes both of those things, it sucked sometimes. So OP, just know there are many of us who have been in your (uncomfortable) shoes and share your pain. Solidarity!

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I can’t speak for all feet-haters, but with me it’s the fact that so many people don’t take care of their feet and so, when they are exposed, they just look, and often *smell*, gross. I don’t think you have to have a professional pedicure every time you want to wear sandals or go barefoot, but at least clean your feet and clip and file your toenails ffs!

          Clean, non-stinky feet don’t gross me out, but there’s something unsanitary about bare feet on office carpet. At least it’s not a street, or a gas station restroom floor! That *is* gross and unsanitary and dangerous.

        2. Mad Baggins*

          I think it’s a combination of actual gross (as Greyjoy mentioned, many people don’t take good care of their feet and they can get smelly) and psychologically gross, like a freshly washed armpit. Personally I could never be a hairdresser because touching strangers’ hair, especially hair clippings, just squicks me out. It feels both too intimate and unclean, somehow.

          Also many cultures assign a psychological grossness to feet. In Japan it’s weird to use your feet to close a drawer or something, and in Thai temples it’s taboo to sit with your feet facing the Buddha.

        3. SeluciaV*

          Thanks GreyjoyGardens and Mad Baggins! Now I see where you are coming from and that makes sense. Also, MB thanks for those interesting factoids about Japanese and Thail cultures. You really do learn something new every day! :)

      14. PizzaSquared*

        I’ve been in the workforce for over 20 years, all in office jobs, including at least two companies I guarantee everyone here has heard of. And I’ve never worked anywhere that disallowed flip flops. A difference in industry (tech vs. everything else), I guess. I honestly don’t understand the purpose of office dress codes beyond disallowing truly vulgar or offensive stuff, in offices that don’t have client/customer visits.

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      Eh. I purchased nicer $150-$200 range shoes and still find my feet get too hot so I pop them off at my desk.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        ^ agreed, my problem is never that the shoes hurt, it’s that my feet are hot. So I kick the shoes off and put my feet up in my under-the-desk feets hammock, and all is right with the world. Plus, in my desk chair, I can’t actually reach the floor with my toes if I’m high enough up to have proper height to my keyboard, so with the hammock my feet don’t just dangle like a kindergartner.

        (The feet hammock is the best thing I have ever purchased!)

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I’m gonna get one of those hammocks! I’m a shortie and I hate when my feet dangle!

      2. Anon for now*

        Yep. I tend to partially take my shoes off when I am sitting. My toes rest in the heel of the shoe. Super quick and easy to slip back on.

      3. Observer*

        Better usually means a bit more expensive, but more expensive does not necessarily mean better.

        So, that’s the first thing.

        Also, I was thinking more about the shoes being so uncomfortable that the OP wants to walk around barefoot as opposed to slipping the off under the desk.

    2. TCPA*

      I’ve found that Target shoes (especially heels and flats) are comfortable, affordable, and actually last a while if I make sure I wear nylons or thin socks with them! Famous Footwear is another good option for professional shoes.

      1. Curious Cat*

        Yes to Target flats! I practically live in those things and wear them til they die (which, as you note, takes a while ;) )

        1. Clorinda*

          Ha! I absolutely cannot wear any shoes from Target. All Merona shoes, no matter how cute looking, give me blisters. I think LW should shop around and try on a wider variety of shoes until she finds the brands that suit her feet.

      1. Observer*

        I have that problem. Leather – preferably ALL leather, and rotating shoes makes a WORLD of a difference.

        1. Breda*

          This is something I hear all the time, but no, leather doesn’t breathe, or absorb sweat. My feet sweat in real leather shoes exactly as much as fake leather shoes, especially if I’m wearing closed-toe pumps without socks. The only enclosed shoes I wear without socks that don’t make my feet horribly sweaty are made out of canvas.

          High-quality shoes make a big difference in quality of life, yes, but they don’t stop me from occasionally needing to air out my feet under my desk.

          1. Chaordic One*

            I used to work at a place where, if you walked around barefoot and hurt yourself, you’d get written up and a formal complaint would be put in your employment file. Mostly it was people who stepped on staples stuck in the wall-to-wall carpeting in the copy room, but there were also a couple of incidents with people who dropped and broke dishes in the break room and then accidentally stepped on them.

        2. starsaphire*

          Rotating shoes for the win!!! My world changed so much the first time I realized that I could own *more than one* pair of shoes of a particular type at any given time! They really do last longer that way, too, because they get a chance to dry out and air out between wearings.

          My feet were practically destroyed by heels-and-hose office jobs in the 80s and 90s, so I especially appreciate being in tech and wearing jeans & sneakers. And I can match sneakers to my outfits! It’s awesome. :)

          1. OhBehave*

            I can’t wear heels anymore! I used to wear them all the time with hose. I love the look of them but cannot stand to wear now. A wedge is as close to heels as I get. Full support too.

      2. soon 2be former fed*

        Spray your feet with anti-prespirant. I use it under my boobs and it works great.

  4. PizzaDog*

    Find more comfortable shoes – Clarks, Geox, Aerosole, etc. Break them in using bandaids, blister pads, and/or chafing cream (you can get this at running supply stores). Depending on the style of shoe, you can also get away with wearing little popsocks.

    1. Tin Cormorant*

      This. I’d definitely recommend going to Zappos or some other online store with a lot of user reviews, and see which professional-looking shoes have a lot of reviews mentioning comfort. My feet are really picky about shoes and I can’t just buy some that look good on me and hope for the best.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        But comfort of shoes is going to be so dependent on personal factors. I’ve found that those reviews are absolutely meaningless unless they mention having a foot shape similar to mine.

        1. anonykins*

          Yeah, I’d instead recommend going to a good shoe store with experienced employees that can help you find comfort shoes. If you have one near you, Schuler Shoes is excellent for this purpose.

          1. Triplestep*

            Agree. I wrote a review for my favorite local shoe store that is specifically for people with special shoe needs, and has experienced employees. Some of the other reviews complained about their prices. Their prices are good for what they sell and considering the service, so I wanted to defend them. If you don’t have problem feet, then get your shoes at Target or DSW, but to those of us who have issues, this shoe store is gold.

            (I am not disparaging chain stores, but not everyone can find adequate shoes there.)

        2. many bells down*

          Yeah I bought an expensive pair of “the best shoes for people who stand all day!!” according to numerous reviews from nurses and so on. Turned out, my foot really needs a more flexible shoe and these were not it. They threw my stride off so much that my knees and hips were screaming at the end of the day.

          1. WS*

            Yes, and a rigid, thick sole works best for me! Different people, different feet. There’s no one magical shoe that will suit everyone.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      For me, it really has very little to do with the comfort of the shoes. I just don’t like shoes, and would rather been in socks or barefooted most of the time.

      At work, though, unless I’m sitting at my desk and wearing shoes that slide on and off easily, I keep my shoes on. Otherwise, I sometimes do slip them off under the desk – I’m always wearing socks when I do this, though, and I put the shoes back on if I need to get up for anything.

      Once I get home, though, the shoes come off. Often even before I put down my bag and take my coat off. My DH teases me about it – unless he’s sleeping, he always has something on his feet, because his feet need that.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’ve recently discovered the joy of sneakers with functional zippers. They have a zipper sort of at the side that you can use to put them on and take them off quickly – no unnecessary fumbling with shoelaces (after tying them the first time, of course) and doing that weird trying-to-get-in-and-out of tied sneakers thing.

        1. Specialk9*

          There are silicone laces that let you slip shoes on and off without tying. They have little soft Ts to stay in the holes, and are different lengths. Ebay.

      2. PizzaDog*

        I don’t believe in shoes in the house either; people on TV keeping them on drives me nuts.

        1. Rana*

          Absolutely. I grew up wearing shoes in the house as a kid, but now it just seems gross. City walking surfaces are disgusting and I don’t want that in my home.

    3. Phoenix Programmer*

      My feet get hot so comfort and price doesn’t make much difference. It’s just a fact of closed toe dress shoes.

    4. Observer*

      If you need to break in shoes with all f these aids, then they are NOT appropriately comfortable shoes.

      1. PizzaDog*

        Some people just have more sensitive feet than others. Birkenstocks have given me blisters before.

        1. Observer*

          No. Some people just have more oddly shaped feet. (I’m one of them.) But a shoe should never need to be broken in. And, it’s true that even a generally comfortable brand won’t work for everyone. Mostly because it’s almost impossible to make a shoe that is going to fit EVERY person and type.

          1. Joielle*

            This is hilarious to me because every pair of shoes I’ve ever owned has required a breaking in period. Everything from Birkenstocks and Clarks to my standby Kate Spades to a deeply discounted pair of Jimmy Choos. You’re lucky if the style of shoes you like works perfectly on your feet!

    5. SeuciaV*

      Wanting to go barefoot isn’t always about shoes being uncomfortable or cheap or a bad fit. I have chronic lower back issues and so the bulk of my shoes are VERY expensive and often have custom orthotics to help alleviate pain/pressure/stress. The shoes themselves are very comfortable! (And are worth every penny) I just happen prefer my feet bare and breathing so I like to be able to take my shoes off to be personally comfortable, not to alleviate specific foot pain.

    6. GreyjoyGardens*

      I second this! I would add, get measured if you can (find an athletic shoe store or someplace like Nordstrom will also measure your feet if you ask). I am an *extra* wide (thanks, peasant ancestors!) and finding out that shoes do not, in fact, have to squeeze my feet like a vise was a revelation. Sadly, that means there are a lot of cute shoes that I can’t wear (so many really adorable shoes are “medium” only. Sadface). But there is enough of a selection in the office-casual shoes that I usually wear (Clarks, Sofft, etc.) that it’s not a big deal.

    7. Chaordic One*

      In years past I’d had good luck at Nordstrom stores, but they don’t seem to carry as many shoes in hard-to-find sizes anymore which kind of sucks.

      Most of the online shoe websites now include a listing that says something like “fits true to size” and below that they have statements like, “runs small, we recommend ordering one size larger than your usual size,” or “runs wide, if you usually wear a medium width, we recommend ordering a narrow,” which I find helpful.

      I’ve also noticed that the website for New Balance shoes will say which particular “last” the shoe was designed around. If you’ve had good luck with a shoe designed around a particular last, then other shoes designed around the same last will probably fit well, too. (Of course New Balance only makes casual sneaker/running shoe kind of things.)

  5. shep*

    I’m usually barefoot in my office. I have an adjustable standing desk with an antifatigue mat, and sometimes I just can’t hack shoes on the mat. Something about the squishiness that works so well barefoot seems to really mess with my ankles if I have shoes on while standing at the desk. That said, I don’t get a lot of visitors and I’m always quick to kick some shoes on if someone does drop in unexpectedly. It’s a little embarrassing to scramble for my shoes, but no one has ever seemed to mind.

    1. shep*

      Should amend this to say “I’m usually barefoot in my PRIVATE office, with my door partially closed.” Not barefoot in the greater office area.

  6. loslothluin*

    Personally, I don’t care. I stay barefoot at home but not at the office. The attorneys will go barefoot up here, though. One of the partners at my firm was going to fuss at me for not being in heels, and I just said that it was impossible to water a Christmas tree while wearing 3” heels.

    1. Rena*

      Wait, they were going to fuss at you for not wearing heels while others in the office are going barefoot? What kind of crazy double standard is that?

    2. Michaela Westen*

      If they require women to wear high heels, they’re asking for lawsuit and disability claim!

  7. The Other Dawn*

    I’d say if you could keep a pair of slipons under the desk for when you get up and walk away, that would be better than going barefoot. The only time I ever went barefoot was when I was working behind a teller line at the bank, because the teller line was completely enclosed and no one could see our feet unless they came behind the counter.

    1. Karyn*

      This! I would wear heels occasionally at work, but I kept a pair of ballet flats under my desk to put on if I had to walk halfway around creation to get somewhere. Better than barefoot but still not painful.

      That said, if your feet are under your desk, nobody will know or care if you have shoes on.

    2. nnn*

      Exactly what I came to post. You could even get a pair of those ballet flats that are practically slippers, so you feel like you’re walking around the office in stocking feet but look like you’re wearing shoes.

    3. EB*

      Yep! I think it’s less the quality of the shoes here and more how you can stay comfortable but still professional– in this case I think it’s more about finding a couple slip-on shoes that fit the bill. My feet sweat in shoes unless I’m wearing socks, which means work-appropriate shoes I can slip off easily when I’m at my desk for long periods. And slip on quickly for brief runs to the printer and back.

    4. tusky*

      Good idea. When I lived in the midwest, I started keeping a pair of slip on flats in my office so I could change out of wet/snowy shoes in the winter, but it quickly became a regular habit.

  8. Audiophile*

    Personally, I’ve stepped on or in too many things around my own house, that I rarely go barefoot.

    I wouldn’t say I personally get offended when someone kicks their shoes off at work, but I’ve found a lot of people forget to put them back on and that can be problematic.

    1. Decima Dewey*

      There’s too much that could be lurking in industrial level loop carpeting. Discarded staples, pins, thumbtacks, etc.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        Loop carpeting… now I get it! So it’s common somewhere in the world to have carpets in offices? Around here I’ve never seen carpets in offices, except maybe near the front door to clean the shoes, and the kind of carpet that is attached to the floor is extremely rare pretty much anywhere except some hotels. We north Europeans find them too hard to clean. Office floors are typically made of a smooth and hard material that feels very cold so at first I couldn’t understand at all why someone would want to walk barefoot at work!

        1. Silicon Valley Girl*

          So many industrial carpeted floors in my area of the world — keeps the noise down vs. hard tile / wood, & we’re all in open-plan offices here in high-techville, so any tiny thing to buffer noise helps.

            1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

              Or its equivalent for restaurants. I’m sick of how LOUD they are now.

        2. not so sweet*

          I would say that “fancy” or “newer” buildings usually have lower-pile carpeting in office areas, here in Canada. In a university, main hallways, labs, and classrooms always have washable hard floors, but individual faculty offices and sometimes the small corridors leading to those offices typically have sturdy smoothish carpeting. I currently work in an office building with tile in the foyer and bathrooms, but each company’s offices having wall-to-wall carpet except for the kitchens/breakrooms. And I’m wearing flipflops. I do sometimes kick them off under my enclosed desk, but put them back on to walk to the photocopier.

  9. CatCat*

    I take them off under my desk all the time, but would never walk around the office without shoes. How casual is your biz casual? If open toes are allowed, you can do nice sandals instead of shoes (though if you’re a guy… I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guy where sandals at the office or if there are even dressier men’s sandals).

    Also, maybe go to a shoe department and have your feet measure and have someone trained get you fitted for a shoe you might find more comfortable. I have discovered my feet have actually changed as I’ve gotten older and I need different shoes.

      1. Tardigrade*

        I do feel sympathy for men here. They mostly can’t wear sandals at work like women can.

      2. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

        I kind of adore those sandals! I want them in all the colours they have.

        However, I am a woman, and would wear them with sundresses, so that probably changes things!

      3. Lora*

        I kind of suspect I know someone who wears these, with Armani swimwear for men.

        Googling Armani men’s swimwear is definitely NSFW. Also, it will haunt your nightmares.

      4. nosy nellie*

        let me tell you, go to one nigerian/african wedding, and those are ALL the rage. My dad has like at least 6 of those types of sandals, in various colors and leather types lol.

  10. ArtsNerd*

    I basically have to slip off my shoes at my desk because, for whatever reason (ergonomics probably), I need to pull my feet up onto my desk chair to be able to sit for any length of time. I try to be discreet about it, but it’s quite the scramble in the winter when a coworker asks me to come over to see something.

    I have walked to the copier before barefoot, and I used to walk around my old office in socks, but only when I was absolutely alone. Not around any colleagues at all.

    1. Kim, aka Ranavain*

      Same, I am just fidgety and I end up sitting on my feet or pulling up my legs in various ways, so I tend to kick my shoes off. I don’t have a problem with people being barefoot, it’s weird to me that so many people are squeamish about it, but it is what it is! I do think socks is fine if it’s a casual office, since you’re feet are still covered, but maybe take a read from others on that…

    2. Admin of Sys*

      I’ve walked to the printer w/out shoes on when other folks were in the office, but it’s reserved for days where I hit 36 hours by Wednesday. Generally, it’s not professional at all, but there’s a point where I feel like, if I’m basically having to live in the office, they can deal with me not having shoes on. (though only if I have socks or stockings – actual naked feet on the office carpet would be gross, I don’t think it’s been steam cleaned in the last decade)

    3. Ali G*

      Yup, I’ m so short that any chair/desk set up is only comfortable for so long before I end up sitting on my feet. I kept a pair of slip on crocs (not the clogs – a black flat) under my desk for trips to the bathroom, standing, or when colleagues would come in if I didn’t want to/couldn’t put my “real” shoes on in time.

      1. shoes*

        I’m glad to see that so many people do this. For some reason I just cannot sit comfortably in a chair without sitting on my fee so I do it at work too, but I always thought I was a bit weird. I sit in such a way that no one can see my feet at all, and I’m behind my desk anyways so no one should care.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      I do the same – either I slouch or I sit cross-legged if I’m sitting for any length of time. I typically wear ankle boots under pants and they’re annoying to slip on and off. My (old and worn) office chair fabric ripped along the front edge right where my boot heel hits it. :(

    5. banana&tanger*

      I’m so glad others do this. I simply cannot sit with my feet on the floor for any extended period. When I started my current job, they offered what seemed like the standard ergonomic eval. Except when I told him that I was going to end up sitting on my feet, he helped me adjust my chair and desk for that. So much better. I also almost always sit with a blanket on my lap. Makes me feel slightly less obviously informal – aka that I’m not sitting “like a lady.” But I do sometimes forget to put my shoes on when going to the printer. I keep slip ons in the office but it doesn’t always happen.

    6. Aerin*

      Someone told me this was an ADHD thing and it was like a damn lightbulb, because I have never ever ever been able to sit normally in a chair. If I wore heels and kept them on I’d be impaling my thighs. It’s the same reason I can’t wear pencil skirts.

      I generally live in LifeStride ballet flats. They slip off easily under my desk and back on when I need to get up. It’s trickier when I wear different shoes, especially boots in the winter, but I still put them back on whenever I have to go to the break room or bathroom. (It never occurred to me before to keep a separate pair of office shoes, but I’m definitely going to do that now.) Sometimes when I’m here alone on weekends I won’t be bothered to put the shoes back on, or if it’s late on a weekday and I don’t think I’ll run into anyone.

  11. JM*

    There is a very active Facebook advocacy group called BAREFOOT IS LEGAL that would have strong feelings about this conversation! I encourage folks to look it up on their own for a window into a bit of a different world :)

    I personally love being barefoot in life, but echo the opinion that even in casual offices, seeing a coworker walk around barefoot would feel unprofessional and out of place.

    1. many bells down*

      My husband works in videogames and they’ve got a dude in their office who is barefoot 100% of the time. “Professional” is a veeeeery different thing in that industry.

      1. AnonMurphy*

        I’m in software development and corporate had to crack down on the programmers walking around barefoot. One of my manager peers has those shoes with the individual toes, and he still wears them occasionally. I will go barefoot at my desk but not to walk out (unless we’re doing an after hours hackathon, then we’re drinking beer and no one cares)

    2. fieldpoppy*

      I met a guy a few years ago who was doing a “big year” in birding (i.e., doing nothing but birding and trying to see all the birds in north america) and he was doing it barefoot. I met him in Texas in a time that was cold in the rest of the US but I am pretty sure he followed the birds wherever they were. Some people have their passions all right.

  12. Cat*

    Sorry, OP, but you sit in a public area. You need to keep your shoes on all the time. Those of us in offices with desks where no one can see our feet do have the privilege of slipping shoes off… only if they can be slipped back on IMMEDIATELY if someone comes in. I had a bit of a Roman Holiday moment once when I “lost” a shoe under my desk (a high heel that had fallen over and couldn’t be retrieved quickly) — whoops!

  13. Justme, The OG*

    I have gone barefoot at work, but only times when my shoes were soaked by rain on the way inside. And then I will be wearing socks (I keep spare socks in my desk but not shoes). But when my shoes are dry again I will put them back on.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I did it once when I mistakenly wore slip-on heels that were so uncomfortable that by the time I got to work from the bus stop I could barely walk. By mid-afternoon I was walking to the printer in my tights (and, you know, other clothes). But we’re a small office and no one even saw me. If they had I would have explained and everyone would have understood.

      Other than emergencies like that and Justme’s, though, I think shoes should be worn at all times in an office unless it’s one of those ultra casual places mentioned by other commenters. Or if no one can see your feet.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      You might want to keep a pair of shoes there. Beginning around 2010 we started getting heavy soaking rains where I live and my leather boots took days to dry! Just today one of my colleagues got soaked through coming to work.
      I got a poncho and I use waterproof spray on boots and hat, and I never needed these before 2010.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        P.S. – you could bring an old pair that’s nearly worn out, and they’ll last a few more years in your office. I’ve done it. :)

  14. biff welly*

    Okay – I just have to share an amusing (in hindsight) story here.

    I was doing a presentation as part of an interview for a potential training position with a bank. I felt good about the presentation etc. I don’t normally wear heels but as it was an interview, I stepped up the style game. However, I didn’t anticipate having to walk a decent distance from parking to the location. By the time I got there and got to the room where my presentation was happening, my calf was spasming. The panel was behind a large conference table and I was in front of it – so I discreetly (so I thought) slipped off my shoes for the duration of the presentation. The size of the room I thought they couldnt see.

    It was only after when I did not get selected, but did receive some good feedback from the hiring manager that she mentioned the shoe thing. Totally mortified! But, now I can laugh and if I had to do it again I would have suffered through or sat down briefly to gather myself. Lesson learned :)

  15. Nosey Posey*

    Not a huge fan the few times people have done this in the office because of the smell. It can be rather unpleasant and waft through the office. I once thought someone threw a bana away but turns out it was their feet that smelled.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Oh yeah, this.

      If you can either wash your feet or spray an anti bacterial/odor spray to cut the stench, stinky feet need to stay in shoes.

      1. Lora*

        “If it wisnae fur yer wellies, where would ya be?
        You’d be in the hospital or in-fir-mareee
        Fur you would have a dose a da’ flu or even pleuriseeeeeeyyyy
        If it wisnae fur yer feet in yer wellies!

        Oh wellies they are wonderful
        wellies they are swell
        For they keep out the watter
        and they keep in the smell.
        When yer sittin in a room
        You kin always tell
        When some bugger take off thur weeeeeellies!”
        -Billy Connolly

    2. many bells down*

      There was like a 2-year span in my early 20’s where my feet just smelled like DEATH all the time. No matter what I wore, unless I’d just washed them they were deadly. I guess it was hormones or something, because I eventually outgrew it.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Ugh, yes, I’ve had that. A friend in middle school had it and it was just awful. Now my feet are just run-of-the-mill stinky.

      2. PhyllisB*

        My son had this problem. When we would go on a trip and he took his shoes off, everybody in the car would say, “Put your shoes back on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    3. okie dokie*

      I used to work with one lady who was extremely well put together and one of the smartest people I ever worked with. But in the summer she wore the same pair of sandals every day with bare feet in them. They reeked. I don’t think she realized her office reeked of smelly feet.

      1. TootsNYC*

        you absolutely need to let them dry out–that’s why rotating shoes is important.

        My son’s summer sneakers were awful–we got one of those Peet shoe/boot dryers, and that took care of it, actually.

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      Ew. That’s another strike against taking off shoes in the office. Foot powder, like Lush’s T for Toes, is great – but definitely step up the foot-hygiene game if you’re in an office where bare feet or sandals are OK. (And rotate your shoes because that gives them a chance to air out between wearings.)

  16. Admin Amber*

    Try a pair of moccasins. I recently treated myself to a pair of Minnetonka Moccasins and they are so comfy and go with business casual outfits well.

  17. Murphy*

    I hear you. I’m not a shoe person either. (I actually really hate socks, but in general I’d rather be barefoot.) I agree with Alison though.

  18. Lady Phoenix*

    Under your desk? Perfectly fine.

    Anywhere else? Put your shoes on. Unless this is a clothing/shoe/fashion/Cosmetic/health job where people need to see feet, walking around the office barefoot is highly unprofessional.

    Use to like being barefoot… until I stepped on a bee, stepped on rocks, stepped on a “monkeyball” (those weird round seeds with spikes), and the one time I get a splinter in my foot and took hours to get it out.

    … yeah… Slippers or Shoes from now on.

  19. Strawmeatloaf*

    I go barefoot whenever I can around my house. After a few minutes I keep remembering why I don’t do that after I’ve stubbed my 5th toe. I would say under the desk is okay. I know I take my shoes off sometimes if they’re really bothering my feet (boots for example that don’t allow me to bend my foot always start bothering me after a while). But otherwise I would where your shoes. Besides, you probably don’t know when the last time the floor was cleaned was.

  20. Samiratou*

    *Looks down at bare feet peeking out from under my keyboard desk.*

    I guess I’m on #teambarefoot, as long as your feet are under your desk and the front of your desk is covered. I sit facing the corner of my cube wall, so you’d have to work pretty hard to see them.

    I also wouldn’t remove both shoes and socks, just slip off the shoes if my feet get warm or whatever.

    1. Future Homesteader*


      I absolutely shouldn’t be barefoot at work (I sit behind a big, closed, desk and a nice wall, but in a fairly public office), but because of my height, the most comfortable way to sit at my desk is actually criss-cross applesauce in my computer chair. I keep my shoes (which are always sandals or slip-ons) immediately beneath my feet and put them on if anyone comes by or if I have to get up. I’ve definitely had some awkward moments where I couldn’t find them and needed to greet someone, but I try to just talk to them from behind the wall until I can sort it out.

      For what it’s worth, I do this a lot less when the office is busy and/or when my boss is around, because although she would never say anything, I doubt she approves. But during quiet times? No shoes, baby!

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I am another criss-cross applesauce chair sitter. And if not sitting as such, my feet go in their hammock.

          Otherwise my legs fall asleep because my feet are dangling. One of the daily occurrences of being short!

      1. Cornflower Blue*

        Yeah, I also always sit cross-legged (had to look up criss-cross applesauce, I now know another cute bit of American slang yay) when I’m at a desk chair. That means both at office and home!

        At home, shoes come off as soon as you’re past the doorway. I didn’t even know it was a THING to wear shoes inside the house until I started hanging out at AAM. Cultural background: South Asian raised in Europe so shoes inside a house are a murder-worthy offense but people keep slippers for guests to wear if they want.

        At work, I kick off my sandals as soon as I’m at my desk but slip them back on if I need to walk anywhere. It’s so hot here that most women wear sandals though some wear closed toe shoes occasionally. My feet just feel better when they aren’t squished into anything since they’re fairly wide and I flat-out can’t wear most women’s closed toe shoes because they narrow at the point and my feet don’t.

  21. NCKat*

    Many years ago, someone at my OldOffice kicked off their shoes and went barefoot down the hall to the file room, where they promptly stepped on a staple embedded in the carpet. She had to go to the ER and get a tetanus shot before they let her come back to work. No more bare feet after that.

    Another employee would kick off her shoes and slip on her bedroom slippers. You could hear the slap-slap of her slippers as she shlepped down the aisle to the bathroom. She hollered when her manager requested she take her slippers home permanently.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Several years ago I used rental ski boots and they rubbed my bunion raw. I couldn’t bear to wear any shoes, and it was winter. I wore some bedroom slippers that had been given to my spouse: nearly twice as long as my feet, suede leather and fuzzy insides. It was the only thing I could bear, because they were so roomy. I kept my feet under the desk, avoided walking around, because I knew how unprofessional it looked.

      1. Alica*

        After I had an ingrown toenail operated on, I ended up living in a pair of slippers that someone had gifted to my mum – a size bigger, fluffy bright blue slipper boots! I could just about stand to wear regular shoes to get to work (via train, I started taking the earlier stopping train so I could get a seat) as it was November, but they were my trainers so still not great. Luckily my boss was okay with me wearing the slippers in the office, and it was a contained office so feet were mostly hidden. If she’d baulked I’d have probably tried to get a pair in black, as it was the colour that gave them away so badly.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      When I worked in a small business my colleague kept slippers in the office and would wear them on snowy days. Take off the snow boots, put on the slippers. It was just us, we rarely had visitors.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Yet another reason to keep those tetanus shots up to date! I always do because we spend time at the local Renaissance Festival. Which has both lots of pointy stuff (including some benches and fences that may not be in the greatest repair) and horses. So, yeah…definitely making sure that tetanus booster is current!

      1. Avalon Angel*

        I am allergic to the tetanus shot (it nearly killed me as a child), so I grew up with a mother who was extremely paranoid about even the very idea of my being barefoot.

    2. Natalie*

      I don’t think a standard little office staple would break the skin if you stepped on it. The soles of your feet are pretty tough.

      Now, if you somehow managed to staple your foot…

      1. NCKat*

        It wasn’t just any lil’ol’staple – it was one of those heavy-duty giant ones used to fasten 40 pages or more.

  22. more anon for this*

    This kills me in my office. It is simply not safe in our workspace to walk around without shoes and it took us MONTHS to stop one particular person from doing so (partners hold a huge double standard for this person vs others who are lectured if they wear jeans except on Fridays) – she would go to the bathroom in bare feet/hose even, which is a shared bathroom outside the office, on the floor with several other offices! Now she just scuffs around in house slippers which drives me bonkers too. She could wear literally any type of shoe that was comfortable but always did this.

    1. michelenyc*

      My comment below belonged here. My last office people wore slippers and it was so weird to me. The funniest part is the president actually sent an e-mail out to everyone that our Chinese partners would be in town for a meeting and told everyone they had to wear shoes. So weird that he had to tell adult professionals to wear shoes.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        I wear slippers in the winter! I know it’s not super professional (even though our office is definitely business cas). For some reason my toes just get super cold and slippers help warm them up.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I am picturing the Shoeless Wonder working at the same office as the Pee Bandit now.

      This is why everyone wears shower shoes in college dorms and gyms. Well, that and fungus.

  23. Lobbyist*

    So glad OP you wrote in rather than going shoe-less at work.
    Someone who has had to tell people you have to wear shoes at work.

  24. Guacamole Bob*

    I think you’re in good company when it comes to kicking shoes off under your desk:

    “Jan Crawford Greenburg, an ABC News correspondent who covers the court, posted a startling item last week on her blog, Legalities. Under the heading “Faith and Frailty,” she wrote that the “real drama” of an argument concerning the Bush administration’s religion-based initiative came when the argument ended.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s delay in getting to her feet and leaving the bench, Ms. Greenburg wrote, seemed a sign of possible ill health and “made me think I’d better start pulling those possible retirement files together.”

    The alarming item quickly made its way around the blogosphere, puzzling court insiders who know that Justice Ginsburg, 73, is in fine health and keeps to a schedule that would exhaust most people who are decades younger. When the term ends this summer, for example, she is scheduled to go to Paris with Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kennedy and Justice Stephen G. Breyer for meetings with judges of French and other European courts.

    The explanation is, quite literally, pedestrian. According to her chambers, Justice Ginsburg had kicked off her shoes during the argument and could not find one of them.”

    1. TootsNYC*

      shitty journalism, though

      Do some damned research before you speculate. You have time; it’s your job!

    2. MJ*

      This is delightful and I thank you for posting it.

      (I work from home and going barefoot all spring/summer/fall is a bigger perk than I ever realized.)

  25. Anon Today*

    I had a former co-worker who used to walk around barefoot. She lasted less than a year. She couldn’t seem to grasp that in an organization that had a business dress code (men were required to wear ties) that running around the office without shoes would be frowned upon. She wasn’t fired because she didn’t wear shoes, but it was just a symptom of a larger issue.

    1. Observer*

      The office still requires ties? Yeah, totally tone deaf. I can imagine that it was a symptom of a bigger problem.

  26. JHunz*

    I’m in a casual office but I’d still never walk around barefoot. I did, however, bring a pair of slippers to work and I walk around in those all day.

  27. Former call centre worker*

    I can see some health & safety issues with going barefoot in the office (eg stray pins or staples, other people’s feet, people pushing back on their desk chairs) and it wouldn’t surprise me if your office didn’t allow it for that reason (although maybe the US is more lax about H&S than the UK?).

    I’m in the ‘shoes off under the desk’ camp. This seems to be common enough that even if someone does see that you have your shoes off, while they may find it gross chances are they have seen enough other people do it that they won’t think it’s *weird*.

    1. CTT*

      I can’t speak for the US generally, but since this is a legal office, I feel like if there any attorneys who do worker’s comp or personal injury, they would only see potential liability if they saw a barefoot employee. (When I was a paralegal a huge bookshelf broke – no one was hurt or even near it when it happened, but immediately there were two labor and employment attorneys around warning everyone to stay away. I think they were imagining every worst case scenario from the cases they had worked on.)

    2. Random Obsessions*

      Same for Canada re: health and safety
      Even taking your shoes off might violate some health and safety codes because it theoretically increases the amount of time a person will need before they can respond to a situation where they need to leave, etc.
      The amount of time may be negligible in the grand scheme of things but if people in charge of health and safety hear about it you or your company face a dressing down (verbal or financial).
      Best solution would be to save your fancy shoes for walking into the office and change into nice slip on, comfy shoes once you’re at your desk.

  28. DCompliance*

    I had a co-worker who, in meetings, would take off her shoes and start playing with her toes.
    She was asked to stop.
    The end.

    1. The Original K.*

      I had a colleague who kicked off his shoes in a meeting and put his feet up on the table. He had HIDEOUS feet, too – long yellow toenails, corns, inches of scaly dead skin, etc. Nobody said anything at first until his boss, who was running the meeting, said “ … Are you crazy?” (Boss was literally agog.) Colleague never did it again. Rumor was he got read for filth after the meeting too.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        EWWW! This kind of person is why so many people think feet are gross! I would never, ever be able to unsee that or think of him as anyone but “Fergus, with the manky feet” from then on.

    2. Kuododi*

      I was on an interview to join a group practice. The managing partner took off his shoes and socks then began playing with his toes!!!! This guy had started and managed a large counseling practice and was playing with his barea** toes during my interview to join his group. Needless to say I took a different job offer….that situation skeeved me out.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Were you interviewed by an actual baby? Because once you’re too old for “This Little Piggy” you’re too old to play with your toes. Especially in public! Double especially in a job interview.

  29. Mrs. Wednesday*

    Yeah, I’m a definite yes on wearing shoes in the workplace. It’s a safety thing, as minor as you may consider the risks. Shoes protect your feet from preventable injury and please believe me when I say stepping on a couple of staples can be very painful. I’m not saying you have to wear the sturdy shoes of a lab technician but the principle is the same: safety first. It has nothing to do with whatever “professional attire” means.

    I have a lot of trouble physically getting and keeping shoes on my feet, plus I wear braces. My favorite current brand is Keens, and while they’re not as good as they used to be, Josef Seibel is still pretty great. Clarks, too. None of these have required any break-in period and all last a long time. Despite what our culture tells women, shoes should NOT hurt your feet or damage them.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Clarks are so good. It’s like they send someone into my bedroom at night and take molds off my feet for their lasts. (That’s a shoe-making thing, the last.)

      Anyway, I can buy Clark’s *mail-order* and trust them to fit and be comfortable. I first had them when I had to fly a lot right after 9/11 and they were newly making us take off our shoes, but I needed to be business-ready when I got off the plane, and I got some dressy clogs. Since then I’ve had several pair and talk them up to others. (NB I only wear flats, so I can’t speak to their heels, but I’d still feel comfortable recommending them.)

  30. okie dokie*

    Get some really easy to slip on and off shoes – like Rothy’s – they can slip on and off in a second without having to reach down. As long as no one can see it (and they aren’t smelly) what your feet do under your desk is your business :) Never ever ever walk around barefoot though.

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      I have a pair of Rothy’s that I call my office slippers. They are definitely real shoes, they’re closed toe, and they look professional enough that I get compliments when I wear them. And they can be folded up and tossed in a drawer when I’m not wearing them.

  31. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Fellow person often going barefoot here! I find it’s better for my messed-up ankle, but mostly I’m barefoot because I get hot easily and going barefoot helps reduce that. On hot days I even find sandals or flipflops to be too hot (because the sole just sort of radiates my own body heat back at me) so at home I’ll usually be barefoot. In public though…I’ll just deal with it.

  32. LBG*

    In the gross category, I work with scientists. One came to my office in shorts and sandals. I couldn’t see his feet, but the receptionist got a good look. Once he left, she immediately came to my office to comment on how disgusting his feet were. She went on and on about him needing a pedi. So, if you get caught barefoot, just be aware that people will judge.

    1. okie dokie*

      Ugh sandals and flip flops with icky foot maintenance is as bad/worse than barefoot.

    2. michelenyc*

      I worked with a guy that would take his shoes off at work and walk around in his socks. On top of that he would use the mens room while just wearing socks. So nasty!

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      Haha. I judge. I judge HARD. I hate unkempt feet. No, you don’t have to get a professional pedicure, but your feet should look clean and cared for. No dagger-like or raggedy toenails, no dead skin, no dirt, no toe jam.

  33. I Herd the Cats*

    As someone who has kicked my shoes off under my desk but can put them back on like a shoe ninja, I salute this entire conversational thread. I had no idea so many other people did this! Love the barefoot bank teller.

    Please, can we turn this into one of those ultra-heated arguments about whether it’s okay to ask/tell guests to take their shoes off at your house?

    1. Amber T*

      House rules are house rules (I request guests to take their shoes off – I never have fancy enough parties where shoes *need* to be part of the outfit).

      I, too, am a barefoot shoe ninja :)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Since it’s common in Germany to remove shoes when visiting somebody’s home, guest slippers are usually provided (they look like fabric versions of the towel slippers you get in posh hotels).

        Although I was once visiting somebody. I had been to her house before and not been asked to remove shoes. On this occasion she asked me to take my shoes off. I thought that was odd, but then she didn’t ask all the other people she had invited, so it looked a bit strange I was the only one in guest slippers.

        But back on topic. No, I don’t want to see people’s bare feet at work.

        1. The Original K.*

          I have a book club friend from Germany & hers is a shoeless house, though she doesn’t provide slippers. I am always barefoot/in socks at my own home so it doesn’t bother me to take off shoes in other peoples’ homes. I take my cue from them -if there are shoes lined up at the front door when I walk in, I take mine off.

      2. MissingArizona*

        I tell people to keep their shoes on, I already have to sweep everyday cause of dog, so it’s not a big deal. No shoes upstairs though, I hate vacuuming stairs.

      3. Breda*

        My shoes may not be a necessary part of the outfit, but oh man the parties I have been to where I didn’t realize I needed to make my socks part of the outfit. :/ Enjoy the faded pink ankle socks with a hole in the toe, everyone, I didn’t think you’d see them!

        1. Courageous cat*

          Yes, I hate this. It makes me unreasonably angry. I know it’s their house, but like… just let your guests be comfortable and stop acting like germs are the end of the world :|

        2. Jule*

          Yep. I realize there are cultural differences with this, but if you’re in an area where it’s NOT the norm to take shoes off automatically and you need them to do so, the best thing to do is to let people know in advance.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            Yes, please to telling people in advance! I have a nerve issue that gets worse every year, and nothing is worse than having to make a snap decision at someone’s door whether to just awkwardly leave or accept the hours of lying in bed unable to sleep from the shooting pain in my leg if I don’t have arch support.

            1. Cornflower Blue*

              It wouldn’t even OCCUR to me to tell people to remove their shoes at the door/warn them in advance, it’s such an ingrained cultural thing here that it would be like warning them “don’t juggle the dog”.

              That said, if you said you needed arch support for your foot, I’d be fine with you wearing your shoes since that’s an actual medical reason as opposed to you not caring that I always go barefoot in my house and like to keep the clean floor.

              It’s the same deal as wheelchair users – sure, their chair wheels might track dirt/germs/poop into my house, but it’s a medical necessity, I can’t ask them to go without it and it would be a jerk move to do so. It is going to be a pain for me to wash and disinfect the floor but that’s less of a pain that for you.

              (Caveat: I’m diabetic, my grandfather had to get his foot AMPUTATED because he got an injury that he didn’t notice (because nerve damage means he didn’t feel it), my mother wears special protective slippers inside the house and if your shoes track something in that could injure me or infect a wound, then I’m in serious trouble. So in my case it’s the cultural narrative that says REMOVE YOUR SHOES, ONLY BARBARIANS WEAR SHOES INSIDE HOMES but also medical advice re: be careful of your feetsies!)

      4. DCompliance*

        I prefer my guests to keep their shoes on. I would rather clean up then dirt than….see and smell certain people’s feet.

    2. lurker bee*

      I love being from a place where it is a cultural expectation that footwear comes off at the door! (And yes, I’ve asked people to remove their shoes. Explaining that it is tradition in Hawaii smooths the request.)

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        According to my sister, everyone in Hawaii wears slippers … which is to say, flip-flops.

        Me, I tend to have cold toes AND I hate shoes indoors so I wear slippers approximately full-time in my house. (It’s not because of dirt or anything. I hate wearing a brassiere at home also.)

  34. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    Yes, but only if your job involves carrying a whistle and yelling at kids to stop doing cannonballs into the deep end.

  35. Master Bean Counter*

    People go barefoot in my office all of the time. I really don’t care most of the time. But if you come into my office barefoot and stub your toe, because you don’t have shoes on, I’m going to give you a hard time about it. Repeatedly.

    But seriously, it can be a real work-place hazard. Make sure you have a pair of comfortable flats you can slip on to walk around.

  36. Just Me*

    We had one co-worker would go barefoot in the office until she stepped on a pulled up staple someone dropped. I haven’t seen her in barefoot since. I am almost always barefoot at home but never in the office – I just don’t know what has been embedded or dropped on the carpet.

    1. Decima Dewey*

      Now I’m thinking of the Walter Brennan’s repeated line in “To Have and Have Not”: “Have you ever been stung by a dead bee?”

      Just me? Okay.

      1. You're Not My Supervisor*

        It was “Have you ever been bit by a dead bee” ;) I think of it often

  37. Erin*

    We have a female colleague who walks around barefoot. Most people think it’s weird and repulsive. Plus those floors are gross.

  38. Who the eff is Hank?*

    My boss, the director of our nonprofit, walks around the office barefoot. He refuses to wear anything less than a three piece suit, but almost never wears shoes. At least he matches his socks to his suit.

    1. LSP*

      Is he still wearing socks? That’s weird, but it’s not really the same as walking around barefoot.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Please tell me your boss is the Mayan Shaman. I can just imagine him walking around in the office in suits, no shoes, vision questing.

  39. LSP*

    The former owner/CEO of my company (a government contractor) would ALWAYS walk around the office barefoot. He was even known to put his BARE FEET up on people’s desks. He never did that to me, but, as we was a pretty approachable guy, I would not have shied away from asking him to please keep his feet off my desk, because… EW!

    1. LSP*

      I’m not squeamish about feet in general, but a colleagues bare feet up on my work space is a step too far.

  40. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’ve told this story before, but at my last office (which was VERY casual), a co-worker of mine conducted an interview while barefoot. No. No no no. I thought it was really unprofessional and gave a bad impression, and I do not mind feet. I can’t even articulate what line it crossed, but it crossed that line.

    I also once worked in a much more conservative place where an intern walked around the entire office barefoot and even went into the bathroom without putting on her shoes. This was one of those shared office spaces where different companies rented space, and it was just… no.

    I don’t enjoy wearing shoes and I have a shoe-free house (says the woman who wore her sneakers inside today for reasons), but please, people, if you’re going to walk around your office, put your shoes on. I don’t blink an eye at people who remove their shoes at their desks, especially in private cubes/offices, but please wear them when you venture out.

    1. Plague of frogs*

      I’m not sure interviewing with bare feet is such a bad idea. It will weed out people who can’t handle that kind of work atmosphere (and judging from the comments, there are a lot of those people…something I would have never guessed).

      At my old company, we would deliberately swear during interviews because anyone who was offended by it would never be happy working at our company.

      1. Close Bracket*

        I’m not offended by swearing, in fact, I have a potty mouth that has gotten me compared to truck drivers and sailors ( at least some of whom must be non-swearers, but whatever). I would be pretty appalled by a work place that is not trying to put on a good front for me, as I am trying to put on a good front for them, and by people who don’t know how to suss out their audience to get a feel for how offended they would be by swearing and who aren’t willing to modify their language around people who don’t care for swearing. This is one of those culture fit things that really should not be a hill to die on. None of you will suffer harm from having to swallow the occasional f-bomb.

        1. Plague of frogs*

          I had a coworker who didn’t care for swearing and I (and many others) avoided swearing around him, and apologized if we slipped up. And he was a nice guy and never complained about it.

          But, e.g, the CEO wasn’t going to avoid swearing in company meetings so as not to offend a few people. At the end of the day, it was our company culture and anyone who couldn’t handle an f-bomb in an interview would have their head explode if they actually worked with us.

          I’m not sure any workplace should try to put on a good front in an interview. People need to know what they’re in for. If the company culture needs to be hidden during an interview, that’s a problem. I don’t want candidates to put on a good front–I want to see who they are. In the course of a 6-8 hour interview, it comes out eventually.

  41. Emoji pizza unicorn*

    I interviewed with a company that had a shoe-free office. Glad I didn’t get the job! I’m on team I don’t want to see your feet.

  42. KMB213*

    I’m mostly just happy to read the comments on this because I feel vindicated.

    I work in a casual law office – the boss sometimes goes super casual and will even wear sweats, but, for the rest of us, it’s smart casual if we don’t have a client coming in. (We typically go to clients, so we only have one in about once a month.) I know definitions can vary, but, for me/our office, smart casual means jeans with no rips, chinos, polo shirts, blouses, maxi dresses, etc. On occasion, someone will dress more business casual (dress pants and a tie, but not a suit for a man, a wrap dress for a woman). But, for the industry we are definitely on the casual side.

    However, for some reason, it crossed some invisible line for me when two coworkers stopped wearing shoes in the office. It’s hard to articulate why it makes me uncomfortable. It’s not that I think feet are gross in any way. (I actually love being barefoot myself.) It’s more that there’s a level of familiarity and casualness that I feel isn’t appropriate for a professional environment.

  43. okie dokie*

    Did anyone else just give themselves a pedicure? My feet are always pretty good but I just had to go spruce up after reading this lol

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I got one earlier today– my first in AGES– and I am just so happy that I’m reading this with sparkly feet.

    2. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

      I’m overdue for a pedi, which is why I’ve had on closed shoes instead of sandals all week (even on the day when our heat index was 105*). I did slip my shoes off under my desk at every opportunity, but put them back on before walking away from my cubicle.

  44. Cobblestone*

    Shoes in the office, please. Barefoot under your desk is fine, but if people can see you or you go in a shared space, wear shoes.

    My coworker would frequently take off her shoes in the lunchroom. I had to go eat elsewhere when she did because I would lose my appetite. Then she once said people who go barefoot in the office were gross. I said she did it herself. She denied it. /baffled/

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Well OBVIOUSLY only OTHER PEOPLE are gross. Duuuuuuh.
      Seriously though what on earth?

      1. Cobblestone*

        I forgot to mention, she would put her bare feet on the chair next to her, and then when I would come to the table, she’d graciously take her feet off and then expect me to sit where her feet just were. I have so many issues with her in general. So many.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yeah, that definitely only makes it weirder. Seriously who knows where her feet have been (SO MANY BAREFOOT PUBLIC BATHROOM GOERS IN THIS THREAD). I often go barefoot myself (in private) but even I am weirded out by this woman.

  45. RNL*

    I work in a large-ish law firm. I take my shoes off under my desk all the time, but I have an office and am reasonably senior now and do what I want.

    Once when I was an articled student (like a legal intern) the managing partner came into my office and asked me to come to his office to review something with him, and I had to slip my shoes on in an panic. And came to his office in two totally different shoes.

    Anyway, it’s fine under your desk but not if you’re walking around.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      > And came to his office in two totally different shoes.

      LOL! I did that once … and got to work before I realized. Hey, not my fault, my shoes are all pretty similar and I was getting dressed in a poorly lit room. And I they were both dark – I think it was 1 brown and 1 black, but it might even have been 2 black shoes.

      So, of course, I had to make a point of pointing it out to all my colleagues because I thought it was hilarious. And I was careful to look at my selectetd outfit in a fully-lit room after that.

  46. Halmsh*

    Oh my god. This has been giving me flashbacks to my previous office, where the founder/president would walk INTO THE BATHROOM in just his socks. SO DISGUSTING.

    We then had a colleague who came in and complained about how the mostly young staff was unprofessional (she was in her late 30s/early 40s and the rest of the people on our floor were mostly in their 20s) but would parade around barefoot. She had one of those open square compartment Ikea shelves in front of her desk as a divider, and she’d put her shoes ON DISPLAY ON THE HIGHER SHELVES. In most places, this at least reads as a little weird, but in NYC it is downright unsanitary.

    My last boss, who I was deeply relieved to be rid of, also complained about our workplace being unprofessional (it was a very casual workplace, but people were dedicated and hard working) and also chose to go shoeless around the office. It looks terrible to cry ‘no professionalism!’ while lacking the common courtesy to put your shoes back on when you walk to the printer.

    1. Amber T*

      To be fair, our bathroom floors are mopped either daily or three times a week. I’ve seen people go barefoot in our gym/locker room bathroom, and to be perfectly honest, it’s probably cleaner than most household bathrooms. I’ve never seen someone barefoot in the main bathrooms, and I’d probably be surprised if I did because it’s just something that’s Not Done, but I wouldn’t find it gross.

      1. halmsh*

        These bathrooms were regularly cleaned, but they were gross. There was some kind of toilet leakage issue and they constantly smelled like pee. Definitely not a sock friendly situation.

  47. Amber T*

    I’m barefoot under my desk right now (heels suck), but they’ll go back on if I have to walk anywhere, or if anyone comes into my office.

    I’ve implemented my own rule though – I have a pair of moccasin slippers I keep at work (they accidentally ended up here once, I’m not entirely sure how), and if I’m stuck in the office past 7pm for any reason (I’m usually here til 6) I’ll put them on. It’s rare, but it’ll happen. If I’m here this late, I’m usually stuck at my computer anyway, but if I have to make the occasional printer run, I’ll do it comfortably.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      So, I have to ask: are you wearing hose of any kind? Because in my book, that doesn’t count as barefoot.

  48. Names are for Chumps*

    Sure. Barefoot is comfy. Now, think of what people bring in on their shoes from the street andbit brews in the carpeting, even on tile. Vacuuming doesn’t remove any of that but what you can see.

  49. Panda Mom*

    No matter how clean your feet are, think about what other people are tracking in on the soles of their shoes from outdoors. Fecal material, pieces of dead bugs that have been stepped on, dirt, etc. Unless you wash your feet as often as you wash your hands, it could get super gross quickly if you walk around a public space barefoot. I’m in Florida so I live barefoot in my own home and I hate my feet being confined too. I know my own home is clean because we do not wear shoes inside the house but I’m not willing to take a chance in public where others do not adhere to the same cleanliness standards.

  50. Cait*

    Sorry OP but put on shoes to walk around the office. It’s not your home, it is a place of business.

    Barefoot under your desk? Mostly fine unless it is super visible. It’s just that line of professionalism that shouldn’t be crossed (IMO).

  51. StressedButOkay*

    I once came into the lunch room to find the new temp – who was very, very fresh out of college – with her shoes off and her bare feet ON the lunch table! I kindly but firmly told her that it was not acceptable for her to be putting her bare feet on surfaces where people sit down to eat.

    After that, I just have a knee jerk reaction to people walking around without shoes on in the office. Under your desk is fine but through the halls presents a less than professional look and is a health hazard. (Plus many people view feet as gross – myself included! – so you wouldn’t be winning yourself any favors.)

    (The temp did not last long in our office. Beyond the casual treatment of our offices as a home, she was just a not great fit. Even though that was her first job, I was pretty surprised by just the lack of – common sense knowledge? about things like that.)

  52. Adele*

    Have a pair of clogs or mules (if open-toed shoes are acceptable at your office) to keep under your desk. Slip your feet into them when anyone can see your feet or you are away from your desk. Barefeet are just not professional-looking, even in a casual office. I, personally, am not squicked out, but other people could be. Why invite problems when there is a simple solution?

    1. yet another Kat*

      I came here to say this! There are tons of mules of every style and level of formality because they’re v trendy right now. They’re super easy to take off and put on quickly.

  53. MechanicalPencil*

    I work in a cube solo, so I kick my shoes off at my desk, then slip them back on to go to the break room or wherever. At home, I wear slippers around and no outdoor shoe touches anything past the entryway, just as these slippers don’t go past the entryway area.

  54. Thursday Next*

    Please don’t walk around your office, where everyone else is wearing shoes, barefoot! In addition to squicking your coworkers out and possibly stepping on lurking staples, it’s just not hygenic for your feet.

    I found Sanita clogs worked well for me—easy to kick off and slip back on under my desk.

    Also, I have a rant against flip flops (outside of the pool or beach, of course)! They’re terribly unsupportive, unhygienic (I read something about a study that revealed walking around city streets in flip flops was barely a step above walking barefoot), and that flapping sound is just horrible to listen to.

    /end rant

    1. Weaselologist*

      Oh yes flip flops in the office isn’t nice. And I’m in a big city so the flip flop wearers always have dirty feet. (once found a colleague washing her feet in the kitchen sink early one morning – super bendy woman, very impressive but also totally gross. )
      Being bare foot in an office isn’t great – what if there is a fire and you can’t go back to your desk for shoes?

      Makes sense in a bank or finance company as it would increase the ability to count on your pinkies from 10 to 20.

  55. Louise*

    Bless the Bay Area. My office walks around in socks all the time. I’m so grateful for it too — one of my first jobs was at a childhood play center and all the play spaces were shoeless, and since we (the front desk) had to go in there all the time, we all got completely used to never wearing shoes at work. I love it. My feet love it. I feel sad for everyone else who can’t experience that lovely freedom.

    1. EB*

      I’m a bit of a “weirdo” in that I don’t care, either. But I also live in one of the more “hippie” towns in the midwest so it’s not remarkable to see people wandering around barefoot outdoors in the summer. When it’s really slow I will occasionally wander out of my office barefoot/in socks briefly but I do try to keep them on for other people’s sake– I think the concerns about insanely dirty floors are unfounded unless your floors are only cleaned once in a blue moon or you make a habit of licking your feet. We have gray carpet but I can still spot a staple easily…

  56. Ann Perkins*

    Maybe it’s a legal office thing, but at a law firm where I worked going barefoot or socks only was very common as we rarely had clients in the office. Our transcriptionists found it easier to use their foot pedals when barefoot too.

    In most offices… under your desk is fine, not around the office. No show socks meant to wear with flats or heels make them much more comfortable and less sweaty feeling.

  57. Mel*

    One of the bane’s of my mother’s professional existence is trying to convince her otherwise rockstar employee to wear shoes around the office! Sigh.

  58. Glenn*

    People are really weird about feet, and some of them (maybe 5% of the population, off the top of my head?) are so horrified by the idea of feet that they will say or do literally anything to get you not to show your feet in the office. (Making up rules that don’t exist, telling stories about bad things that happened in the past (that didn’t actually happen, even making up laws.) Regardless of your position on the etiquette, it’s not worth the fight with the die-hards who will go to the mat over it, unless you’re the CEO in which case you can do whatever you want.

  59. Earthwalker*

    I vote that every office that wants to assure that women don’t go barefoot sets a strict dress code that that requires shoes but prohibits ones with heels and pointy pinchy toes. It never made sense to me that offices insist on anatomically ridiculous “professional” footwear for women only to have them run around sockfoot or barefoot because their shoes hurt so much. Same for men too, of course, who do occasionally have to deal with a pointy toe fad.

  60. HRM*

    I don’t mind bare feet in the office at all, but I know I’m in the minority here. I personally don’t have an issue walking around in socks/tights within my own office, but wouldn’t step outside of my office or walk barefoot around my own office, because I’m a bit squeamish about the old carpeting – other people though – eh don’t care… you do you.

    1. Cornflower Blue*

      +1 that is exactly me! I like being barefoot in places that I trust are clean. I don’t trust my office.

      I also don’t give a flying fig what anyone else does with their shoes as long as it doesn’t involve me.

  61. ReBecCa from TriBeCa*

    I knew my office was different when my boss showed up for the interview shoeless. Being barefoot is discouraged, but many of us spend the day in just socks. much more comfortable, without shoes on.

  62. Erin*

    I’d compromise by taking your shoes off while at your desk but leaving your socks on, so it’s super easy to slip back into the shoes if someone needs to look at something on your computer, or if you needed to get up quickly.

  63. Hallowflame*

    You definitely need to have shoes on your feet any time you step away from your desk.
    As for your foot discomfort from the shoes you’re wearing, you have a couple of options. 1. Invest in higher-quality, more comfortable shoes that won’t leave you feeling reluctant to put them back on for short jaunts to the printer. And/or 2. Keep a pair of comfortable flats under your desk to slip into when you have a visitor or when you have to leave your desk.

  64. Falling Diphthong*

    I was once staying at a mountain inn, and over dinner the proprietor read aloud a recent review (professional reviewer and publication) where it mentioned one of the proprietors talking to the reviewer while going about in wool socks. We all laughed, scooted back so we could check that, yes, every single person at the long dinner table was wearing either wool socks or fuzzy slippers as the logical apres ski choice, and went back to eating. (So the review served its function–if you wanted to wear wool socks to relax post skiing, this lodge was a good choice.)

    So in that context, both proprietors and guests wearing socks made sense. But it wasn’t a law office–I would look askance at that, even though I am typing this barefoot right now. (I work from home.) Wandering the office barefoot has a relaxed, casual vibe that works well at a resort and not at all if you are trying to convey “we are serious business people who can be trusted to handle your legal needs with discretion and care.” Even if those two things are not logically connected, they are emotionally connected.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Adding context after glancing up the thread: If half your law office walks around in socks, you can too. If no one else does it, then don’t be the one to break that barrier unless you are the most powerful person in the office.

  65. TotesMaGoats*

    I’ve walked barefoot around all the offices I’ve worked in. In most of those cases no one other than staff members below me on the ladder would ever see me do it. But the 5 feet to the copier? Nope, not putting my shoes back on. I love shoes. I love owning and wearing them. But having them on while sitting? Nope.

    Except the bathroom. Shoes always in the bathroom. Pacing in my office on a conference all? No shoes.

  66. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    There were a lot of people walking around in socks this morning at my office. It was pouring rain, and people got soaked on the way to work. In this office, that’s the only time it would be ok for people to not have shoes on while away from their desk. I finally dried out about noon!

  67. Rey*

    Someone in my office has medical issues that make shoes very uncomfortable, but they always wears dark socks when they around within our immediate office, which makes it less noticeable. I know this might not be ideal during the summer, but I think it could be a good option (depending on your office culture, of course)

  68. Kat*

    My colleague goes barefoot. In winter, she walks around with socks on. It’s really unprofessional and what’s more she could hurt herself in an office where we use paper clips, drawing pins, etc. I wish someone would tell her not to but it never happens. I once caught her washing her feet in the bathroom sink. Just put shoes on!

    I totally get taking shoes off at your desk and I do that too. But when others are looking at your feet and you’re interacting with others: avoid.

    1. AnonandAnon*

      Washing her feet in the bathroom sink because they got dirty when walking around barefoot I presume? Either way, euw!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        What is even the thinking there? She’s going to wash off that one thing she stepped in, and magically her feet will now remain clean? Unless she also had her shoes at the ready to put back on, it fails the logic test.

  69. Allison*

    Around this time of year when I’m not wearing tights to work, my feet sometimes get sweaty and damp in my work shoes and I too want to take them off, but I’d never walk around barefoot, and honestly even if no one can see them, I’m sure they have a fairly unpleasant smell that would become noticeable if they were left bare for too long, and I want to be considerate of my cube neighbor.

  70. Bea*

    If you get hurt and file for workers comp, they’ll be so pissed if your boss knowingly allows for this to happen! I know it’s dumb but it’s a safety thing, what if you step on something and it gets infected? You think it’s a long shot but OSHA doesn’t care.

  71. AnonandAnon*

    This would actually be a safety issue in my office, a coworker of mine used to bring in slippers to wear around (he got side-eyed glances, but not a big deal). I can see wanting to be barefoot when seated, but not when walking around, too many things could happen to get hurt, and yes, I don’t want to see someone’s completely naked feet in the office. Why not wear slip on sandals or if necessary, flip flops?

  72. Chereche*

    I’m almost always bare feet at my desk (heck I am right now) but I occasionally do pad around bare feet (usually just to the printer/cupboard and back and that’s literally five footsteps away), or to the cubicle beside mine but it usually only happens when:

    1. I’ve been at the office upwards of 12 hours at this point and I honestly have zero effs to give at the moment
    2. When I’m the first in the office or the only other people on the floor are way over on the other side
    3. I honestly just forgot I was barefoot when I got up (and then time of day depending I either rectify the situation or sigh and carry on).

    I tend not to even slip my shoes on when I’m talking to people, but I’ve long since mastered how to tuck my feet way back to the side when I’m talking to someone, or I angle myself so my legs still aren’t visible so it’s not in sight regardless.

    And yeah, this is a business formal to semi-formal place (day depending) but honestly, sometimes, my toes just need liberation.

  73. voluptuousfire*

    Why not buy a pair of those leather moccasin type slippers that look kinda like loafers in black or another neutral color? They don’t necessarily look like slippers.

  74. Teapot librarian*

    My shoes are off right now because I have a really uncomfortable blister :-( I’ve taken this opportunity to sit cross-legged in my chair. So basically I’m acting like I’m 5.

  75. Health Insurance Nerd*

    No, you cannot go barefoot at work. Taking off your shoes under your desk is one thing, but actually walking around is another.

  76. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

    I’m one of those weird people who HATES going barefoot. I don’t even do it in my own home. The closest I get is being in socks, and even then I feel gross about it. At home I am in slippers most of the time, shoes everywhere else. Including the beach. Like, on the sand. Shoes always. (Yes, I was an anxious child! Didn’t like it then either!)

    Maybe get some ~fancy~ looking slippers to slip on when you have to leave your desk?

  77. Dasein9*

    I work in an office that is nearly paperless (there are three staplers for some 85 people to share) and non-client-facing. My hair is purple and nobody cares. So, padding around in socks is fine, but I am surprised nobody has mentioned a key factor yet: they should be cute socks! Stripes, good colors, that sort of thing infuses some fun in the day. Yesterday was my 49th birthday, so I wore my dinosaur socks. (‘Cause I am one. Har.)

  78. kc89*

    ugh so many of my co-workers take their shoes and socks off


    you’re at work, not your home

  79. Bookworm*

    Agree with the general sentiment: under the desk and/or if no one is about then you can probably get away with it. But generally going barefoot is frowned upon unless you’re surfing or on the beach or something for your job. I’m sorry but it IS unhygienic (you don’t know what other people have been working on or how well your floor is cleaned) and I would think there’s a risk of injury in a law office. A pair of clogs or casual slip on shoes might be a good compromise.

  80. AKchic*

    I get being uncomfortable, but not only do people feel grossed out; this is a safety risk. What if there is a fire? Or something falls through the roof and live electrical wires are sparking across the floor or a glass window shatters and there is glass all over the floor? Your shoes will protect your feet a lot better than just your dress socks. It’s also an OSHA requirement to wear shoes in the workplace (even in the office).

    So, my fellow barefoot-fanatic: wear shoes. Even nice slip-on ballet-flats. Feel free to kick them off under your desk if you’re not actually moving around; but if your tush lifts up from your seat, your feet need to be in those shoes.

    1. A Nickname for AAM*

      Ballet flats would not protect your feet from shattered windows or sparking live electrical wires. Have you ever seen a construction worker or electrician in ballet flats?

      If that is a common problem in your workplace, the dress code should require sturdy work boots.

    2. Free Meerkats*

      I’m going to challenge the OSHA statement. Here is what OSHA says about shoes:

      29 CFR 1910.136
      (a) “The employer shall ensure that each
      affected employee uses protective footwear when
      working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries
      due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing
      the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will
      protect the affected employee from an electrical
      hazard, such as a static-discharge or electric-shock
      hazard, that remains after the employer takes other
      necessary protective measures.”

      Unless your office space has the named hazards, there is no OSHA requirement for protective (or any) footwear.

      1. anonymouse*

        So basically if you regularly encounter staples on the floor, you have to wear shoes with soles that are thick enough to protect you from loose staples …

  81. LadyKelvin*

    I take off my shoes and put socks on when I am at my desk because it is so cold in my office, but I always switch back to shoes when I need to go anywhere. I’ve seen people walk around our office building without shoes and the general consensus is please wear shoes, its gross that you are walking around barefoot. (he also basically looked homeless, so there was some additional side-eye about dressing appropriately for a business casual/casual government office building).

  82. JanetM*

    In my previous office, I occasionally walked around in my socks if I got caught in the rain and my shoes were soaked. Socks dry faster, and I don’t tolerate squelchiness very well.

  83. Bookworm*

    Please be very careful walking around barefoot in an office. I used to do it after hours when everyone else was gone, until I stepped on a staple and ended up with an infected foot. The shoes stay on now!

  84. Avalon Angel*

    That last sentence is sage advice indeed! Although it would have made Bertram Cooper unhappy.

  85. Jess*

    In my office, people walk to the printer barefoot all the time, and some people actually keep comfy slippers under their desks. My manager’s office birthday gift was a pair of slippers that she wears all the time!

  86. AnonymousInfinity*

    My coworker wears old dirty flip flops and is often barefoot. She props her feet in her office drawers while talking to people, picks at her toes, and rubs her feet. Then she’ll pop open a snack and lick her fingers as she eats. During the same conversation. And it might be in someone else’s office instead of just her own. (Seriously, I can’t go in her office without wanting to douse myself in a vat of GermX.)

    I take my shoes off under my desk. I even now walk barefoot around my personal office. On Fridays when it’s dead, and if I have socks on, I might QUICKLY walk to the printer without shoes (because Murphy’s Law says a client is going to walk in and want me to walk them down the building somewhere).

  87. Random Thought*

    At Old Job I took my shoes off at my desk all the time. I wouldn’t walk around like that but even when people stopped by my cube, it generally wasn’t a problem (for context, it was local government and multiple people in our office had blue/pink hair, wore leggings under a tunic, etc). One day though. One day I worked late and was one of only two in the office. Our top administrator (CEO equivalent) came down to our department with a question and my colleague brought him to me (surprise!). I didn’t have time to grab my shoes so had to sit there talking to him barefoot. It was somewhat mortifying.

    All this to say, depends on your office but probably don’t walk around without them because you never know who (or what) you will run into!

  88. TootsNYC*

    I had a boss come to me and tell me to tell my freelancer that she needed to have her shoes on.

    One of the nice things about working later than most people is that then, I feel free to take my shoes off.

  89. TootsNYC*

    From the Mayo Clinic’s website:

    Plantar warts are caused by an infection with HPV in the outer layer of skin on the soles of your feet. They develop when the virus enters your body through tiny cuts, breaks or other weak spots on the bottoms of your feet.

  90. VermiciousKnit*

    One of the most enlightening things from AAM is that I’ve learned I’m way, way less squeamish than most other people.

    Definitely good to be aware so I can try to adjust for people’s comfort when needed, but also so that I can inwardly giggle when someone is so grossed out by something mostly harmless.

  91. Barney Stinson*

    You could hurt yourself…people drop staples and other items on the floor all the time. It’s an OSHA nightmare.

  92. Lauren*

    People go barefoot in my office all the time! It helps that we can’t wear outdoor shoes inside so the carpets are pretty clean.

  93. Flash Bristow*

    Huge sympathies. I much prefer to be barefoot as it helps me balance (I have mobility disabilities). I have dry leathery feet so not the horrid sweaty kind that you might imagine.

    When I started a new job, after a little while HR came to me and insisted I didn’t walk barefoot, in case I trod on a staple or something. I tried claiming that I wouldn’t hold them negligible but nothing doing. They tried to suggest I kept flip-flops at work but I can’t wear them (again due to my mobility and balance impairments) so every time I went to the copier or wherever, I had to spend time putting on lace ups. But this is what HR wanted – so it’s what I had to do.

    1. Bibliovore*

      Due to a stability/physical issue for about 9 months I had to be barefoot or in hiking books. I admit it was odd but I was permitted that accommodation.

  94. louiejac*

    “However, my feet get uncomfortable in the shoes.”

    Curious, what type of shoes do you wear at work, and does your workplace require you wear those type of shoes? If that shoe type serves no functional purpose and causes safety/health issues (since you feel uncomfortable), I can’t see how the employer can have it both ways. But I’m making a lot of assumptions

  95. A social worker*

    I’m concerned about the “40% offended” statistic and wondering what people think of the following. I keep 2 pairs of shoes at work (in a spare file drawer in my cube) to change into when I take walks — a pair of comfortable street shoes, and also a pair of cheap flip-flops for when I’m wearing sandals and don’t have socks. (Note: Sandals and open-toed shoes are completely acceptable at my office. Flip-flops are not really in dress code, but I only wear them for the walks.)
    For lack of other options, I generally change my shoes in my cube before and after walks. It’s pretty discreet, and to my knowledge people don’t really notice (except a walking buddy might see me doing it, if they happen to be waiting for me right there), but is this weird and/or offensive? I mean, it’s pretty much akin to someone changing from sneakers or winter boots into their work shoes, right? Just want to make sure I’m not offending people!
    And this is a bit of digression, but on a recent plane ride, a young women in the aisle seat (I had the window) asked if I minded if she put her feet up on the vacant middle seat. I said I didn’t mind. I was imagining socks. She proceeded to put her BARE FEET on the middle seat and then she dozed off and at some points her feet were touching me! Ew!! In retrospect, I should have been more assertive about it. (And sorry Alison for the digression, but it seemed appropriate to include it here!)

  96. Meliza*

    I’m currently working as an English teacher in Thailand, where everyone (teachers and students) all take their shoes off before entering the school and go barefoot the entire day. It’s the cultural norm here, and it is A DREAM. I’ve always disliked wearing shoes, so going freely barefoot the entire day is an amazing perk. I’m moving back to the U.S in a couple weeks, and I’m kind of dreading going back to wearing shoes in the workplace again.

  97. MTinEurope*

    In the country where I am based, it is an insurance issue. So no bare feet. If you cut your foot or such, it would need to be reported as a work place injury especially if you had to go to the Dr… There is a legal obligation from your employer even if you don’t want to report it.

    Barefoot at your desk, sure no problem..but walking around, not really. A few posters stated that to keep a pair of slip on shoes at your desk to do the short walks. That is a great idea if you have a formal office.

    1. AnonymousInfinity*

      I’m not intending to jump on you – I’ve been scratching my head at a lot of comments and yours is near the end. A lot of the “shoes” women wear barely qualify as foot coverage, and the point of most coverage (the sole of the shoe) is for the toughest part of the average foot (the sole of the foot). Many sandals, thong-type shoes, ballet flats, D’orsay flats – can expose toes, tops of feet, and/or sides of feet, the most vulnerable parts of the foot that are likely to be cut, scratched, or injured when walking anywhere. Many of these shoes are thin enough that they’re pretty much For Appearances Only and provide the barest “protection” against office hazards such as commercial-grade-3″-staples and thumbtacks. If someone steps on a 3″ staple wearing a ballet flat from Target, that someone is still going to be in pain, if not bleeding. I’ve walked my dog wearing those kind of flats and feel every rock and uneven part of pavement, as if I was barefoot.

      Basically, IMO, foot scrapes/cuts/etc are workplace injury issues with or without shoes, unless the workplace is mandating closed-toe, full-coverage shoes that don’t expose any part of the foot. And, for women, going barefoot is barely a safety issue if the alternative is wearing a flimsy sandal, thong-type shoe, or some sort of flat without hefty coverage (e.g., Clarks). It’s an etiquette issue.

      In general, I don’t see the difference in someone wearing a pretty, nice thong sandal with everything exposed versus not having a piece of cardboard rubber loosely strapped to the bottom of their foot. The bottom of that shoe is dirtier than the bottom of that foot, and we’re seeing toes galore either way.

      1. VermiciousKnit*

        +1. Shoes are so, so much dirtier than feet. HANDS are usually dirtier than feet because they touch everything.

  98. Rachel*

    Here in Korea, many of our office staff (in a school) have slippers or plastic sandals they use indoors. Then change back into regular shoes for going outdoors, to the cafeteria, or if someone important is coming. Great system, if you ask me!

  99. Etiquette Note*

    Funny story: my previous employer once signed us all up for etiquette school. The woman who ran the training was VERY stuffy, old school, pearls, “women must wear make up and a skirt at ALL times” type…but she did all three days of the training barefoot. She said it made her more comfortable. As soon as I noticed that, I felt okay tuning her out…

  100. Rivakonneva*

    I work in an academic library, and I always wear closed-toe shoes. Once you’ve had a loaded book truck run over your foot, you’ll be glad for the extra layer of leather protecting your toes. A lesson I had to learn the hard way as a student worker. :(

    Plus, our staff areas get vacuumed maybe 2-3 times a year. Between the spilled staples, leaky ink pens, spilled food and misc. stuff tracked in there is NO way I’m putting bare feet on our floors.

    1. obleighvious*

      I was just coming here to say this! I work in a library, too, and the threat of dropped books (they’re heavy) and book carts make me ALWAYS wear shoes, even when it’s super hot and the a/c is broken.

      Also, personally, I am one of those people who have permanently gross feet. I struggle with fungus, warts, athlete’s foot, you name it… so the thought of walking around barefoot, when I could either (1) infect others or (2) pick up someone else’s whatever is just …. horrifying.

      1. obleighvious*

        Although, honestly, I usually wear shoes about 50% of the time at home, as well. Basically because my cats ALAWYS throw up right after I take my shoes off and I step in a hairball and it’s much grosser when you are barefoot than in shoes. So I guess I’m just anti-bare feet :(

  101. oxfordcomma4life*

    I have a pair of office slippers and they honestly are the greatest. I work in the Arctic, which is terrifically chill, literally, and originally this started because I take my boots off when I come in in the winter. But it’s now summer and I’m still rocking them. I think slippers or little slip on shoes are a better alternative to bare feet?

  102. LeRainDrop*

    I worked as an attorney in a business casual legal office for nine years. I was definitely tempted to do the barefoot thing sometimes, especially late at night after wearing heels for like 10 or 12 hours, so I totally get it. However, there were a few attorneys who made it quite known how “disgusting” they thought it was whenever one of our assistants walked barefoot. This assistant is particularly well-liked and professional, and it was extremely rare she walked barefoot, so I was pretty surprised even she didn’t get some leeway to do it sometimes. Personally, I often kicked my heels off under my desk and then put them back on to go walking, and then I had spare flip-flops in a drawer for when I worked at the office late.

  103. Quickbeam*

    I’m a nurse and all I can think of is that someone is going to step on a rogue staple. Shoes are my best friend.

  104. Delta Delta*

    Lawyer here. Worked in an office that was quite laid-back – jeans, sandals, sneakers were all ok. At one point, though, one of our paralegals started walking around the office barefoot, which felt too casual. A prospective client saw this once and walked out before his consultation because of it.

    All that said, if you want to kick off your shoes under your desk or after hours – seems fine. If it’s going to be disruptive to business or potentially hazardous, wear shoes.

  105. Envy*

    I work in hotel reception. I used to wear ballerina slippers behind the front desk until one day I saw a spider to big to step on to kill it. I’ve worn shoes ever since.

    I love the bungee lace shoes for easy on and off.

  106. Willow*

    I’d say it’s one thing if you have one of those jobs where one is required to dress up and wear uncomfortable shoes, to take them off for a few minutes or so under your desk. It’s another thing to walk around without shoes on all day. If you’re not required to wear heels, perhaps considering getting a nice pair of dressy flats that would be more comfortable.

  107. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    LOL. Legal offices, not to mention all other corporate offices, are not “clothing optional”. You are required to wear clothes in an office, and that includes shoes. That being said, it appears to be common to slip one’s shoes off *temporarily* where no one can see, like under a desk. But you need to have the type of shoes that slip off and on easily, in case you need to get up quickly, and your feet shouldn’t stink!

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Wanted to add: It’s strange to me that some people seem unable to understand professional work/office norms, such as not walking around barefoot, not clipping your nails, not picking your nose at your desk, etc.

  108. Rosie the Litigator*

    I’m a partner in a boutique law firm. I won’t lie, we have office slippers / flip flops that we utilize to keep things comfortable when there are no clients coming in and we are otherwise closed (e.g. we’re staying late, doors are locked from the inside, it’s Sunday afternoon). Sometimes I putter to the copier machine barefoot after hours – but it’s partially my business, so if you don’t like it, tough.

    My expectation of staff (and my business partners) is that around clients, we don’t have bare shoulders, keep shoes on, and look put together if we are ‘open’ for business. Comfy ballet flats are just fine, though.

  109. KarenH*

    Consider a comfy pair of “work slippers” These will be slippers that live in your office and that at quick glance LOOK like actual shoes (flats if you want them comfy). Nothing fuzzy or with eyeballs, or weird colors. Black is the easiest color for slippers-pretending-to-be-shoes. They do exist (I have a pair at work)

  110. Lia*

    A co-worker often goes barefoot and the consensus is “ew”. However, the carpets are not vacuumed here unless a special request is put in (currently, about twice a year) and I don’t have any idea if the tile is ever mopped or swept. I’d sooner walk barefoot in a garbage dump than on the floors here.

  111. Common Foot Sense*

    Nothing at all wrong with going barefoot in an office. Unprofessional? Not if it helps the barefoot person stay focused, energized and on top of what she or he is doing. A case could actually be made that shoes are unprofessional when the person wearing them is so uncomfortable that all she/he can think of is taking them off. As for the people who feel squeamish about seeing bare feet, they can always avert their eyes. Their foot phobia may be costing the company in productivity! Also, habitually bare feet tend to be a lot healthier than habitually shod feet, even if the soles accumulate a little surface dirt. Getting air and light is better for the feet than suffocating in synthetic materials for fear of “offending” someone. It’s time that bare feet got a fair shake — in the office and everywhere else!

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