Can ‘Naked Fridays’ Help Productivity at the Office?
CNBC.com News Editor
Call it the ultimate casual Friday — “Naked Friday.”
British TV station Virgin 1 grabbed big headlines this week for sending four people into London’s subway at rush hour, wearing nothing but handbags, briefcases and shoes.
The stunt was to promote a new six-part documentary called the “Naked Office,”which follows six companies as they struggle with typical office issues, from an unfocused boss to a mother-daughter conflict.
But while the rest of us were falling down the escalator gawking, we missed the big takeaway — “Naked Fridays.”
Each episode tracks a company over the course of the week as they grapple with the usual office issues, culminating in the dreaded event, “Naked Friday,” where everyone is asked, but not required, to show up in the buff.
The idea, according to the show’s behavioral expert, who, by the way, has done consulting for HSBC and IBM, is that if you get such a huge fear/ inhibition out of the way, it will make your team stronger. More open. More honest.
So, does it boost productivity?
Last spring, David Taylor, a business psychologist, had a design firm in northern England try the extreme team-building exercise as a test for the show.
Not everyone went completely nude, the London Telegraph reports. One man wore some sort of covering pouch and one of the women wore black underwear. But most employees, after some initial reluctance, stripped themselves of their inhibitions — and their office-appropriate attire.
And, it seems to have had a positive effect.
"It was brilliant. Now that we've seen each other naked, there are no barriers,” said the one female employee who went Full Monty. “It was emotional but we found we were much more able to talk to each other honestly — and have been since. The company has improved massively."
OK, on the one hand, I can see going to work saving a few minutes in the morning, because all you’ll have to pick out is your shoes. And maybe that blunder you made last week isn't such a big deal now that everyone's seen you naked.
But you know how this is going to turn out — It’s not going to be the hot chick from marketing who decides to go along with your little experiment, it will be that guy from accounting whose major food groups are of Cheetos, beer and Funyuns.
And productivity will grind to a screeching halt because everyone will be up in arms about how this was the worst idea ever and how are we going to get Senor Funyun to put his clothes back on?
Suddenly, that you-fall-back-and-I’ll-catch-you-exercise is looking pretty good.
OK, who’s up for a three-hour HR meeting?
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