Tess Vigeland, host of the National Public Radio show Marketplace Money, interviewed the managing director of a UK design firm. He invited all of his employees to come to work not without negative thoughts, but without any clothing.
The interview with Mike Owen is full of unlikely interchanges:
Vigeland: I’m sorry, I’m really going to try not to giggle too much. So were you yourself clothing-less?
Owen: You’ve just gone straight to the killer question, straightaway, haven’t you? That is the most important question of all.
But yeah, I absolutely drove to work naked. Yeah.
It’s hard to even consider the suggestion of working naked seriously, but Owen does provide an interesting rationale. He responds to Ms. Vigeland with the following assessment of her tenure at NPR:
Owen: OK. In your eight years, you’ll be very close to some people, but not as close as we are to each other here. It really just speeds up the way we communicate with each other. It takes it to another level. There may be things that sometimes when you’re talking to your colleagues or if they’re talking to you, stuff gets in the way, you know? And we’re much better now at clear thinking and clear communication.
Going without clothing to the office is a suggestion that is well beyond radical. Owen even admits that he “couldn’t concentrate” during the nude workday. But nevertheless, the objectives of the experience do warrant some investigation. David Taylor, author of The Naked Leader and creator of the program, offers this advice:
Do it! Take action – Your success comes down to what you actually do. What you, your people and your organisation do, every day. Everything else is just noise.
Bothering to put on clothing at work may seem essential, but the exercise is a valid (if extreme) demonstration of this premise. Results come from action, not from distractions. Companies should focus on actual progress instead of worrying about irrelevant details. This is a powerful and important lesson, and one that is difficult for many organizations to take to heart.
Programs rooted in developing group personality can be helpful for organizations. Sending everyone off to a retreat or a relaxing event can build community and encourage better interaction. These approaches may help ease social tensions and facilitate better communication, but they rarely impact the flow of work directly. No trust games will make your software less painful or make your desk less messy. These problems require systems, not psychology.
Here at AccelaWork, we don’t offer team building exercises and certainly do not recommend a company-wide nudist day. Instead, our emphasis is on leveraging stakeholder expertise to redesign and implement business processes. We, looking at process, not people. We teach people how to create schematics that outline business process, but we do not teach everyday communication skills. Finally, we support system implementation. You must ultimately make the change if you want to have ownership and be assured that change is permanent.
If you need help in transforming your methodologies, contact our business consultants today. If you’re planning a naked day at the office, don’t call us—we’ll call you.