How comfortable are you with seeing the hairy toes of your coworkers?
This is the question being posed by Gusto, a San Francisco-based startup. What the startup actually does — helping businesses with human resource management tools — is less interesting than its unusual office policy, which may be a perk or a nightmare, depending on your stance on sweaty bare feet. According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s profile on the company, the company has a no-shoes policy.
When you visit Gusto, you are asked to take off your shoes. To ease their transition into a shoeless world, guests are given disposable paper slippers. You will see Gusto’s 275 employees padding around their Pier 70 headquarters in slippers, socks or in the all-natural choice of bare feet.
At Gusto, you need to take off your shoes
How did this policy get started? At the request of its CEO, who grew up in a shoes-off home.
“We want our office to feel like a home, to be comfortable and authentic,” Josh Reeves, CEO and cofounder of Gusto, told the Chronicle. “We started Gusto in a house in Palo Alto and had a no-shoe policy there, and we all grew up in shoeless houses.”
For some of us, the thought of showing off our feet off in all their sweaty, odorous glory would be too intimate. But for these employees, that’s exactly the kind of informal, familial vibe the policy is supposed to inspire.
“Taking off my shoes makes me feel like I’m at home,” an unnamed Gusto employee told Business Insider. “It creates more of a family dynamic, which helps us do collaborative work as a team every day.”
If the thought of seeing your boss’ feet grosses you out, then maybe being a “Gustie,” as the employees call themselves, isn’t for you.