Did a San Francisco company boost morale by having its employees all work in their birthday suits for a month?
The San Francisco-based online magazine The Bold Italic
recently did post an article
describing how it had experimented with boosting office morale by having all its employees work in the buff.
The article explained that the idea came about during a discussion of why it was that people felt more productive when working at home. And then came the Eureka moment: "When it came to light during post-work happy-hour chitchat that nearly all of us worked from home sans pants, it clicked. Perhaps it wasn’t the lack of walls that was hindering our work at the office; maybe there were simply more barriers that had yet to be unbuttoned."
The experiment was said to be a resounding success: "the benefits were astounding — everything the open-office trend promised and more... Sure, our heating bills went up a bit, and we could collect enough rogue pubes to furnish the scalp of a small doll, but it’s a very small price to pay for this level of workplace satisfaction."
The "Naked Office" story soon began to do the rounds of social media, promoted by various web media sites as a quirky, general interest story. For instance, it's discussed at gulte.com
, and (in French) at Virgin Radio
. The story seemed to gain particular traction in Europe.
But what these web media sites overlooked was that the The Bold Italic
had posted the story on April 1st. It was an April Fool's Day hoax. And, in fact, the magazine had removed the story from its site after the 1st. (You can see some of the article and its photos still at imgur.com
.) The article was a spoof of the "Open Office" concept, in which employee productivity is supposed to be improved if you make everyone work together in open spaces.
In an interview with the French version of Slate
, Jessica Saia (one of the authors of the article) confessed that the response to the article surprised everyone at the magazine:
In addition to comments on the site (which were terribly outraged by the lack of a towel to cover the buttocks), I received tons of emails from people asking questions about the experience, many of whom wanted to try it within their company. There were so many who believed that it was true! I honestly had no idea that the article would be so convincing. I was sure that almost everyone would understand that it was a joke just by reading the title, if not the text itself.
[Note: I translated Saia's comments from French.]
The naked people in the photos apparently weren't the actual employees of The Bold Italic
. They were hired models.
There's a somewhat odd postscript to this story, because one week after running the story, the magazine called it quits
and closed its doors for good. However, the decision to cease publication apparently had nothing to do with the Naked Office story.