San Francisco – They say that one of the tricks to successful public speaking is to imagine everyone in the audience undressed. Now a growing number of Bay area businesses are asking, why not just get naked?
Every day Brett Stevenson boards the company shuttle bus with flip-flops, an iPad, organic coffee, and no pants. After spreading out a sanitary seat cover, he sprawls out and checks his email. “Gotta let the boys breathe,” he said.
Then at the Mountain View headquarters of Cumulus, a new cloud-based content aggregation platform, Stevenson walks into the wide open “energy hub” on the main floor and takes a seat amid a dozen other naked men and women. There are no walls, and the swivel chairs are made with a proprietary odor-resistant mesh.
“We like to say our culture is collegial, ” Cumulus guru Chaz Michaels beamed. “Not just an open door policy. No doors. No walls. No clothes. No limits.”
But according to workplace experts, office nudity may threaten productivity and provoke sexual harassment. “Your bottom does not contribute to the bottom line,” business consultant Dave Green said. “Unless you’re a stripper.”
To Michaels, that thinking is as outdated as dial-up modems. “In twenty years we went from business to business casual, to smart casual,” he continued, bending over in downward dog on a yoga mat. “It’s time to get just plain casual.”