Working naked: a company strategy that pays off?

For one month, the employees of a small business in California experimented with working in their birthday suits. This piece of news, which spread across the web like wildfire, proved to be an April Foolsjoke. Here is why the hoax worked so well.

On 1 April, The Bold Italic, a communications agency based in San Francisco, posted an article online entitled, "What Our Office Learned Working Naked for One Month". If the hoax worked well, it’s because it had every appearance of being feedback on the very latest trend in the organization of human resources and corporate culture.

The author of the dummy text, Jessica Saia, explains the company's willingness to re-appropriate different trends in human resource management and combine the open-office space with nudity. Why nudity? Because it is a strong part of San Francisco's identity and an expression of cool. In her article, she refers to "Naked Fridays", a plan along the same lines as "Casual Friday", which was put in place by a British psychologist in 2009, in a business where relationships between employees had deteriorated because of the crisis. By taking off their clothes, they were supposed to let go of their inhibitions in order to talk to each other more openly.

In her fake news report, Jessica Saia writes that, despite the lack of walls in the office, there were still barriers hindering her colleagues' work. She goes on to explain that the final obstacle to a perfected working environment is clothing. In short, introducing nudity at work would be the absolute culmination of a trend championing open-offices, because it encourages the flow of information and therefore employee productivity.

To make the article believable enough to trick Internet users, it was illustrated by a series of photos of undressed The Bold Italic employees, taken during a meeting, at their workstations or on a break. Gentside, Atlantico and even Virgin Radio took the bait, putting the news on their websites.

With the open-office trend not only allowing you to save space but also to break down the distances between people, and with the co-working trend which brings freelancers together to work in the same space, it is not surprising that this mischievous hoax fooled so many people. Once the April Fools’ joke was revealed, Jessica Saia said that everyone had so much fun together on the photo shoot that it would perhaps be interesting to give the experiment a try, as long as the strangeness of the situation could be overcome quickly… 

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