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Out of Office

Anyone who works in a reasonably sized company and has ever read their employer's HR handbook will know that it probably contains somewhere a sentence like "employees will dress appropriately at all times". But what is 'appropriate'? For me, it means fitting in with those around you and your location, and if that means going naked then that's just fine.

A few years ago I had the surreal experience of being in a naked project planning meeting. I was helping out with a small independent film production, and a client of mine called Amanda was handling casting and general logistics. We usually met in her offices in London, but as we already knew that neither of us would be in town for the next couple of weeks we were looking for somewhere else to get together to save travelling up there for no reason. After both of us suggesting various pubs that could work for the meeting, Amanda unexpectedly said "It's going to be really hot tomorrow. Why don't we do something different and meet on the beach?"

That sounded like a good plan to me, and knowing already that she would be based in south east Kent whilst I was in north west Kent, I suggested Whitstable or somewhere in that area as a good mid-point to meet up. She agreed, but said "What about that beach you mentioned the other week? Was it on Sheppey?"

The Isle of Sheppey is an island off the north Kent coast that is accessible only by bridge. There are lots of good walks out there and I often head out that way with my camera, but the only beach I had ever mentioned going to on the island was Sheerness Beach near Leysdown-on-Sea, and that is a nude beach.

I had no idea if Amanda realised what sort of beach she was suggesting. She had never talked about her holidays or hobbies so I had no idea if she was a regular naked person or if she would be wildly embarrassed or offended to find out that I strip off wherever possible. So I cautiously said something like "Do you realise that's not what you would call a 'traditional' beach? It's clothing optional, so there will be a lot of naked people about."

"Sounds perfect for this weather," she replied. "How about 2pm?"

I sent her the directions of how to get there, and then the following day I headed down to Sheppey, still very unsure what to expect. Had she just gone along with this choice because she didn't want to look surprised when I said about it being clothing-optional? Would she be sitting off to one side, still in her usual formal dress as the rest of the beach got naked around her? Would she be fine with everyone else being naked, but get deeply offended if I stripped off to join them? I had misjudged the traffic so I was about half an hour early as I pulled up into the parking area, and I realised that I had made a bit of an error in planning. The clothes I had put on that morning were the sort of thing I would wear up to a meeting in town, not for a trip to the beach, and unless I stripped off I would boil in the early afternoon sun. But until I knew how she wold react to the nudity I didn't feel comfortable getting naked to wait for her. It was a strange dilemma.

I walked slowly up to the beach and started to look for somewhere to wait for her when I heard a call from a few metres down the beach. Amanda was there with a girl I didn't recognise (she turned out to be another colleague from the film, but I can't remember her name), and they were both already naked.

Thank god. ;-) 

I put a towel down next to theirs, said hello, and stripped off to join them. We chatted for a few minutes, and then had a good intensive planning meeting with paper everywhere, laptops kept as far from the sand as possible (it isn't too sandy down there so we got away with it), and lots of cold drinks. And - for that day at least - we completely redefined "office attire".

Over the course of the afternoon I found out that both Amanda and her friend regularly got naked on beaches and elsewhere when on holiday, but neither of them knew anything about nude beaches in or around Kent. So when I mentioned Shellness beach in the office and then the need for this meeting had come up, they thought it an ideal opportunity to see what was around. They got down there really early and made a day of it, so whilst I had been walking up from the car wondering whether to strip off whilst waiting for them they had already been there for several hours.

We spent the afternoon there and stayed long after the meeting ended. We swam, sent selfies to friends, and then eventually went back home. Annoyingly I can't find any of the photos we took that day so the photo above is from another meeting I had a bit later with someone else. I never saw either Amanda or the other girl on the beach again (or naked anywhere else for that matter), but they loved the beach and both went there whenever they could after that.

So there's your challenge. This year, arrange a naked business meeting and tell us how it went.

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: Blog  Nude at Work  

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