As soon as we go outside our home we put on our shoes. They protect us against dirt and damages, but they are also a type of shield that we either put on or off depending on how comfortable we feel. With other words; it is possible to influence how much we feel at home by either wearing or not wearing shoes.
In several ways the brain is quite banal: it creates associations that put us in moods. The behavioral theory by Ivan Pavlov shows how it is possible to create associations wihtin animals through sensory input such as sound (perhaps you recall Pavlov's doggs?). If the dog gets a treat every time it hears a certain sound, the dog eventually associates that particular sound with getting a treat. Hence, the two input establish a valued pattern.
Obviously, we as humans would like to get acknowledged for being more developed than dogs (cause we are). However, the mechanism is not much different within humans. Throughout life we associate stimuli, form patterns and grant them meanings. It is not something that happens on a very conscious level (the brain would get tired from being conscious in these kind of processes) . Instead, it tells us why some of us have a positive relation to certain foods, names etc. It is all about experiences, repetitions and the meaning, these are being given.
In many cultures, one takes off their shoes when entering a home. Hence, taking off the shoes may quickly give us the association and feeling of being at home, comfortable. What's less comfortable about it is if we do it in a completely different context.
At work there is usually a clear differentiation between being at home and being at work. Often there is some sort of minimum-dress code, but hey.... Wouldn't it be incredible to give the employees a feeling of being at home? Safe? Comfortable?
This is the exact reason why there is potential in creating a more safe culture at work if, let's say, once in a while the employees took off their lunch e.g. at lunch break. Like a gimmick or 'event'. Just once in a while. Potentially, it could give the company some identity and a shift in energy. And if it doesn't create the desired output, guess what. You'll just put on your shoes again and keep them on.
I would love to hear from you if you choose to give it a shot. Perhaps the conversations will shift from being about value chain optimisation to being about what you cooked last night for dinner and with whom, when having your "breaks".