Heels, makeup, food: Common disruptions at the workplace

Bottom line: Be mindful of the impression you want to make.

In Summary

• Depending on the speed and force of the person walking, these sounds could indicate a sense of authority, anger and  hesitation.

•One of them is to camouflage . Women who are anxious and insecure tend to use makeup to appear less noticeable.


When it comes to disruption within an organisation, the biggest danger isn’t necessarily external - it’s often the destructive ways that take place within the work environment. 

Have you ever wondered about how disruptive heels, make-up, food, fashion among others can be at the workplace?

Well, this is the reason why they can cause disruption.



As we arrive at work by 8 am latest by 9 am, there is that one colleague who always keeps on coming late to work with an intention to disrupt our work.

RISKY: Women who regularly wear high heels report soreness, fatigue, numbness and bunions of the feet.
RISKY: Women who regularly wear high heels report soreness, fatigue, numbness and bunions of the feet.

By 10 am, we hear  "Click, Clack" "Click, Clack ". So we raise our heads to see the person who is entering the office with that kind of noise.

Alas! it is our very own Betty Atieno*. Looking at her walk in her red stilettos leaves me wondering about how she can walk with that kind of noise in the office.

Depending on the speed and force of the person walking, these sounds could indicate a sense of authority, anger or hesitation.

In most cases, sharp-pointed heels fill a room with a womanly aura or a misanthropic vibe.

Whether intended or not, these shoes are sure to get the wearer attention.



These are cosmetics such as lipstick or powder applied to the face and used to enhance or alter the appearance of a person.

Generally, around 90 per cent of women apply makeup. Research shows there are two primary reasons why women wear makeup.

Lips makeup.
Lips makeup.

One of them is to camouflage. Women who are anxious and insecure tend to use makeup to appear less noticeable.


Women who want to be noticeably more attractive tend to use makeup to be more confident, sociable and assertive.

But then too much makeup can lead to a digression of ideas at the workplace.

When you sit down one on one with a female worker who has overdone her make up, in most cases, work will not proceed as planned.

Instead of discussing a topical issue, in your mind, you will be asking questions like "why do you have such a heavy make up on your face? Can I give you tissue so that you can wipe it off, Do you think you are now beautiful?"

Though it increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability and competence, overdoing it erases all these perceptions.

A makeup expert June Nyambura Njiru tells the Star that makeup should ideally not cause any disruptions at work.

"...unless you're busy powdering your face instead of submitting your work," she says amid concern.

Noting that makeup is used to complement one's beauty or appearance, Njiru says that a person will know she has overdone it when she looks different from her skin tone.

"That is why it's usually advisable you apply less then you can add depending on what you want to achieve," she says.

Njiru notes that women apply makeup depending on what they want to achieve.

"News anchors apply makeup for screen purposes so that to remove the shine and to look smooth also applies to video vixens and photo shoots," she said.

"Some women have gone through a rough patch, for example, the abused maybe someone got burnt so they use it to hide scars."

She said that some women use to please their men while others have self-esteem issues.

"So they use it to comfort themselves. Some like us are makeup artists so we need to sell what we do," Njiru adds.


Makeup should not really define who you are instead it should complement and not complete you.

 Be mindful of the impression you want to make and focus on using makeup to enhance your natural beauty and not cause disruption.


"Linda amekam!, ee amekam! Joh emefika? ee!  huskii harufu ya food? (Linda has arrived! Yes she has arrived! You cannot smell the food?"

This is how employees at a typical newsroom respond when they sense the smell of food around them at around lunchtime.

Plates of food at a restaurant/File
Plates of food at a restaurant/File

Our sense of smell is key to the enjoyment of food, so it may be no surprise that people react to such smells when food is brought to their doors in the office.

When you want to know that food is a disruption, at around 12.40 pm, Linda* brings her sumptuous meal to the office.

The aroma from her variety of food greets the office with many who are concentrating left mouth-watering.

After five minutes, even those who were busy with what they were working on, leave their seats to go and grab the food from Linda and Joe*.

What if the food was not being brought to the office, would the employee leave his or her work to go eat by 1 pm?

Your answer will probably be yes or no depending on your personality and schedule.

Food expert Hosea Kandagor tells the Star that companies should have a cafeteria where they eat their foods.

"You need to have designated areas where employees eat. Without this, anybody eating inside the office or food taken to the office will always make people shift their focus to food and not work," he said.

You need to have designated areas where employees eat
Food expert Hosea Kandagor

Kandagor says etiquette from staff is also highly recommended.

"You cant start eating at 12 pm at your desk and yet people are working. What if the soup pours on your laptop? You will also be making people want to eat your food," he said.


Most organisations have policies on how their employees need to be dressed when they go to work.

In most cases this is to ensure safety standards or maintain a specific image of the company.

Frida David's designs
Frida David's designs

Dress codes represent the 'collective selection' that we wear for different 'spirits of the time' as described by

But when given the opportunity to wear anything that suits an individual, people usually go for all manner of dressing.

Based on a 2015 study, researchers found that those who dress formally are more likely to be seen as intelligent, feel more powerful, create better relationships within the workplace, and make better decisions.

What about those who dress casually but do it in a manner that is disruptive?

A good example is that of a woman coming into the office wearing a yellow off-shoulder blouse with green sweat pants coupled with red stiletto heels.

It might be fashion but alas! She will be the first person I will spot while she comes into the office, why? Because the colours she is wearing are 'shouting'

Your clothes selection is a prime example of indirect communication, as fashion can make or break a first impression.


When choosing what to wear, remember to match the formality and style of those with whom you are meeting.

If you’re uncertain, it’s better to dress up than down. 

These are some of the tips for women; Pressed button-up shirt, Slacks or knee-length skirts, mild-colour or neutral dresses, non-oversized jewellery and light makeup, Low heel shoes, Casual Fridays: neat jeans or skirt and a blouse.

Tips for men at work; tucked in polos and button-up shirts, Slacks with a belt, Closed-toe and polished shoes, Well-groomed facial hair that follows work standards, Casual Fridays: neat jeans and a shirt without design.

Basically, fashion is an ever-evolving, context-specific, and highly-personal thing.

Again, this depends on your taste!