Best Shoes for Work Reviewed for Quality & Durability
Work environments are extremely varied, that’s where only the best and most particular shoes for work come in. Depending on the activities you perform at work, you wear a different outfit and a different dressing code in general that suits your job the most. Shoes are part of your outfit too, and just like any other element of your outfit, it should match the kind of activities you’ll perform at work.
A very common mistake is to think that shoes must match your job in terms of appearance, rather than in terms of performance. While it’s important to meet the work etiquette, it’s much more important to meet acceptable comfortability and functionality standards. Don’t go out looking for something that will match your outfit the best, but rather look for a pair of shoes that match your feet and preferences.
People tend to underestimate the importance of comfort at work when it comes to shoes, ultimately paying a considerably high price in terms of discomfort. Additionally, people with active jobs that involve consistently standing and walking will find comfortable shoes to be paramount. If you have multiple long and active shifts ahead, non-comfortable shoes are simply not an option.
- Crocs Classic
- Internal grip
- Moldeable footbed
- Rockport Northfield Oxford
- Great grip
- Anti-slipping outsole
- Crocs Mercy Work Clog
- Massaging footbed
- No slip/skid outsole
Although some people seem to ignore this fact, something as simple as a pair of shoes can absolutely change your perspective, attitude, and performance at work. It’s this simple; you’re more efficient when you’re not focusing on how annoying your shoes are, and how bad you want to take them off at the middle of the shift.
14 Best Shoes for Work
1. Crocs Classic Clog
Crocs are known for having a fair amount of space within their design. This allows you to move freely with little to no restrictions. Additionally, the optional back strap gives you control of the fit – whether you want your crocs secured by it or not.
Classic crocs are arguably some of the most comfortable footwear options out there. They count with pretty much everything you can ask for; from breathable perforations to a water-friendly approach and all-day comfort materials.
Crocs have considerably reduced their cost since their original release, being now much more affordable than it was before. The fact that you can comfortably wear these to pretty much anywhere makes it worth the investment.
Lots of space
The design isn't fit for certain work environments
2. Crocs Mercy Work Clog
Crocs’ signature nubs found on the footbed act as tiny massaging agents that relieve the stress of your feet as you use them. They’re not only comfortable, but they also make the tension on your feet much lighter during and after work.
Work environment design
This model counts with features specially designed for work. The innovative Crocs Lock anti-slipping properties, an improved footbed and arch support, and the roomy approach makes them ideal for anything from nursing, to cleaning, and much more.
Just like the classic design, the Mercy Work is considerably cheaper nowadays. Their price tag makes these pieces even more comfortable than they already are, as they deliver great efficiency for a low cost.
- Massage footbed
- Anti-slipping outsole
- Great ventilation
- Adjustable strap
- Not suitable for semi-formal / formal environments
- Gets messy if sweating sockless
3. Rockport Northfield Oxford
The smart waterproof protection keeps away water thanks by applying a seam seal in combination with waterproof materials, including the insole. No matter what your job is, or the number of hours you work, water won’t be an obstacle.
Kinetic air circulation technology
Breathability is a critical factor of any shoe – especially if you expect to use them for a long and active shift. The Northfield Oxford counts with smart breathing technology that allows air to circulate in a specific pattern, preventing overheating and irritation throughout the day.
The Northfield Oxford isn’t the most accessible shoe for work – but it holds a much better cost-to-efficiency ratio than your average oxfords. We’re talking about multiple years of durability, equipping you with the right features to relieve your feet at work.
- Excellent air flow
- Water protection
- Appealing design
- Good grip
- Bulky frame
4. Crocs Santa Cruz 2
The Santa Cruz 2 Luxe isn’t what you would normally think of a pair of crocs because they’re loafers. The Crocs loafer approach is an excellent solution for those who can’t wear crocs at work – whether it’s because of the work dress code or other reasons. The Santa Cruz 2 counts with the comfort of the classic Crocs, and a very appealing design for both the office and casual wear.
Within the shoe lies yet the most comfortable footbed from Crocs. Combined with memory foam paddings on top of the Croslite foam base, these loafers are exactly what your feet need when taking long, active shifts at work.
Croslite memory foam paddings provide your feet with a sink-in experience, extending comfort throughout the whole day. These loafers are very flexible as well, allowing you to move around freely and in comfort.
Although they’re a bit costlier than the classic Crocs design, the Santa Cruz 2 loafers are still cheaper than the average office loafers – and much more comfortable, too.
- Durable build
- Ultra comfortable
- Meets office standards
- Not as breathable as their original model
5. Skechers Sport Flex Advantage
This counts with the cushioning and comfort of a sports shoe, counting with a soft footbed and memory foam that delivers customized comfortability. Arch support, flexibility, and breathability are some of the features you can expect.
Skechers’ Flex Advantage sports design is efficient both during work and training. The midsole materials, in combination with the air mesh elements are ideal for all-day wear. Whether you have to move a lot or just stand, this pair is a great choice.
The cost of this shoe is around the average of a sports shoe, and also the average value of our guide. The Sports Flex Advantage is by no means a painful investment, but rather a smart one.
The sports design may not be ideal for work dress code
6. Keen Kaci Full-Grain
This full-grain pair endures long shifts that involve a lot of movement. Its EVO foam footbed and insole are not only very comfortable, but also protected against bacteria.
The Keen Kaci is a very light shoe, engineered for you to forget you’re even wearing them. This model is highly breathable too, making their wear much more comfortable. The inner cushioning along with the leather paddings are fairly soft.
The Keen Kaci is a fairly expensive piece for work shoes. They’re highly stylish, but this comes with a stylish price, too. However, if you’re going for these, you won’t lose your money.
- Protection against bacteria
- Leather durability
- Lightweight shoe
7. Nurse Mates DOVE
The upper build consists of a layer of full-grain leather upper, which is not only durable, but also comfortable. The pebble leather design makes provides stain protection and an easier wash, additionally including leather cushioning on the collar and double side goring.
The Mate DOVE is arguably one of the best shoes for nurses out there. Its design specifically aims at nursing – offering the most optimal qualities for it. However, this efficiency comes at a price higher than the average of this list.
The DOVE is Nurse’s best seller for a reason – and being super light is one of them. This shoe applies resistant and functional, yet light compounds. The EVA foam compound, for instance, improves your stance and relieves stress without adding any bulk to the shoe.
- Great for nurses
- Flexible and supportive
- Nursing-oriented (may not be as efficient at different jobs)
8. Skechers Flex Mcallen
The upper build consists of a mesh build with a slip on closure, maximizing the air of flow within the shoe. This mesh panel extends all the way to the lateral bands, allowing air to enter from pretty much any direction.
Ideal for offices
The memory foam cushioning on the insoles makes standing and walking superbly comfortable. These cushions are molded by the pressure of your feet, resulting in a personalized insole. The elastic side gores makes walking effortless, and also prevents loafer surface caking.
Skechers meet the average value of this list, and that’s a fair price considering the unique engineering on the Mcallen. You won’t be needing a second pair of these anytime soon.
- Gore flex technology
- Consistent flowing of air
- Comfortable materials
- Attractive design
- Loose structure
9. Reebok Work 'N Cushion 2.0
The smooth flexibility of the materials allows users to walk in the most efficient manner, resembling the natural flex of the foot when walking barefoot. The flex groove extends all the way to the forefoot, providing you with the mobility you need at work.
The Work ‘N Cushion 2.0 is a solution to almost any feet width, offering a huge variety of sizes and dimensions. A specially designed heel works along the EVA midsole and the leather upper build to obtain responsiveness, cushioning, and durability in a shoe that’s comfortable for wide feet.
Although it’s above the average value of this list, the Work ‘N Cushion 2.0 is not that hard to access. It’s costlier than some shoes out there, but certainly delivers professional quality.
Supports wide feet
Flexible and comfortable
The strap holes deteriorate easily
10. Crocs Specialist Vent Clogs
Crocs’ patented croslite technology is a material that is softened by the pressure of your feet, creating a customized frame with the shape of your feet, similar to memory foam. This material is not only utterly comfortable, but it also provides a much better grip and stance.
The Specialist Vent counts with an anti-slipping outsole that prevents accidents at work. This outsole also prevents skids and outsole marks, also counting with great traction thanks to the rubber-like outsole compound.
It’s out of the question – Crocs in general delivers a great ratio of cost to efficiency. Not only do their products offer high quality, but their price is hard to beat by other work shoes.
No skid marks / outsole marks
Gets messy if sweating without socks
11. Rockport Eberdon Loafer
Rockport adhered Adidas’ cushioning technology adiPRENE for a superior foam padding under the heel, removing excessive stress off the heel, which is the most area that suffers the most. This technology is combined with Rockport’s soft footbed for the greatest comfort.
Following their belief that the perfect shoe hasn’t been yet invented, Rockport incorporates a casual, yet innovative structure to this shoe. The materials flex naturally without caking, and the elastic goring help your feet flex in a much more natural way.
The Eberdon Loafer sits above the average value of this list, but it certainly beats the average standards for loafers too. The application of innovative technologies and a smart design make these shoes worth their tag.
Hard to break into
12. Clarks Haydn Harvest Flat
The outsole is flexible enough to walk naturally and comfortably, but it’s also firm enough to act as a stable base for a much better stance and walking balance. The smartly distributed outsole considerably increases walking balance.
The upper build is comfortably soft on the inside, and the internal lining is flawless. Additionally, the shoe’s frame and materials are flexible, allowing users to walk with less effort.
Clarks’ loafer feats a fair price for the quality it returns. The cost is around the average value of the list, and it doesn’t require a big investment.
Not good for driving
13. Champion Gusto Runner
What makes this shoe so good are its performance qualities – the smooth flex, the very light materials that allow air to flow, and the comfortable inner. People who walk and stand a lot will find these features to be amazing.
Performance shoes are known for being utterly light – and the Gusto Runner is no exception. These flexible and breathable materials are near to weightless, not only making them very comfortable, but also much easier to move.
The value of the Gusto Runner is fairly accessible – and it’s a great value for such a good shoe. The running shoe not only delivers the qualities you need at work, but also are an option for many other uses.
Not suitable for sockless wear
14. G.H. Bass & Co. Wyatt Loafer
The outsole of this shoe is especially design to provide a better grasp of the car pedals. This also delivers anti-slipping features to drastically reduce your chances of sliding or slipping. It’s also very flexible, allowing users to walk in a natural matter.
The inner build materials of this shoe are soft as butter, providing a very soft and comfortable support and cushioning. The premium fabrics also support barefoot wear.
Bass’ Wyatt loafer is above the average value on this list, and is fairly costlier than some other shoes. This shoe, however, counts with very delicate fabrics, which includes genuine leather and leather stitching.
- Butter-like inner
- Driving outsole
- Genuine leather
- The outsole is too thin
The best shoes for work are those who fit your style. There’s no pair of working shoes that works the same for two persons, and even if there were, that woudln’t mean they’ll fit you too. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind the kind of job you’ll perform, but it’s also important to remember your own style and feet shape.
Regardless of the quality of the shoe, if it lacks space in the inner room, and you have wide feet, you simply won’t get along. You also want to look for the most optimal choice of shoes in relation to your work environment. Although they might feel comfortable, nursing shoes aren’t necessarily adequate for chefs, for example.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Shoes for Work
When standing or walking for a prolonged amount of time, it is utterly important to be equipped with comfortable shoes. People who work long shits – especially those shifts that involve constant movement or standing – know the difference between a comfortable pair of shoes and a pair of discomfortable ones. When it comes to work, comfort is much more than just a feature of your shoe; it will have an impact on your work too.
Wearing the wrong pair of shoes can considerably reduce your efficiency at work. We’re not just talking about walking or performing physical tasks with uncomfortable shoes that reduce your mobility. There’s another very important factor that takes part: the psychological factor. It’s this simple: if your shoes are constantly bothering you, you’ll have a hard time concentrating or doing your best. Furthermore, even if you’re able to work in discomfortable shoes, it’ll require greater effort.
If you’ve ever owned a pair of discomfortable shoes, and chances are you have, then you’ll know how annoying they are. Despite the shoes being physically possible to wear, you’ll be reminded with each step how uncomfortable they are. A shoe that doesn’t fit you well, or that features the wrong materials, is very hard to ignore. It’s helpless but to constantly think of how annoying they are.
But it doesn’t stop there, as a wrong fit or build isn’t just annoying. Depending on the shoe (and your feet, too) wearing uncomfortable shoes can even get to be painful. You must be thinking discomfort and pain are very far apart, but when it comes to footwear, these two things are separated by a very thin line.
So, what makes a shoe comfortable?
To begin with, the selection of materials is paramount. This is the main flaw of cheap shoes – they usually employ very generic materials that offer little to no benefits, as well as poor comfort. Quality shoes, on the other hand, are specifically designed to provide all-day comfort. Keep in mind, though, that certain aspects of any type of shoe ultimately depend on the anatomy of your feet, as well as your preference.
You would normally think the inner build materials are responsible for making a shoe comfortable. While these materials certainly have an impact on comfort, there’s much more behind an adequate shoe build than just the inner side. Comfort isn’t just limited to the contact of your feet with the shoe materials; in fact, the biggest discomforts are generally from other elements.
For instance, the lack of cushioning is one of the biggest factors that considerably decrease the comfortability of a shoe. The longer you wear them, the longer your heels and arch will be exposed to direct stress. On the other hand, a shoe that features rich cushioning and absorbing materials make a huge difference in comfort. EVA midsoles, for example, have proven to deliver an extremely efficient support and cushioning system, ultimately increasing the shoe’s comfort.
Cushioning and Support
We previously mentioned something regarding discomfortable shoes being potentially painful – this section provides further insight regarding that topic.
Cushioning and support, aside from being a very influencing factor in comfortability, are also key points to your performance at work. Something as simple as enhanced support can make a huge difference in the way you walk, the amount of time you can stand, and the after effects of these two. Most people tend to underestimate the importance of cushioning and support, ultimately being surprised by the importance of these.
By acting as a supportive platform, adequate working shoes will notably enhance and correct your posture. Shoes make much more than just support your feet; they have an impact on your knees, your hips, and even your spine. Poor-quality shoes, for example, fail to act as a solid support. Because of this, a standing posture can place a lot of stress on your spine; especially on your lower back.
Having adequate support allows you to have a much more natural posture. This not only stops your working efficiency from decreasing, but it also has very important health benefits in the long term.
Cushioning is arguably the most important factor of working shoes. Regardless of the type of work you’re doing, it’s paramount to place some protection between your feet and the surface. Cushioning plays a massive role in shock absorption, and there’s a lot of users that underestimate this feature as well. Shock absorption is not something you need for sports performance; it’s a feature that reduces impact during all times – included walking.
It’s a big mistake to assume that there’s no impact or shock during walking. If you’ve ever used a pair of flat shoes for a long and active shift, you know what we’re talking about. Cushioning can be the difference between an utterly comfortable working experience, and a very uncomfortable day (as well as next-day heel soreness).
Well-cushioned shoes offer great protection for your feet. As natural as walking may seem, it still fatigues your feet – especially zones of high stress such as the arch and the heel. Furthermore, this protection extends even up to the knee and hips, as impact doesn’t stop at your heels. If you’ve ever felt the urgent need of taking your shoes off at work, then you know what a lack of cushioning feels like.
Support and cushioning make much more than just comfort you. By providing you with physical advantages and improvements, these two features can, and will, boost your efficiency at work. They may not be able to move faster or become better at what you do, but they do have a huge impact on your ability to walk and stand.
Lastly, the impact is a factor that accelerates muscular fatigue. The more exposed you are to impact, shock, and muscular stress, the faster your muscles will grow tired. Thus, these two features also allow you to go through long shifts with considerably less physical effort (or at least the effort it requires to move actively).
Depending on your work environment, this factor may be less important, just as much as it can be critical. Even for people who work in fairly ventilated environments, a shoe that lacks breathability can be a pretty big obstacle. Furthermore, aside from blocking the flow of air, some of these shoes can even make it much worse by not allowing heat to exit either.
First off, let’s analyze the importance of breathability in a shoe. Regardless of the kind of work you perform, a completely closed you will retain the heat. This is an influencing factor in sweating, and the longer it retains the heat, the faster (and longer) you’ll sweat, too. Additionally, heat concentration has multiple other consequences. For instance, it makes your feet much more susceptible to irritation.
Additionally, if you work in a particularly hot environment, the circumstances become even worse. This is the case of chefs, along with other workers that are involved in kitchens or another particularly steamy area. The heat around this kind of work environments is considerably higher than others, and thus require a greater degree of breathability. The heat affects your body in general, and the feet are no exception to this.
The accumulation of heat within the room is already a big enough factor to decrease your efficiency – let alone wearing a shoe with bad breathability features. The thicker the shoe build, the less breathability it will deliver. This is part of the reason why sports performance shoes feature such a thin design.
This is also the case for people who work consistently under the sun. Aside from other preventive equipment offering adequate protection, you’ll need a breathable pair of shoes. This is especially important if your shoes are black, as this color does an excellent job of absorbing heat.
Moreover, the generation of sweat also brings additional consequences on its own. The humidification of a closed shoe exposes you to the development of bacteria – which at the same time bring bad smells with them. But it doesn’t stop there; these bacteria, along with the humid environment within your inner shoe, make you a perfect candidate for feet fungi.
Breathability has a role in the comfortability of a shoe, and the quality of a shoe can be directly judged based on its ability to let the air flow through it. Generally, the upper build is the element responsible for the breathability of a shoe. By applying materials such as mesh or air mesh, the flow of air within the shoe increases considerably.
The lack of this feature will absolutely mess up even the best of shoes. If your feet become irritated due to the concentration of heat, your efficiency will decay, regardless of the rest of the features and elements the shoe offers.
We highly recommend looking for shoes that include breathable panels, especially around the most common areas of heat concentration. For maximum efficiency, the panels should be located in the forefoot (just above the toebox), the internal and external curve of the shoe (the sides), and the tongue (or the lacing area for that matter).
Flexibility is the very basis of any motion that involves walking, jumping, or running – it’s as simple as that. The lack of flexibility translates into a very poor quality of comfort, proper form, and efficiency in general. A shoe that doesn’t allow you to properly move around at work is no good, as it will not only be considerably uncomfortable, but it will also slow you down.
In order to deliver a quality build, a shoe must count with flexible materials. Unlike many people think, flexibility is not something that goes just on the outsole. At first sight, it does look like the place where the most flexion happens – but it’s not the only one. The upper build materials, for example, play an important role in the flexibility of a shoe. Stiff upper builds will not only make walking more uncomfortable. Its lack of flexibility may also deteriorate the materials when the shoe bends, as it’s nearly impossible to keep the upper from bending along the rest of the shoe. This leads to a caked surface on the upper build.
Performance-wise, flexibility is a pretty important factor when it comes to movement. It’s simply part of even the simplest motions, such as walking. The lack of flexibility not only damages the shoe material, it also places unnecessary stress on parts of your feet such as the arch. If you’ve read some of our other guides, then you’ll know that flexibility is also involved in the natural walking motion.
Leaving shoes aside for a moment, our instinctive walking motion involves the foot flexing. This flex starts at the forefoot and gradually elevates to the arch. A shoe that lacks flexibility won’t fit this motion – but additionally, it will hurt your feet, as they will still try to flex as you walk. If you believe this is something you can avoid or ignore, try walking with your feet absolutely flat and straight without bending them. Aside from looking weird, walking like this places additional stress on your heels. If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably someone who stands a lot; thus, heel stress is the last thing you want.
Additionally, people who count with certain arch conditions suffer the most from shoes that lack flexibility. This is because flexibility is directly related to arch support; the lack of flexibility will ultimately result in the lack of arch support. Regardless of the condition, whether it’s high arch or flat foot, the lack of flexibility will considerably enhance the amount of stress on the arch.
The weight of shoes is something highly underestimated by people who stand or move a lot at work. This scenario is pretty similar to that of performance scenarios; the weight difference may not seem like a lot initially. However, the longer you use them, the greater the impact the shoe weight has on you.
It’s pretty simple; if a shoe weighs an ounce less, it’s an ounce off every single motion. While you’re not moving, you won’t even notice the difference. However, after a full shift of walking, standing, and moving around at work, heavy shoes will be your worst enemy. On the other hand, a lighter build will notably enhance long-term comfort and it will also reduce post-work heel and arch pain.
The main factor affecting the weight of a shoe is the materials. Usually, the heaviest element of shoes is the midsole, as it’s the thicker component of a normal shoe. While it’s important for shoes to take a minimalist approach, it’s also important to maintain the quality of the materials. Minimalist materials are lighter, but also less resistant and durable than thicker materials – they also offer less protection.
The upper build, for example, is much lighter when composed of materials such as mesh and nylon. Leather, on the other hand, is heavier but also much more protective (although it ultimately depends on the type of leather). Additionally, thin materials lack the density to act as a frame for the shoe.
Because of this, the ideal upper build design relies on a combination of both thin, light materials and other firm materials that provide structure. Alternatively, certain synthesized materials deliver the features of resistant materials in a lightweight manner. We highly recommend looking for materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), with properties arguably better than rubber, and in a much lighter approach.
Ethyl-vinyl acetate (EVA) is another popular compound making its way into the shoe industry. This material counts with a very wide variety of uses thanks to its adaptive composure. The foam-like material is widely used by manufacturers for insoles and midsoles mostly. EVA midsoles are not only much more efficient than the traditional rubber soles, but they also weigh a lot less.
These synthetic materials are applied in density rather than in volume. This means manufacturers can fit 100g of EVA in a midsole in which they would only be able to fit 60g of traditional rubber. To add more rubber, the midsole would have to be bulkier. EVA, on the other hand, increases density without adding volume to the shoe – also being more effective as there’s more of the compound present.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How durable are shoes for work?
A: They are just about as durable as any other kind of shoe; do keep in mind the amount of times you use the shoe, as this is ultimately what decides how fast it will degrade. The lifetime of a shoe worn 5 times a week should reach 2 years or more.
Q: Where to buy shoes for work?
A: Both retail stores and e-shopping are good options. However, we recommend Amazon purchases; here you’re likely to find a much greater variety, and usually for a much better price, too. Your purchase is protected by Amazon’s policies.
Q: Which shoes should I buy for work?
A: You should select your shoes epending on the type of job you have and the activities it involves, refer to our criteria for further information.
Q: Should I get a flat sole or a raised heel for work?
A: Flat soles are thinner, and thus do not offer as much cushioning as heeled shoes. Yet, this doesn’t mean flat shoes are bad; it’s a matter of preference and work dressing code.
Q: Should I get a custom insole for work?
A: Customized insoles make a huge difference. A shoe may adapt to your feet shape, but a sole that molds to your foot is by far the most optimal choice for a comfortable experience.
Q: Can I use running shoes at work?
A: Performance-wise, you certainly can. Sports shoes count with features such as flexibility, absorption, and cuhsioning that are critical for comfort at work. However, the dressing code at some jobs may not allow it