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Should You Nap in the Office?

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We’ve all been tempted to doze off at the office. One report, however, explained that some companies are actually encouraging their employees to sleep at work!

A story on Yahoo News explained the trend:

With Americans averaging fewer than seven hours of sleep per night—and around 20 percent suffering from sleepiness during the day, according to a recent Stanford University study—many companies have turned to the humble nap in an attempt to stave off billions in lost productivity each year. Following the rise of workplace perks like lactation rooms, gyms, and child-care facilities, Nike workers now have access to nap-friendly “quiet rooms” that can also be used for meditation. Google, a forerunner in employee perks, has a number of futuristic napping pods scattered throughout its Mountain View (Calif.) campus.

Jawa, a small mobile technology company in Scottsdale, Ariz., has two resting rooms—one with a similar pod, the other with an old-fashioned couch—that are popular among programmers working long hours. Many airlines, including Continental and British Airways, allow pilots to sleep during long international flights while colleagues take over the controls. (The practice is prohibited for domestic flights by the Federal Aviation Administration.) Other companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s, have no official policy but provide unofficial space for the practice and don’t bat an eye when someone spends an extra half hour snoozing in the massage room. “If you have employees working 16-hour days, you want to give them an opportunity to take a power nap,” says Melissa Gierginger, a spokeswoman for Jawa.

It’s no secret that most of us need more sleep. With employers competing to offer the best perks, this might seem like a positive trend. Plus, research supports the incredible value of naps. From the same article:

Sleep scientist David Dinges helped found the modern science of napping in the early ’80s at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, short periods of sleep have been shown to improve alertness, memory, motor skills, decision-making, and mood. All while cutting down on stress, carelessness, and even heart disease.

“Tiny naps are much more refreshing than people tend to realize,” said Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in England. “A short nap in the afternoon will get rid of sleepiness without interfering with nighttime sleep.”

worker productivity suffers from tiredness

© Flickr user Marco Arment

Some companies offer “sleep rooms” filled with specially-designed chairs for taking a quick forty winks. But is this just an underhanded strategy to try to encourage workers to put in 16-hour days? Or is it the beginning of a new era in which we tell employees that we trust them to do their work and manage their own time?

We have talked about telecommuting and how it affects employee satisfaction. The same philosophy applies to our view on sleeping at work:

Please conduct your work wherever and whenever you feel you can be most productive, most efficient, most effective, and most satisfied.

If an employee has an unorthodox way that he or she can be crazy effective at work, then by all means, go for it! The days of automatic 9-5 are dying (if they aren’t already dead) and that’s a great thing for the workplace. If a mid-morning jog helps you focus in, then lace up those running shoes. If listening to opera while you brainstorm helps, bust out the headphones. And if a nap helps, well then go ahead and fluff up that pillow.

We don’t need sleeping pods and cube farms. Instead, we need to respect our employees enough to not worry about when and where they are working. Change your perspective. Contact our consultants at AccelaWork today!

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