ZZZZ...Nap Pods at Work: Why Smart Companies Allow Napping at Work

May 16, 2019

Woman falls asleep at desk in front of computer
Erin Ollila

In the past, napping at work was majorly frowned upon and getting caught with your head down on your desk may have even gotten you fired. But, what would happen if a company encouraged nap pods at work as a means to get rest during the workday? Would work output suffer or thrive if employees were allowed and encouraged to nap when needed?

There's a new phenomenon of napping at work, supported by companies such as Google and Nike. Will this trend work in your organization?

Can a Quick Nap Improve Job Performance?

In a Nature Neuroscience study, researchers focused on the perceptual performance of their subjects at four intervals during the day to determine how napping during the workday would affect perceptual deterioration (or not!). Without napping, their performance worsened as the tests went on. However, those who took a 30-minute nap in between the testing stopped what they considered "deterioration" in their output, and the subjects who were napping at work for 60-minute intervals between tests even reversed the deterioration. Impressive, right?

Getting Decision-Maker Buy In

If you've ever thought of installing nap pods in your work space, you'll have to convince the company decision makers to implement a trend that's rather unheard of in the professional world. All companies inspire to focus on work-life balance, and here is a perfect way to implement that real practice in company culture.

First, present the facts, and show decision makers that naps actually improve performance. In an article for the New York Times, Sara Mednick, professor and co-author of the "Nature Neuroscience" study, says, "Naps had the same magnitude of benefits as full nights of sleep if they had a specific quality of nap."

Then, find a space where this trend could be implemented. You might find buy-in being easier than you thought, but physical space concerns are your biggest hurdles.

An article for Forbes, Christopher Lindholst, CEO and co-founder of MetroNaps, a sleeping solution company, says, "Millennials have a more flexible attitude to execution of responsibilities and are more open to 'sleeping on the job' facilities that boost performance than their predecessors. When we started over a decade ago, we got thrown out of a few offices for making that suggestion. Today, it's not a question of 'if' a company should have a nap installation, but if there is floor space and budget available." If you can present both the study findings and the space need, there's a good chance your request could get approved.

But, What Are Nap Pods at Work?

A nap pod could be something as ordinary as a private, secure and darkened room set up with a bed or reclined seating that employees can escape to for short recesses. Nap pods can also be something as fancy as a specialized seating.

Lindholst says, "We saw people falling asleep at work. We saw them going to sleep in their cars and head to the restrooms to nap. A workplace solution for fatigue was clearly missing. What was needed was a dedicated piece of equipment that took up minimal space, could go just about anywhere, was easy to maintain and, of course, comfortable and simple to rest in."

As of the Forbes publication date, MetroNaps' EnergyPods retail for $12,985 with options to rent. This zero-gravity sleeping device was also designed to calm employees to sleep — and help wake them up — with the help of special music and voice guides.

Are Napping Policies Necessary?

Once nap pods are installed, it's best to implement a policy about napping at work. In this, you'll want to include information such as how often employees are allowed to nap — if there are set limits — and how long each nap should be. If only one nap pod is available, you'll likely need to devise a booking system where employees can set "nap appointments" so they won't be disturbed during their down time. However, don't forget to leave some buffer zones in the workday for employees who suddenly realize they need to recharge to put their best foot forward.

While nap pods at work are just beginning to become popular, this trend may make a big impact on the happiness and performance of employees. Wouldn't you want your organization to be the front runners of such a major workplace shift?

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