Money & Business

To Boost Productivity, Encourage On-The-Job Naps

By / Jun 29, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Economic incentives, meaningful feedback, and adequate training are all ways to boost productivity at the office, but what about naps? Here’s a case for why your association should consider offering workplace naps, as well as some ways to incorporate them into your office.

At my daughters’ preschool, the kids take a nap every day. After lunch, they brush their teeth, change into pajamas, and pull out their cots and sheets for a little afternoon siesta. The idea is that they’ll wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day, which for them consists of arts and crafts and the playground.

Napping during the 9-to-5 isn’t just for kids anymore. Increasingly companies, such as Huffington Post and HubSpot are building naps into the design of their offices. Google, Capital One Labs, and Ben & Jerry’s are too. “The [nap] room itself is really part of the larger corporate culture here and the company’s belief that a happy employee is a productive employee,” a Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson told the BBC.

But there’s some data to back up this trend too. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity. But naps may be able to help reverse that: A study in Nature Neuroscience [login required] shows that a 30-minute nap can halt an employee’s lack of productivity and a 60-minute nap can enable renewed productivity.

So, how can associations incorporate napping into the workplace? Hint: It takes both a change in design and culture, as well as a little education, according to Natalie Dautovich, the National Sleep Foundation’s environmental fellow.

Change your design. Creating a space for workplace naps can be as easy as designating an unused office as a nap room and fitting it with a reclining chair. However, those with a bigger budget  can invest in a fleet of nap pods— designed by companies like MetroNaps—which are aesthetically pleasing and designed to filter out light and office noise and encourage relaxation.

“Similar to our sleeping environments, an ideal nap environment is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable,” Dautovich said. “Creating a relaxing, calming environment that employees can consistently use for napping will help to strengthen the associations between the napping space and sleep.”

Adjust your culture. “Although naps are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for many cultures around the world, they are less normative in the United States,” Dautovich said. However, she said that the tide may be turning. More and more workplaces are recognizing “the power of sleep as a tool for increasing, rather than detracting from, productivity.”

Still, there’s still a stigma around workplace naps, which means employers interested in incorporating naps into their office cultures will likely have to become cheerleaders for them, by leading through example and reassuring employees that naps are acceptable—even encouraged—in everything from one-on-one catchups to all-staff meetings.

Educate your employees. Both the time you schedule your nap and the length of time you nap affects a nap’s efficacy, and it’s important to relay that information to employees to ensure they’re getting the most out of their snoozes.

“Timing the naps for the post-lunch dip in alertness will enable employees to capitalize on a naturally occurring lag in energy,” Dautovich said. “Also, limiting naps to 20 minutes or providing enough time for longer naps (e.g., 60 to 90 minutes) will ensure that employees avoid the lethargy that can come from waking in the middle of a sleep cycle.”

Although the best pathway to productivity is healthy, regular sleep at night, there are times when that’s impossible—and a quick nap can give employees the alertness and energy to remain productive throughout the workday.

What are your thoughts on napping at work? Please leave your comments below.

Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. More »

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