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Work-Life Balance: Naps
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Work-Life Balance: Naps - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Naps

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Naps

Office life can take it out of you. The constant attention to detail, the hours-long sessions staring at a computer screen, unwise choices at lunch, and the stress of performing excellently contribute to mid-day weariness often treated with energy drinks, coffee, cigarette breaks, or, for the more health-conscious among us, a quick walk around the block. We all know the feeling, and we know those bursts of caffeine or adrenaline are cheap substitutes for what would really help: a quick power-nap.

If we have private offices, we can sometimes sneak in a quick forty winks without anyone knowing, but even this “without anyone knowing” betrays a bias against napping whose time has possibly passed. Grabbing a quick nap at one’s desk in plain view of everyone comes with a stigma we can’t escape, and even if we could sneak out to our cars, the thought of someone spotting us is deterrent enough to keep us reaching instead for the Red Bull. Napping just isn’t a good look, and few of us are willing to risk the professional unseemliness of being spotted sleeping behind the wheel (figuratively and literally).

Six percent of U.S. companies surveyed in 2011 had employee nap rooms, according to an article by the Society of Human Resource Managers, while 34 percent of respondents allowed occasional naps at work, so it is clear that attitudes are changing. Zappos, the online shoe retailer, provides a nap room for its employees, and Hootsuite has a nap room wedged between its on-site gym and yoga studio. Employees report a boost in productivity and energy after short naps of ten to twenty minutes.

In one state legislature several years ago, a bill was introduced that would allow all state workers to take a nap in the middle of their work days. The state representative cited health and morale benefits, but his suggestions were mocked by the press and local commenters, and since he was under investigation for misusing campaign funds, his proposal fell mostly on deaf ears.

The negative stigma is ironic, considering the acceptability of stepping out for a fifteen-minute cigarette break, or the ever-popular two-person, eight-order Starbucks run, a daily afternoon ritual for many office denizens. A quiet, air-conditioned space for power-naps would appear to be a benefit to employees and employers. It’s working for some of the most progressive, forward-thinking companies in North America. Perhaps it’s time for the rest of us at least to take a look at it. In this age of telecommuting, where many employees can take healthy naps without anyone even knowing, the mid-day nap (and accompanying nap room) seems a workable, intermediate step to better work-life balance and better office health.



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Work-Life Balance: Naps - Executive Leadership Articles

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