Imagine employees with improved reaction time, increased logical reasoning and better moods. Now imagine employees who are less impulsive and have a greater tolerance for on-the-job frustration. Finally, imagine employees who are straight-up sleeping on the job.
Here’s the twist: The employees you are imagining are one and the same. Studies from sources like the Journal of Sleep Research and Nature Neuroscience have found that power naps pack measurable benefits for job performance. Companies ranging from international mega-corporations to scrappy startups are already reaping the rewards of providing naptime benefits.
Olympic-sized swimming pools, free gourmet meals, putt-putt golf courses and even ball pits are just some of the reasons The Daily Mail called Google “the world’s wackiest workplace” in 2017. But whether you’re Googling for a living in London or Toronto, there’s one other thing that makes working for the Big G even weirder: on-site sleep pods, complete with cashmere eye masks.
Created by MetroNaps, the EnergyPod that Google uses is a sci-fiesque sleeping bubble that features a zero-gravity napping bed, sleep music, programmed lights and relaxing vibrations all engineered to perfect the 20-minute power nap.
As David Radcliffe, VP of real estate and workplace services at Google, said in an interview with CBS, “No workplace is complete without a nap pod.” Apparently, a few other companies agree.
Globally renowned accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers eased into allowing employees to nap on the job. First, its offices offered a flexible working hours system that includes the option to clock in or out early and partake in generally free-form workdays. By 2017, Michaela Christian Gartmann, PwC’s human capital leader for Switzerland, confirmed to the Financial Times that the firm’s Swiss office had a sleeping room.
In fact, PwC even invited sleep experts to speak to its employees about positive and negative sleep habits and the importance of a good power nap. But, as Gartmann told the FT, it doesn’t take an expert to confirm that employees absolutely loved the new sleep room.
Ice cream is usually associated with food comas rather than power naps, but Burlington, Vt.-based Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is bucking that trend with dedicated nap spaces at its headquarters.
As a Ben & Jerry’s rep told Sleep.org, “We look out for our employees’ quality of life, and providing space and time for naps is just another way for us to take care of the people who work there.”
Taking care of those peeps also includes dog-friendly workspaces, yoga classes and on-site personal trainers for the more active ice cream makers out there.
IT and networking might not be the sexiest of fields, but Cisco Systems has leaned hard into the office nap pod trend. Like Google and others, Cisco has invested in MetroNap-made pods, which come at a cost of about $13,000 a pop. The pods’ designers, Christopher Lindholst and Arshad Chowdhury, position them as “sleep consultants,” and it’s definitely true that $13,000 is less than most consultants’ yearly salaries.
Huge corporations and Silicon Valley unicorns aren’t the only companies using naps to boost productivity. London-based Potato, an app creation and web design service, is in the know, too.
Potato’s need for naps is purely logistical. With clients in every time zone on earth, employees often have to work around time differences. That’s where a refreshing nap comes in. Declan Cashin, Potato’s content lead, told iNews in 2017 that “if a quick nap in the pod helps [our employees] get their best work done, then it’s well worth it.”
For Zappos, providing a nap room feels just as natural as providing health insurance. Speaking for the online shoe retailer, a rep told Sleep.org, “It was born from our focus on employee happiness and wellness. We know how much sleep impacts well-being.” Just to make sure their employees are snug as a bug in a rug, Zappos’ Las Vegas headquarters provides a couch, two recliners and a beanbag chair for supreme nap-ability.
Nike employees aren’t starved for on-the-job activities. The company’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., features a 60,000-square-foot gym and training center featuring weight rooms and yoga studios as well as squash and racquetball courts. Oh, it also has a full-sized soccer turf and Olympic-size swimming pool.
You’d think the last thing Nike employees would be doing is napping at work. But as it turns out, at that very same headquarters Nike’s workers have access to quiet rooms where they can meditate or catch a little shuteye just about any time they’d like.
No one wants their driver sleeping on the job, but if Uber employees want to catch some Z’s, they can do it at the company’s offices in India or the Philippines.
As with other companies, Uber’s move to allow employee snoozes is a lot more productive than it seems. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 7 percent to 19 percent of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep every day and 40 percent of them report falling asleep during the day at least once per month. An estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans report chronic sleep disorders. Allowing naps at work might not be the end-all solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.
White & Case
Speaking to the Financial Times about workplace naps in 2017, Francis Vasquez, a partner at the White & Case law firm, said, “From our perspective, it’s giving our people what they want. And happy employees make better employees, so we’re happy to make them happy.”
Vasquez reckons that White & Case’s 300 employees use their MetroNaps pods about five to eight times each day. He goes on to recognize that naps aren’t the end of employee desires. “One of the other desired features of our new office was improved coffee, so this probably got both ends of the spectrum,” Vasquez said.
You can’t talk about napping at work without talking about Arianna Huffington. The Huffington Post founder, who now runs Thrive Global, is so passionate about fighting the sleep deprivation crisis that she wrote the best-seller, “The Sleep Revolution.”
Naturally, Thrive’s SoHo office in New York features a napping and meditation room decked out in bedding provided by Coco-Mat. And if you think that HuffPo has ditched napping after Arianna’s departure, think again. As of 2017, the New York headquarters still features full-on nap rooms, which are constantly occupied and considered crucial to company productivity.
Huffington laid her philosophy out pretty plainly to Architectural Digest: “Studies have shown that naps boost our immune system, lower our blood pressure, increase our ability to learn, improve our memory and performance of complex tasks. What workplace wouldn’t want a free way to do all that?”