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Q&A: Boosting productivity by sleeping on the job

Q&A: Boosting productivity by sleeping on the job

Q: I’ve recently read that many businesses are recommending employees take a power nap at work to reduce stress. What are the advantages of doing this and how do I implement naps at work?

A:The amount of time people are spending asleep is reducing, with the average UK adult only getting six hours and 49 minutes sleep each night; less than the recommended seven to nine hours. Employers are trying to combat this by embracing workplace naps and allowing employees to take short sleeps during the working day. Although there are advantages to introducing power naps, employers might need to consider some other areas too.  

Larger companies are more likely to embrace the workplace nap initiative, with Google installing sleep pods and Nike having rooms to sleep or meditate in. However, all employers could benefit from introducing power naps because 15 to 20-minute naps in the afternoon are said to increase productivity and creativity as they combat sluggishness and fatigue. Staff will also be more alert after the nap, leading to fewer mistakes and increasing the quality of work produced. 

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The first things to consider when implementing power naps are the space and resources available to employees to do this. Employers do not need to go as far as introducing sleep pods with variable lighting and sound systems. Instead, this could be as simple as providing a quiet room with facilities to control the lighting and lie down or recline. 

Many employers might think that the take-up of power naps in their business would be small and not have any significant impact on work. This might not always be the case and they could find most of their staff would like to take workplace naps, especially in high pressure or creative industries.

To ensure adequate staffing and service levels, employers can put in place rules about workplace naps. These could state when naps can be taken, for example between noon and 3pm. There could be rules on how many staff can take naps at the same time and the location of the facilities available for this. Having full clarity about workplace sleeping will limit negative impacts and reduce the likelihood of employees abusing the system. 

Although naps are great at increasing productivity, if the reason employers wish to introduce these is to reduce workplace stress, this might need some more attention. Employers have a duty to make a safe working environment for staff and they must take all reasonable steps necessary to create this. Where employees are showing signs of workplace stress, employers must assess their workloads and meet with staff to discuss how they can support the employee and improve their mental health.  

In addition to introducing power naps, employers could consider extending flexible working schemes to let employees work around their sleeping patterns. It is commonly understood that some people are morning people, or 'larks' while others are night people or 'owls'. Allowing employees to choose their shift pattern or amend their current working hours to a routine that works best for them will help the business get the most out of staff.