One of the most fascinating office interior design trends of recent times has been the inclusion of designated sleeping areas in the workplace. In the past, sleeping on the job might be considered an offence worthy of dismissal, but research has demonstrated the significant benefits associated with allowing employees to take short naps.
Indeed, some of the most successful companies around, including Ben & Jerry’s and Uber, have installed ‘nap rooms’ in their offices, while the likes of Procter & Gamble and Google have gone a step further, introducing sleeping pods to the workplace. So is this something you should consider for your interior design project?
The Benefits of Sleep
The importance of sleep has long been established, yet research over the last few years has paid particular attention to the benefits of having short naps. According to ASAP Science, short naps can increase cognitive function, ultimately boosting creativity and productivity in the workplace. Meanwhile, other studies have found they:
• Reduce levels of stress and anxiety among employees
• Improve information retention and memory by up to five times
• Significantly enhance concentration and attention to detail
• Boost tolerance levels and reduce frustration in the workplace
• Help to regulate impulsive or emotional responses
Furthermore, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Sleep goes some way towards explaining the impact a lack of sleep has on the business world. In fact, according to the study, insufficient sleep costs U.S companies alone as much as $63 billion in lost productivity – and that’s before getting into the other associated problems.
The Case for Sleep at Work
Clearly, the best possible solution would be for every employee to get an appropriate amount of sleep every night and scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles have found that six to eight hours is optimum. However, in the modern world, this is simply impossible to achieve.
Whether employees have to travel frequently on business trips, whether they have young children who keep them awake at night, or whether they suffer from sleep disorders, every workplace will inevitably have its fair share of under-rested employees, costing them in terms of lost productivity, absenteeism and errors.
“Most employers do not allow sleeping – there is still that prejudice,” says William Anthony, a Boston University professor in rehabilitation sciences. “It is thought of as lazy and unproductive, when often it is exactly the opposite.”
The Sleep Pod Revolution
The sheer amount of research on the subject has forced office designers to take action, with some choosing low-tech options. For instance, businesses like Uber and Ben & Jerry’s have installed dedicated ‘nap rooms’ in their offices and have simply given staff permission to take short naps during their breaks, without fear of repercussions.
Yet, others have opted for more advanced solutions. Google, Procter & Gamble and PwC have all installed so-called ‘sleeping pods’ – futuristic pods where employees can sit and take a nap in complete silence, away from workplace background noise.
“A lot of businesses, especially in the US, have shown interest in [sleeping pods] as a relaxation area around the concept of well-being,” says Lee McCormack, designer of the Oculas OV2 sleep pod. “It’s not just sleep, it can be light therapy, relaxation, or time for reflection or meditation.”
It may seem counter-intuitive to pay employees to sleep on the job, but the time under-rested employees spend at work is largely wasted anyway. For the sake of 15 minutes out of the day, evidence suggests workplace napping should be embraced, regardless of whether you opt for a low-tech or high-tech solution.
Office Interior Design