In pursuit of a new work culture: Sleeping in office

Siesta time - from good old Infosys days

Siesta time – from good old Infosys days

To put it simply: Is it OK to sleep in office or not? Is it a good thing to have an environment where people are encouraged to sleep / take a nap if they need to? Or should we cultivate an environment where dozing off is frowned upon? This topic I’m certain would be one in which everyone would have a personal opinion. And I’m also certain that the views of the individual need not necessarily represent that of the organisation he or she is associated with.

Traditionally, we have certainly had an office culture in which sleeping while in office was looked down upon. It is regarded as a mark of unprofessional behaviour and a person who engages in this practice might be considered  lazy & ineffective by his peers and / or the organisation. And most of our office environments and organisation culture is built around these tenets.

But consider this? Why do we have an organisation or an office in the first place? It’s a structure that will allow us to assemble and do work more efficiently. So the heart of any company policy or any decision that it upholds therof is this concept of productivity. If a decision that is considered to have an overall positive effect to the productivity of the organisation and the people that choose to work with the organisation, then it generally gets a thumbs up from across the board. Notwithstanding personal viewpoints and subjective biases that come into play in organisational decision making, its safe to assume that the overall intent is enhanced productivity. It’s this guiding philosophy that defines the culture that drives the establishments from the military to Google: from the way the number of people in a military unit is the decided to the decision to give people free food at office in Google. I could elaborate on the subject more, but for today let’s just keep this specific to sleep.

If the overall intent is enhanced productivity, there is merit to considering the option of having an environment and culture that favours sleeping in office. Google for instance has nap pods on their premises. Infosys has dorm rooms. Research (and Im sure personal experience) also indicates that a short nap can be really refreshing, allowing our brains to be way more efficient. Research on body clocks and the energy levels associated with it indicate that the energy levels of the body reaches its absolute low around 2pm-3pm which typically is also the time following lunch. And Im sure there is also merit in the argument that its once a person feels really sleepy, its better sometimes to just let him or her take a nap rather than continuously try to ward off sleep. Some do prefer to sleep in the afternoon as well. And then again, that also differs from person to person.

Given the context, Im personally wary of any blanket policy on the matter. But I would certainly love to have an environment & culture where its ok or even encouraged to take a nap to refresh yourself if one feels like. From my personal experience, I find that post noon is an absolutely unproductive time for me. I get very little done in the time following lunch till about evening. Even when I’m in office and working during these times, I generally find myself tired or whiling away time or both. And again speaking from personal experience, if I get sleepy I NEED to sleep. And I don’t think there is a single organization in which I have not slept during office hours and at office premises. So I guess that fairly clarifies that I do have a personal vested interest as well in seeing such a policy happen in our work environments :)

So basically, personal preferences aside, how do we decide? I understand that at the end of the day, most things don’t have a clear cut right or wrong answer. There is not one solution that’s fits all. I understanding that like most other decisions and matters in life, this too would eventually require a balancing act. Let me conclude by bringing to your attention a balancing act of another nature, that I am particularly proud of still. This balancing act that Im referring to is somehow, if not directly, related to the topic at hand.

Now how about that for a balancing act!

Now how about that for a balancing act!

The pictures in the blog post were  shared by my colleagues during my days at Infosys. These picturess hopefully will also serve as some food for thought!

The full set of pictures shared by them is also provided below

Where do you stand on this issue? Those in favour of such a work culture, what are the things that needs to be taken care of to ensure that such an arrangement would not adversely affect the overall intent?

  • Amit Subodh

    I would prefer to have a separate small place for sleeping and not the workstations.

  • Manu Chandra Prasad

    A 20 minute nap just after having some caffine,really boosts productivity. Works for me really well. :)

  • naveen

    Well from my experiences and my personal body clock i will get a power nap symptom quickly after lunch not always but at times when there is heavy stuff for brain in the morning. There may be a need to be pinged in but in reality wat i found in myself is i just need 5 -10 mins max for that powerful nap which refreshes the brain. Believe it after that the productivity will be triple the time as in morning and can stretch to long time in the evening. Its not a regular afternoon sleep but its the key point when your brain needs a pause for mins. I am sure every one will have this clock. Now when you know you need that power nap, can make an open statement to your organisation or mgmt about your unavailabily for that time so that the trust factor is always ensured much more. Btw many organisations in Japan and Taiwan has a compulsory sleeping time during their shift and reports increased productivity in output post lunch shifts.

  • Soumya Radhakrishnan

    Nap is great as far as it doesn’t transform to sleep. I know people who take naps in their cars in the parking lot to prevent themselves from awkward situations.