I used to be an IT consultant. And to some extent, I still am.
As a consultant, my job was mostly involved with attending stream of meetings and preparing proposals. And as I mentioned in my previous article, the usual submission time is 12 p.m. Failure to submit on time, all your hard work went to the drain. And it means I had to pull an all-nighter to compete and submit it before the deadline. Even if I didn’t have any proposal to be submitted, my work day still filled with almost never-ending meetings, discussion, research and negotiation. Suffice to say, most of the time I barely had enough time for a proper rest, let alone a good night sleep (not even on weekend because several times the proposal must be submitted on Monday).
My solution? Siesta.
Yes, I even brought my own pillows (there are two of them) and I keep it under my desk (back then we had an open office). No, no blanket, not even a comfortable mattress or bed. Just a pillows with a relatively comfortable carpets or rugs, and almost every afternoon I head straight to either my superior’s office, meeting room, sofa, under the office desk or store room (worst-case scenario), depending on ‘availability’. Suffice to say, 20 to 30 minutes of power nap was enough to recharge my energy to pull an all-nighter and during that time, nobody complained much about my sleeping habit. Probably because I always managed to submit proposals on time (and even won some of them) and I never create any disciplinary issues (like turning my siesta room into a nookie room!). Then I head out for my lunch.
Just in case you didn’t notice, the companies I worked with before wasn’t deep pocket enough to prepare dedicated nap room or sleeping pod for us. But I had no complaint. And yes, sleeping is also one of my therapy to combat stress, as it’s like clearing out the ‘cache memory’ of anxiety and depression from my brain and wake up close to fully-energised*.
Napping In The Office
Back in 2013, I went to Shenzen, China for a corporate visit to one of major IT equipment vendor (no, not Huawei or ZTE). And guess what? Not only a number of their technical personnel (mostly programmers) had pillows on their desks, but also a quite thick mattress or comforter under it. When I asked the tour representative, her reply was that most of them pulling an all-nighter during the weekdays and took a short nap during afternoon. My colleague (it was only two of us from our company for that visit) was clearly amused and pointed his finger to me and reminded me about my own ‘office routine’. As for me, I was honoured to have people whom shared my ‘passion’ of power nap although we worked and lived thousand of miles apart. I’m not sure how it’d looked like every afternoon in their office, but I had an imagination that it’s like the image above.
However, from my personal view not all companies (or colleagues) accepts this kind of routine. Consider yourself lucky if your colleague didn’t whine, moan or even worse, make it an office gossip inside the pantry room or at water cooler station. Sleeping at the office, regardless of time or reasons still considered as big no in some organisations, regardless your work results.
But in this 21st century where it’s a dog-eats-dog world and every minutes of not doing your assigned tasks are considered as a waste, power nap has slowly creeps its way to show its benefits. Ariana Huffington is clearly a big fan and one of the most arduous supporter of power nap, as she used to collapse from exhaustion in 2007. So as the late Margaret Thatcher, where she sleeps in the middle of every afternoon. Bill Clinton and Leonardo Da Vinci are also famous power napper.
Power Nap Has Started To Go Mainstream
(EnergyPod from MetroNaps)
(Sleeping pods at Nap York. Image from Nap York’s official Facebook page)
Companies has started to realise the benefits of power nap and launched some sort of facilities to cater power napper.
Uber and Google for example, provides a nap room and nap pods respectively at their headquarters. Zappos has EnergyPod chairs. Ben & Jerry’s has been doing that for more than a decade. Not to mention Huffington Post (well, if the founder is a big proponent of power nap, it’d be a hypocrisy if they don’t provide one to their employees). Both Okuta and Hugo Inc (not to be confused with Hugo Boss), a Japanese home-renovation firm and internet consulting firm respectively, even allows its employees to take a 20-minute and 30-minute power nap at their desks or in the staff lounge. Consider that Japanese people are usually associated with hardworking and even some were overworked to death (a term called “karōshi”), this shows that power nap should no longer be considered as taboo or sign of laziness.
Some even started companies to cater to power napper. Take for example for Nap York (Business Insider’s writer wrote a great article here). I ran through their website and surprisingly, it’s unavailable (the sleeping pods, not the website) for new napper and one has to register in advance. Even in Singapore, they’re already advertised places near CBD where sleeping pods are offered for public. It’s definitely better than sleeping in some God-knows-where lounge or toilet!
Maybe one day the likes of WeWork and other coworking space provider will move into sleeping business as well. After all, their clients probably could use a proper place for some shut-eye. Or if any startup wanna move into this business and prove their MVP quickly, they can transform an ex-F1 motorhomes to a napping pods. The costs could be lower than leasing some building units and if it’s not working well in one particular area or district, they can always move it to somewhere else. They just need to figure out where to park it. Tough luck if they want to verify their business model in places like Singapore or Hong Kong.
Next Step – Official Power Nap Minutes
What are things usually contained in the employment letter when we joined a company? Obviously the official working hour. At some, maybe an extra line on official lunch time. If you’re on a shift-basis, maybe some extra line explaining each shift rotation time and period.
So what’s missing? An official power nap time.
Yes it is commendable for companies to start realising the benefits of power nap and even providing dedicated facility for it. But if we want the employees to really benefits from it, it should be an ‘official allocation’ of power nap minutes (an hour of power nap is a bit too much for me) for every employee so as to remove any kind of stigma potentially attached to it. And it’s up to each employee whether they want to take advantage of it or ignore them altogether and headed straight to lunch. After all, one of the thing Google was famously known for was their 80/20 rule**, where their employees can use 20% of their time for their hobby projects (Google News and Gmail are the the results of this policy).
After all, quite a number of us frequently exceeds the allocated lunch hour time to do some shopping, right? Not much stigma attached to it.
So let’s get more productive by taking some nap. Just don’t forget to set your alarm clock.
(Some alarm clock for heavy sleepers. Image from Google)
*I must admit that my spouse sometimes annoyed with this kind of habit, as I usually take time to sleep first before I need to make some serious decision. For me, it’s my own way to think clearly and rationally to solve a problem.
**I‘m using past tense because based on some articles, Google has quietly ended this program. If any of you can verify this, please let us know.