Nowadays, our economy is largely focused on employee outputs, not inputs. And in this so-called knowledge economy, performance is more about ultimate results, and less about the amount of hours clocked.

In this knowledge economy, an article on The Conversation explains, companies need employees to be alert and not just active. They need to be engaged, not just present. They need them to focus on producing the highest-quality results possible. And there’s one thing that can make this happen: sleeping on the job.

The exhaustion epidemic

The article, written by Arianna Huffington, shares a study from the National Safety Council in the US, which reveals that nearly 70% of employees are tired on the job. No doubt the picture would be similar here in the UK.

This workplace fatigue is predicted to cost the US $140bn every year in ‘societal expenses.’ Many of us simply aren’t getting enough kip; it’s recommended we get between seven and nine hours per night, though a study last year revealed the average Brit gets just six hours and 19 minutes.

The issue is so big in the US that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has described inadequate sleep as a public health epidemic.

The argument for nap spaces

The blurred boundary between work and home is partly to blame for the high level of workforce fatigue.

Most of us have become glued to our smartphones, which means we can be contacted at any time of the day or night, whether we’re actually working or not. As the article notes, this essentially puts us on call – and what happens when people are on call? They don’t sleep as well.

So, there are two things happening here: societal trends show we’re getting less and less sleep, while technological trends that blur the work-home boundary are intensifying our inability to get a good night’s kip. This is a major problem, given that work tires us out and sleep is one of (if not the) most important recovery mechanisms in existence.

To tackle this issue, the blurring boundaries should work both ways. If employees are expected to be available after hours, they should be allowed to snooze at work.

The article argues that if companies are going to interrupt employees’ leisure time and impact recovery time, they should at least offer opportunities for the needed ‘recovery’ at work.

Naps and performance levels

Studies have shown that naps as short at 10 to 30 minutes can boost alertness, limit fatigue and enhance performance. Napping could be as effective as drugs at lowering blood pressure, so reducing stress and absenteeism could be two more benefits.

Companies including Ben & Jerry’s and Nike now allow workers catch 40 winks during the day, with Arianna concluding that the trend represents the ‘workplace of the future.’ What do you think about the idea? You can tell us later – we’re off for a nap…

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