By: Winston Mattis
If you are like some people, I know myself included; there is a particular point in the day when you become fatigue. This is the time of the day when your eyes feel like fifty pounds of lead, are so drowsy that being at work is pointless. In my case, it happens like clockwork. I can typically tell when it is about two o’clock in the day. For me, two of the longest hours of each day are between 2:00pm and 4:00 pm. These are the two hours that I need to grab a snooze to rejuvenate myself. Most times, I need no more than fifteen minutes to be revived and fully functional all over again. My productivity hits rock bottom each day in those two hours I euphemistically call “my down time” each day.
My productivity increases tenfold after my afternoon siestas. There is absolutely no doubt about that. It is almost as if I am on steroids once I get my afternoon siesta, so for me there are two highly productive times during the day between 6:00am and 1:00pm and the five hours after 7:00pm at nights. I am not so arrogant to believe that I am not unique, it is likely that many people experience the same thing that I do all the time.
Drowsiness and fatigue while at work affect innumerable people. There are many factors that contribute to fatigue and drowsiness at work. Some of those factors are job related, while others arise from outside forces.
An employee’s work schedule, particularly shift work, is one systemic factor that may contribute to fatigue, particularly when there is insufficient sleep time between shift changes, yet strict adherence to master-servant law could give rise to the termination of an employee’s employment who is caught sleeping on the job, why? Employers are masters of their own dens and they can demand that an employee remain awake at work at all times, regardless of the obvious productivity impact and in some cases attendant health and safety risks. Though judicial decisions may temper that right, the fact still remains that sleeping on the job is something that many employers do not tolerate.
I have been quite lucky, had I not been self-employed for most of my life, I probably would have been fired from my job many times over for sleeping on the job. Luckily, I had the luxury of being in situations that I could close my office door and take a cat nap on the antique chaise lounge I bought myself specifically for that purpose. No longer do I feel compelled to read the same half of a sentence five times without comprehending a word, I simply get up and grab a power nap, as I call them.
My own set of experiences lead me to ask whether there are companies in corporate Canada and America that recognize the value of providing employees with a place to pull a cat nap in circumstances in which they feel fatigued.
Admittedly, there are scores of occupations for which catching a short nap on the job poses Health and Safety and other risks that no employer can reasonably assume.
A crane operator in the midst of demolishing a large high rise cannot be permitted to take a cat nap or dose off in the middle of performing his or her duties, similarly serious production and other issues can arise when an assembly line employee doses off on the job. Having said that though, there are plenty of occupations for which a short mid-shift nap hurts no one. Large law firms for instance, often provide juniors with cots for them to sleep/pull a power nap as they work through the night or day.
Europeans grow up with the siesta practice; seemingly, Europeans grew up with a cultural tradition of taking a siesta from work mid-afternoon. Perhaps because of the European tradition, or alternatively despite that tradition, corporate North American leaders are slowly recognizing the productivity value endemic in providing certain occupational classes with a place to rest, rejuvenate and revive themselves with a little mid-afternoon sleep.
Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post is an ardent advocate of helping its employees to rejuvenate. Huffington Post reportedly provides its employees with beds under the guise of a productivity rationale. Among the impressive list of corporations that reportedly provides employees with a place to nap are: Google, Nike, and The House of Representatives
Despite the anecdotal remarks I make about my productivity I improve after am afternoon snooze. There is growing empirical evidence supporting the assertion that providing employees with opportunities to take a nap at work boots productivity.