In pursuit of a new work culture: Sleeping in office

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!

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?