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Is the workplace the right place for 40 winks?

13/01/2017

There can’t be many people who have never had to resist the urge to drop off at work whether that’s during an interminable meeting, at your desk, or in the staffroom at lunchtime.

But could napping at work actually be better for your workforce and help increase productivity? This story by BBC News examines the science behind why we might be tired and how to nap successfully but what are the practical implications for employers?

Employment lawyer Julia Fitzsimmons from Progressive HR look at the issues:

The main focus for an employer is being clear about what is and what is not acceptable. Sleeping on the job - not acceptable. Sleeping at work - may well be sanctioned in the right space and at the right opportunity.

If you wanted to establish a work nap etiquette, a clearly stated and communicated policy would be advisable. For example, the employer may not be expecting employees to change into pyjamas. Does the employer need to consider single sex sleeping rooms or is it a 30-minute nap at a desk or in a quiet common room that is envisaged?

Any policy will depend on the needs of the business but the employer needs to make clear what is permissible and the behaviour expected of other colleagues during such quiet times.

Employers need to consider the practical issues of implementing such a policy – how long will naps be permitted for? What if employees oversleep? Will naps be ad hoc or at set times? Will employees have to work extra hours to compensate for their nap time? Who will “police” any abuse of this?

Employers would also need to consider that while a nap may improve the performance of some employees, others may not wake from a nap energised, and this may negatively impact productivity.

A policy such as this would also be nigh on impossible in some industries such as manufacturing where breaks have to be tightly managed and work has to be done at a specific time.

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