Balancing act: Readers agree: Afternoon naps should be allowed in workplace

Published: Monday, May 30 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap."

So said former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, quoting Robert Fulghum. And based on the surprisingly passionate responses to my recent column on napping in the workplace, I think many of you would agree with her sentiment.

In that column, I referred to claims that a short nap in the early afternoon can make employees happier and more productive during the day. Almost 200 readers voted in an unscientific poll included with that column, and nearly 84 percent agreed that naps should be allowed in the workplace.

As a person who always feels like he needs a nap, I voted in favor of work siestas. But some readers disagreed.

One person wrote in an online comment: "You're on the clock. If you can't make it through an eight-hour shift without having to nap, then you shouldn't be working and wasting your employer's money."

Others echoed those remarks.

"This is a great idea if you work for a 'mattress testing company,' wrote one reader. "Otherwise, it could result in the need to look for work."

Another wrote: "If you feel the need to nap at work, then consider this: What if you are depending on someone to help you and he decided that rather than really do his job, he's tired, so he's napping. Maybe he's a flight controller. Yeah, napping at work — what a great idea. It could also be considered stealing from your employer if he's paying you for that time that you nap.

"Schedule your own time better. And quit with the excuses and the whining. I've worked 13-hour days for weeks on end and never napped and did the job I was paid to do."

I did point out in the original column that I was referring to workers who aren't in life-or-death jobs. I wouldn't want an air traffic controller taking a nap while my plane was on final approach. But not everyone has that kind of occupation.

Most readers who replied to the column were more positive about a quick nap's positive effects on the body and mind.

"Why be embarrassed by napping at work? People who take time to smoke at work aren't embarrassed. People who have non-work-related conversations at work aren't embarrassed," wrote one person in an online comment. "If napping isn't allowed, the quality and speed of the work suffers because the person is tired."

Another pointed out the role of naps in the work/life equation. "As I see it, work/home are fairly meshed now," read this online comment. "I see nothing wrong with engaging in personal activities on occasion at work, as I do have to engage in work activities at home. If a nap makes a person more productive, I say take it. In the end, being someone in management, I care more about results than whether someone is chained to their desk from 8-5."

I agree with this comment wholeheartedly. Nearly every day, I spend time handling work issues at home. Many of us have 24/7 jobs that require that kind of attention.

The key, as this comment points out, is not whether an employee snoozes for 20 minutes during the afternoon. It's about productivity. And, based on my experience as a manager, happy workers are generally more productive and committed to helping a company meet its goals.

So, if we take this to the next level, should businesses offer "quiet rooms" in which people can catch some rejuvenating slumber? Have you ever worked at a company that offered that kind of space? How did it work out? Please let me know.

(And if you think milk and cookies should be provided, too, don't forget to mention that.)

Email your comments to gkratz@desnews.com or post them online at deseretnews.com. Follow me on Twitter at gkratzdesnews and on Facebook on my journalist page.

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