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Are naps coming back with us to the office?

A third of remote employees have taken midday naps during the workday, and the return to the office could be a rude awakening.

Are naps coming back with us to the office?
[Source Images: treety/iStock]

While the pandemic has been harrowing and, at times, terrifying, there have been some upsides to working from home for the past two years.

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Swapping a rush hour commute for a stroll down the hall was nice. Ditching corporate clothes and “career pants” for T-shirts and shorts was freeing. But, for many people, the best telecommuting perk was the ability to take a nap whenever the need arose.

As omicron fades and infection rates tumble, though, a growing number of companies are summoning employees back to the office. Does this mean the days of weekday napping are in danger? Ultimately, it could depend on where you work.

Some big tech firms, including Meta and Google, have “nap pods” in offices around the world, areas that are converted to quiet spaces that have individual cubicles for people to sleep. Other companies that were offering dedicated nap spaces in pre-pandemic days include Ben & Jerry’s, Cisco, Zappos, and Nike. The CEO of consulting firm Brooks Bell is also a big advocate of the nap. “I’ve found napping can become a gateway to other healthy activities,” he wrote in Fast Company in 2020. 

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London-based consultant group ProNappers was formed in 2020 to illustrate to businesses that a quick nap can be beneficial for the workforce—and has worked with 20 companies, including Deutsche Bank. So if anyone has their pulse on the state of the catnap, it’s them.

Unfortunately, the looming return to the office hasn’t, so far, resulted in a surge of interest in additional nap spaces, the group notes.

“Sadly, we have not seen companies overtly wanting to promote naps for their employees,” says CEO and founder Cara Moore. “We often preach to the converted when we talk to the well-meaning folks in charge of well-being in companies . . .  but when it comes to actually getting them to install a nap space or promote naps, we reach a brick wall.”

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That could be frustrating for employees on a lot of levels. Naps have been shown to increase workers’ alertness as well as offer emotional and energy boosts. And during the pandemic, more of us have been sneaking in a quick nap during the day.

A late-April 2020 survey by career firm Zippia found 33% of workers admit to napping while working from home—and in some states, that percentage was as high as 67%.

“So many people we speak to have said that one of the best things about working from home is that they have been able to have a nap in the day and work more effectively afterwards as a result,” says Moore.

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If your office isn’t nap-friendly, you can begin the conversation. Perhaps most important is to actually acknowledge that you do nap and, if you’ve got some pull in the company, block out map times in your shared calendar.

“Many senior people within companies nap, but they do so behind metaphorical close doors, and don’t talk about their secret energy hack,” says Moore.

People whose jobs offer a hybrid model moving forward could still sneak in a few naps per week while at home, but tech firms, start-ups and even established businesses could make the shift back to the traditional 9-5 a bit less traumatic,  Moore says, with what amounts to a slightly different break than most people already take each day.

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“I think that bringing naps to the office could help people transition because going from telecommuting back to the traditional work environment will be exhausting for many,” she says. “And being able to shut their eyes without shame for 10 to 20 minutes in the day could make all the difference.” 

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About the author

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Learn more at chrismorrisjournalist.com.

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