Can an afternoon doze be the solution to boost our productivity?

A power nap, a cat nap or a siesta, whatever you call it, we’ve all been known to enjoy them at one time and it has been suggested that, should they be of the right length, they can boost our energy levels. A lazy Sunday in front of the fire, on holiday by the pool seem the most common settings for such but could they become the norm in the UK workplace?

It is an idea that has been embraced by several blue chip firms including Facebook, Nestle and GlaxoSmithKline. With Google and London’s Olympic Village going one step further and building sleep pods for employees to enjoy throughout the day, but especially in that post-lunch hour lull. Whether these facilities are actually used and more than a PR stunt, remains to be seen, but it is a subject that has been raised more frequently in recent years.

On the continent it is common place for things to go in to shut down for a period in the afternoon. This is, however, heavily weather related and while we will of course moan during all four seasons, our climate does not really lend itself to this. It does seem though that this idea in the UK is starting to filter out from the tech whizzes in Silicon Roundabout to more conventional SMEs. There is scientific evidence that suggests a nap or just a period of ‘switching off’ in the afternoon can have a positive effect on productivity.

Of course, with every good argument there is a flip side. It is suggested that such a culture could lead to employees taking the proverbial and extending such nap sessions to an inappropriate length of time. Sleep experts have also raised that napping can lead to a poor sleeping habit where employees could actually end up feeling groggier after a nap and consequently struggle to sleep at night.

SMEs are responsible for 49% of the UK’s GDP and so can legitimately lay claim to be the backbone of our economy. Resources and employees commonly seem to be stretched and time is extremely valuable, therefore productivity is crucial. I don’t think it would be an earth-shattering statement to say that, in this online and smartphone era, people at work can get distracted. Whether it’s planning your summer holiday or checking up on the weekend’s football scores, minds can wander when sat at a desk all day. Would this time be better spent recharging the batteries for 15-30 minutes to ensure a productive afternoon? The debate rages on…