Power nap

Why companies are cozying up to napping at work

August 18, 2011: 12:21 PM ET

There's some evidence that companies are becoming more lenient -- even encouraging -- toward at-work napping. What's fueling the shift?

By Cotton Delo, contributor

A MetroNaps napping pod

FORTUNE -- In the adrenaline-charged world of high finance, napping might seem like the ultimate taboo, perhaps even grounds for dismissal, instead of an acceptable alternative to coffee and five-hour energy drinks for employees seeking a mid-afternoon lift.

But when Manhattan-based private investment fund Kodiak Capital Group began to cover international markets back in January, someone suggested getting a comfortable couch for an office next to the trading bullpen so that employees could take 15 to 20-minute power naps.

"Some guys get to work at 8 [a.m.], work until 5, go to rugby practice until 8, go home, and then they'll work the Australian market in the middle part of the night and go to sleep," says  Kodiak's managing partner Ryan Hodson. "Those guys maybe find themselves needing a power nap around 2 in the afternoon." Hodson estimates that a third of his 15 employees now take a power nap on a regular basis.

Americans are logging longer hours at work than ever before, and there's some evidence that companies are becoming more lenient -- even encouraging -- toward at-work napping. According to an employee benefits survey of 600 American companies conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 6% of workplaces had nap rooms in 2011, a slight increase from 5% the previous year. Even more suggestive, a 2011 poll of 1,508 adults by the National Sleep Foundation found that 34% of respondents say their employers allow them to nap at work, and 16% said their employers also have designated napping areas.

While those who doze off at the majority of offices may not have their manager's blessing, napping is not all that taboo in the tech industry, where startups often need their developers to work long hours but also want to maintain a laid back, anti-corporate culture to attract top talent. And a number of tech giants have also begun to tout their nap-friendliness.

Google's Mountain View campus has received quite a bit of attention for its "Energy Pods" -- futuristic-looking white capsules that rent for $795 a month or sell for $12,985 where nappers can recline out of other people's sight and set timers to wake themselves up with vibrations and lights. More

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