The BBC has just published an article about Public Health England’s warning of the dangers to health of inadequate sleep and the negative impact this can have on work productivity.
Public Health England’s possibly rather radical suggestion is that employees should be given places to rest in order to boost productivity. But can this really work in the increasingly pressured environment of many of the UK’s businesses?
Well, the suggestion is not as unreasonable as it sounds. There are many academic studies, particularly from the world of sport, that show the positive impact that more, higher quality sleep has on performance. Becky James, the double Olympic silver medallist sprint cyclist made a post on Twitter that details a week’s sleep pattern in which she is in bed and asleep by 9.30pm every night (including Friday and Saturday), sleeping 10 hours or more on each occasion. If only…!
If employees are taking some time out of their working day to rest, then, it seems that overall productivity and employee engagement may well increase, both of which are clear contributors to business success – and a better bottom line.
We recently conducted our own study that follows this argument, highlighting the positive impact that agile and flexible working practices have on employee engagement. The study shows that even in areas with very heavy workloads and lack of staff, the impact on work-life balance was minimal if employees were encouraged and enabled to work flexibly.
In the future, then, should this stretch as far as enabling employees to take a nap at work?
There are already examples of this happening in practice, albeit quite specific ones. Employment law in Germany means that offices must provide a quiet space with a reclining chair or bed for expectant or nursing mothers. Experience in a number of German offices has been that this facility is used far more widely than expected, and has had a positive influence on the wellbeing and engagement of those involved.
While the idea of resting while at work may need more research, it’s certainly true that the more rested an individual is, the better they can perform almost any task. So, perhaps it is time for UK businesses to think about letting their employees literally sleep on the job….
By Nick Thompson