George Costanza Napped on the Job. Maybe Other Workers Should too?

In the 1997 Seinfeld episode The Nap, George Costanza needed some extra sack time during the day and thus hired a contractor to help convert his office desk to a sleeping space, complete with a slot to place an alarm clock. While this is a brilliant thing for a TV show to conjure up, it’s hard to imagine a non-fictional boss being open to implementing something similar in his office space.

However, while this kind of behaviour is probably frowned upon throughout many segments of the corporate world, the idea of instituting on-the-clock napping spots in office spaces continues to exist. Recently, New Jersey-based Nationwide Planning Associates investment firm revealed that it offers workers the ability to sign-up for two 20-minute nap periods a week.

No, these folks don’t have to recline the seat back in their cars to do this, or curl up under a lunch table, they instead have access to a remodeled closet that consists of a recliner, fountain and bamboo rug. Classy!

From an employee point of view, it’s hard not to be all for this. Although hour lunches are common place and breaks come in many forms nowadays, sleeping (in the office and not comfy mall chairs) sounds way more inviting. What kind of worker wouldn’t mind the option of stepping back from the eye-burning monitor and intimidating stacks of paper to catch some ZZZs?

We all experience burnout from time-to-time and can usually ballpark which days of the week a quick snooze in a designated spot would be needed. Weekends are tough to recover from occasionally, so perhaps having a 20-minute sleep slot confirmed on Monday ahead of the 4 p.m. energy crash would be strategically smart. Wednesdays can be a tough hump to get over, so why not schedule a 1 p.m. siesta?

Using Nationwide Planning Associates’ strategy as an example, it is attempting to add 40 minutes of sleep time to each employee’s week. While that might sound miniscule, it’s essentially giving workers an extra eight minutes of sleep a day, which could usually come in the form of someone hitting the snooze button each morning and running the risk of being late for work.

Needless to say not every employee would reap the same benefits from this plan as his cubicle neighbour, but even still, an extra 40 minutes of concentrated in-office rest time has to equate to some sort of swing in employee happiness, stamina and productivity.

From an employer angle, the downsides are obvious, with the most obvious one being those workers who try to take advantage of such company luxuries. Sure, a chunk of people will abide by the time limit offered and the scheduling practices, but who is to say that the other chunk won’t ‘accidentally’ forget to set the alarm, or sneak into the space during a time that’s not scheduled.

What’s more, if the boss is away, what’s stopping employees from taking extra naps and/or doing, ahem, very personal things inside of these types of rooms? (Use your own imagination here folks.)

Then there’s the trust factor. Some staffs could be completely loyal, dedicated, respectful and not interested in manipulating the systems put in place by management, but have said management unable to trust that its staff’s intentions are as good as advertised.

As we’ve learned recently via Yahoo! and Best Buy in the U.S., the working from home matter is a real contentious one at the moment, and the debate has become widespread. Sure, the technology is in place to make such arrangements possible, but not all bosses want to go that route. Sometimes hybrid concepts like these take time to become accepted on a widespread level, but there will always be holdouts who will always believe that being in-house more often than not is better than someone being at his own house during office hours.

Thus, as that debate continues to rage, it’s hard to imagine (in spite of the obvious benefits) that this napping at work concept will become a widely accepted idea embraced by companies. I don’t think that a lot of business leaders are ready to extend themselves this far…yet.

It’s a nice dream to have, but alas, we can’t all be George Costanza.