What really happens in NYC tech company nap rooms

November 3, 2016

Studies have shown that people who take short naps have an easier time staying focused in the afternoon and become less frustrated by complex tasks. Allowing an employee to snooze for 30 minutes is, thus, a pretty easy and cheap way for a company to boost afternoon productivity. 

Of course, there are not many workplaces that encourage people to nap. Most bosses cringe at the idea of employees napping on the job, and even Spain is rethinking the siesta as it's seen as archaic and unproductive. 

But, tech companies are different. Many NYC tech companies, big and small, are actively encouraging employees to take brief naps when they're tired. To get to the bottom of this workplace nap culture, we checked out a few nap rooms at NYC tech companies. We found three companies — one big, one medium and one small — and asked them to share their nap rooms with us. Here's what happened. 

 

Why do you have a nap room?

We have a nap room and we believe it improves the productivity of the team when used. Our CEO is a firm believer that naps are a good tool to increase productivity. He once even sent an office-wide email with a few napping tips. One of them was that 10-minute naps leave you feeling refreshed immediately, but 60-minute naps lead to the best retention.

That's great advice! Do people actually use it?

Yes. The nap room is most often used when employees come into the office right off of a red-eye flight. It's a great place for them to take a few hours to themselves and to refresh before getting their day started at work. It's also a great place to take a break, especially if you're feeling a bit under the weather or want to nurse a headache.

Is there anything special about your nap room?

We have a futon with blankets and pillows. We also made sure to include room darkening shades on the door.

Does napping on the job mean you’re not a hardworking, dedicated employee? 

Not at all — if that was the case we wouldn't have a nap room. We have a super dedicated team here at Betterment and we care about the well-being of our employees. We're all human and sometimes need a little recharge in order to be our most productive selves.

 

Why do you have a nap room?

Studies have shown that 20 to 40 minutes naps can increase productivity, energy, and alertness. We want AOLers to be their best selves at work, so if that means taking a quick nap to re-charge, then we want them to have a place to do that. 

AOL also offers on-site wellness classes (i.e. guided meditation, yoga, "boot camp"), gym membership discounts, in office flu shots, robust benefits for new mothers, and GetFit programs. We want our employees to be happy and healthy, and are constantly looking for ways to promote wellness in and outside of office hours.  

They look pretty inviting. Do people actually use them? 

Yes, they are very popular. In New York, the sign-in sheets are almost always full. The most popular times are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

Is there anything special about your nap room?

We have 12 nap rooms across nine different AOL offices globally, so each nap room is a bit different. Most are equipped with noise machines and beds (with freshly changed blankets and sheets), and some with Energy Pods that include an option to play soothing sounds during a nap. 

 

Why do you have a nap room? 

The science behind rest and productivity really speaks for itself. As a company, we are always looking for ways to put our people in the best position to succeed, and creating an environment where they can get a quick recharge — should they need one — is part of that.

Do people actually use it? 

Not as often as you would think and we see this as a good thing. Now, with that said, when we're marching toward company milestones like launches or product announcements, it definitely gets used a lot more. During these periods our office hours get more intense and it's critical to have a space that allows people keep themselves sharp. If you put in 18 hours one day and are back at the office four hours later, a quick 45-minute nap can make all the difference in the world in terms of output. 

Another thing to note is that the room isn't only used for naps, and it's often used for phone calls or solo work. Sometimes it's nice to have some time away from your desk to get things done.

Is there anything special about your nap room? 

Our nap room is affectionately named Freud and features a chaise lounge that converts to a bed with pillows and blankets. There are no windows in the room, so it allows for complete darkness even in the middle of the afternoon. The room also doubles as a place to focus with minimal distractions. The lighting is warm and we like to keep the decor simple so that people can dive deep into their work — or sleep — without sensory overload.

Does napping on the job mean you’re not a hardworking, dedicated employee? 

Quite the opposite! Allowing people to recharge with a nap helps encourage the team to work harder when we need them most. If someone came onboard who habitually uses it to sleep off their hangover, then they wouldn't last on the team very long. Anyway, I see offering a nap room as pretty similar to offering snacks and drinks. If you're underfed and under-slept, your productivity and creativity are going to take a hit.

Images via AOL, Betterment & Built In. 

Know of a company that deserves coverage? Let us know or tweet us @builtinnewyork.

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