A bizarre story came across our desk recently, and it actually sparked an interesting conversation about workplace napping.
Three railroad employees were suspended without pay for converting a room underneath Grand Central Terminal in New York City into their own personal 'man cave.'
The room was furnished with a wall-mounted TV connected to a streaming device, a futon couch, refrigerator, air mattress, and microwave, according to a report released Thursday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector Carolyn Pokorny.
"The risks associated with employees hiding in that room with the door locked create a variety of hazards including the inability of rescue personnel to quickly access the room,” Carolyn noted.
While they may have thought they were doing something innovative and fun, clearly it was illegal and potentially dangerous. It’s possible that one of their motivating forces for setting up this room was actually to have naps during, just before or just after work.
ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher told me that this is more common than you might think, “there are many organisations that I’ve been to over the years where I’ve been told stories or shown nap areas that were unsanctioned and arguably quite dangerous,” he says.
We would always be an advocate, where it’s appropriate, of having open discussions about if and when workplace napping is acceptable. And if it is under certain circumstances acceptable, then what are the rules?
Adam says that the key here is to have open discussions about safe napping and then to follow it up with a procedure about when, where, and how it could be appropriate.
“People shouldn’t be given carte blanche opportunity to sleep at work – they need to be coming to work ready to do the duty they’ve been rostered for – but in certain circumstances, it’s sensible to let people get their head down,” he says.
We’re an advocate for napping, but we’ll also be the first people to acknowledge that it’s done in a really dumb way by a lot of people, and this is a perfect example of that. Staff definitely shouldn’t be coming to work assuming that they’ll be able to nap, they should be coming fit for work or not come to work. But, if there are ways for napping to be done safely, there should be clear rules and procedures about it.
You can read more about the story here.