In Japan, where workers get less sleep on work nights than those in other countries, more and more companies are encouraging employees to sleep on the job, convinced that it leads to better work performance.
Napping on the job is generally frowned upon, but a growing number of companies in Japan are offering new services and products to allow their employees to take a quick snooze at work to help manage their health and improve productivity.
Some companies have launched in-house seminars to explain the importance of sleep and some have created special areas for short naps at office hours.
“Sleep debt” was selected as Japan’s top buzzword in 2017, highlighting the concern that lack of sleep is harmful to health. Okuta, a home renovation company in Tokyo allow their employees to take 20 minutes power-nap at office lounge or at their desk only. Ikuko Yamada, who works in accounts, told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, “ If I use a calculator when I’m sleepy, I have to double-check my work for fear of making mistakes, so it takes longer. I think my work performance has improved since I started taking naps.”
Japan’s all-time productivity index has currently become a major concern for the country. According to 2018 data of OECD Compendium of Productivity, among the G7 nations, Japan has the lowest productivity. Because of over the level intense work pressure, people have actually died at their workplace. When taken a “bedroom poll”, only 57% of the Japanese respondents felt they got a good night’s sleep every night. Only 8% managed more than eight hours. According to the poll, Canadians, Mexicans and Germans all regularly achieve more than seven hours sleep in exception to British workers who get 6 hours 49 minutes of sleep.
As part of the self-improvement measures, one of the firms in Japan, Nextbeat requests that its employees leave work by 9 p.m. and that they not work overtime late into the night and also included 30 minutes naptime in between work hours. Engineer Hideyuki Utsunomiya, 31, who sits for long stretches in front of a computer screen, often found himself dozing off at his desk when his eyes got tired. “My work efficiency has improved since I started refreshing myself in the napping room,” he said.
Collaborating with Neurospace, a firm that supplies sleeping programs geared at companies, Mitsubishi Estate conducted tests on its employees and found that taking naps improved job focus and helped sustain overall motivation. After that, they established three napping rooms each for men and women in their new headquarters. Meanwhile, some companies are trying to improve the sleep condition of employees at night also. Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Himawari Life Insurance Inc. provided their employee with a device that can track their sleep patterns at night.
A wedding organizer company Crazy Inc came up with a “crazy” idea to motivate their employees to sleep more. The founder of the company, Kazuhiko Moriyama started an initiative where employees can get paid to get a sound sleep. They released a report stating the employees who sleep six hours a night, for at least five days a week, will get awarded points. They will be able to exchange those points for food in the company cafeteria worth as much as 64,000 yen ($570) per year. The sleep pattern can be tracked using an app built by Airweave Inc., a mattress manufacturer.
It is highlighted by RAND Europe in one of their cross-country comparative analysis that after US, Japan is the second most sleep-deprived country in the world. It is also highlighted that Japan is sustaining $138 billion a year on an average which is around 2.92% of their GDP. The report talks about multiple factors of sleep deprivation that can impact Japan economic condition in a major way. For example, if individuals that slept less than 6 hours started sleeping 6-7 hours then it could add up to %75.5 billion to the country’s economy.
Japan exceeds all the other countries in having the most exhausting workplace culture in the world, which is apparently hitting the productivity of their employees. Now when they have realized this it will be interesting to see how far they will go to take care of this problem. Well, better late than never.