I used to try to nap at the office. It didn’t go very well. Occasionally I’d duck into the privacy room to lie down on a yoga mat, but I was always conscious of the risk that someone else might need it more—a new mom who needed to pump, a manager about to have a sensitive conversation.
Google sleep pods and Zappos’ aquarium-outfitted massage chairs aside, most offices aren’t exactly designed to encourage a quick forty winks. Companies want to see workers engaged and alert at their desks, not curled up underneath them. But the broad shift to remote work thanks to Covid-19 means that for many white-collar folk with drooping eyelids, plush beds now beckon temptingly from just a few feet away. “Never was a nap person in The Before and yet here we find ourselves,” Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, recently observed of her own altered habits on Twitter. Indeed, the contemporary workplace could well be on the brink of a golden age of napping, ending the stigma that often surrounds the practice at last.
As I can testify firsthand, napping while working from home can feel like a betrayal of trust, a breach of the social contract that assumes that you’re still hammering away even when your manager can’t see you. Several friends reached out to me while I was working on this article to confess that they, too, belong to the fellowship of furtive work-from-home nappers, while others said that they were too ashamed to slumber. “I really struggle with the concept of napping,” one pregnant friend said. “Like, I am desperate to do it sometimes, but really beat myself up about it.”