Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another detriment to the open workspace

I pine for the days when I had an office, but I've been a cubicle-dweller for the last decade-plus. And I consider myself lucky that I don't have to work at a long workbench with no cubicle partitions - those things can make you go crazy.

And there's one other problem with them - they don't let you sleep at work.

Immediately, many of my readers - or some in certain parts of the world, including my home country - had a negative aversion to my "sleep at work" statement. It's ingrained in many of us, according to Jessica H. Lawrence.

If you saw someone grabbing a quick snooze at their desk or on an office couch, what would your immediate, split-second gut reaction be? "Lazy" or "slacker" seem to be the first words that would come to most people's minds. We have built our corporate cultures around the idea that if you can not see someone doing something that appears to be important, then they must not be contributing anything.

But Lawrence quotes Tony Schwartz to dispel that notion.

As author Tony Schwartz discusses in his book "The Way We're Working Isn't Working" just like we have sleep cycles during the night, we have cycles of higher and lower alertness during our waking life. These cycles are called ultradian cycles and every 90 minutes or so, your body gives you signals that your alertness is getting low: You start feeling restless, your attention wanders or you get that general antsy feeling that you need to be doing something else. Most of us have learned to plow through these low periods -- grab another cup of coffee or a piece of candy and we can keep going.

That method of pushing through may feel somewhat effective, but in the end it just ups our level of stress hormones eventually rendering us less effective.

Read more in Lawrence's article, The Benefits of Napping.
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