Ways of working

Stop putting off bedtime

Healthy employees are productive employees. According to studies by Australian charity beyondblue, 72% of employees agree that workplaces that value mental health are likely to be more productive.

One of the biggest causes of poor mental health among workers is lack of sleep. As Arianna Huffington, author of the best-selling The Sleep Revolution says, we’re in a ‘sleep deprivation crisis’. An estimated 50-70 million Americans now suffer from a sleep or wakefulness disorder, while 77% of Japanese people don’t sleep enough. In India, a worrying 93% of workers are sleep-deprived.

More employers are paying attention to the importance of employee health, including sleep. A good night’s sleep keeps us all happy, and Regus research shows that keeping employees happy is a key way to drive productivity. This is especially true for fast-growth companies that operate in a market with a turbocharged speed of change but rely on a small head count.

Power naps

This is possibly the only time you’ll encourage sleeping on the job – research by Germany’s Saarland University shows that a 45-minute nap makes memory power five times more effective. Equally, a study by NASA found that sleeping for an average of 26 minutes led to an impressive 54% improvement in alertness. If you have a flexible office setup, encourage employees who are working from home to take off the full hour at lunch for some shuteye.

Controlled screen time

If you’re one of the 57% who use a screen before bed, you’ll notice it makes it harder to fall asleep. As it gets dark, your body produces the sleep hormone melatonin, but the ‘blue light’ that backlit screens give off disrupts this system, according to a 2012 study. This means around 23% less melatonin is produced – preventing you sleeping for up to another hour.

No after-hours emails

With 90% of us checking work emails at home – and half of us doing so in bed – one simple solution is to encourage a needs-based communication culture. Make sure people are only being copied on emails they need to read, and make use of your inbox’s priority flag system. Above all, aim for a culture of minimal after-work messages – you’ll end up with happier, more productive employees, meaning less out-of-hours communication actually leads to better results.