Employers wake up to idea of power naps

Victorian employers are warming to the idea of an afternoon siesta for sleepy workers, but say finding the time and space to let staff snooze on the job could prove challenging.

A recent online poll by the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry found that 40 per cent of the 400-odd respondents thought an afternoon nap would boost productivity among staff.

A further 31 per cent thought the idea had merit, but could not see how it could be implemented.

Fourteen per cent of the employers who responded feared employees would ''take advantage'' of afternoon naps, while 10 per cent just thought was a bad idea.

A recent study by the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Institute found a 30 or 40-minute afternoon nap can boost productivity, making workers more efficient in the afternoon.

But VECCI's head of Workplace Relations, Alexandra Marriott, said most employers say they would find it too difficult to fit nap time into their employees' schedules.

''While a nap sounds like a great idea, many businesses cannot implement it in terms of customer expectation or roster,'' she said.

''Many in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors would have trouble in shutting up shop for an hour or so while employees took a nap.''

She said other industries would find setting aside space for sleepy staffers the biggest obstacle.

Ms Marriott said although most employers who responded to the poll couldn't see how they would implement afternoon sleeps, there was broad support for more flexibility in the workplace and new ideas to raise productivity.

Some Australian employers are already on board, including price comparison company iSelect and BHP Billiton.

MBF health insurance has sleep pods at its Sydney CBD flagship store. Members can book a 20-minute nap and lunch sessions fill up weeks in advance.

Afternoon naps are common across parts of Europe, Latin America and Asia including in China, Spain, Greece and Brazil.