Last Saturday, Pedro Soria Lopez became World Champion. If you haven’t heard about him yet, don’t waste your time guessing in which sport he was crowned the best in the world as most probably you won’t be able to come up with the right answer: The 62-year old from Ecuador is the champion in taking siesta.
He managed to sleep for a stunning 17 minutes during the 20 minutes siesta session at the Championship in Madrid and gained some extra points for snoring at a volume of 70 decibels (other options to gain extra points were sleeping in odd positions or weird looks of pajamas).
No, this context is not meant to be taken seriously and even the winner took it with a smile on his face (however that smile may have also come from the 1000 Euros price money he earned). But the event was carried out for a serious reason: Event organizers wanted to demonstrate that the healthy old Spanish custom of taking siesta has dropped out of favor in times in which pressure is high and people are always busy.
And let’s be honest: How often have you seen a colleague taking a 20 minute nap in the office at 2 p.m. – or how often did you do it yourself? And even though we all know that it is healthier and increasing productivity to take a nap, your initial thought when hearing a loud snoring from the office next door most probably wouldn’t be “Wow, Johnson is improving his effectiveness again. That guy is so dedicated to his job!”.
We’re not accepting that being tired may be a hindering factor. If you’re tired you just didn’t have enough coffee, right? That’s not very clever, because it really has an impact, as many scientific studies show.
I’ve been to business meetings in Japan where some people have started sleeping during the meeting because they were tired from getting up early and commuting in packed subways. Can you imagine how efficient these meetings and the presence of the sleeping guys in it were? It would have been the far better choice to reduce the meeting from two hours to one and start at ten instead of 9 a.m.
Science shows that only 10 to 15% of the people are what we might want to call “morning people”. They get up early and are extremely efficient when working early in the morning. In the evening they are also getting tired early and go to bed at around 10 p.m.
15 to 25% are “evening people”. They have problems getting up early and are completely inefficient prior to 10 a.m., while in the evening they are not getting tired quickly and stay up until well after midnight (the other 60 to 75% are somewhere in between).
Now why do many companies still treat people from both groups the same? Why do many companies still force everyone to be at the office at 8 a.m.? Why are many managers still scheduling meetings at 7:30 a.m.?
I’ve been writing about the value of diversity for organizations a couple of times here. These posts were mostly about how accepting people with different views and backgrounds leads to stronger teams. This is a different case of diversity here. If we don’t accept that some people work in a different rhythm than others, we don’t get the best out of them and frustrate them – both with a negative impact on the company’s performance.
With the type of jobs we’re performing, with the means of communication that we have in place today, there is no reason why we’re stuck in a traffic jam every morning even though a fourth of the people in that traffic jam would be more productive in their job if they still were in bed.
We have to adjust our thinking. It’s not about presence time, it’s about results. It’s on us to change the mentality in our companies.
Note: If you want to read more on “early birds” and “night owls” and how to integrate them into the company, you might want to check out Danish “B-Society”, who fights for acceptance of different day rhythms: www.b-society.org