A collaboration between Japanese companies Itoki and Kyoju Gohan, the “nap box” is supposed to be an aspirational fix for Japan’s famously unhealthy office culture, Bloomberg writes.
A tasteful fusion of Itoki’s furniture expertise and lumber sourced by Koyoju Gohan, the nap box looks a bit like a coffin, or if you’re feeling generous, a pill. The vertical box is designed to make sure a worker’s “head, knees, and rear are all comfortably supported” while napping, and to keep them from falling over while sleeping standing up, which as you might expect, isn’t the most natural position to rest.
Pill-like — Itoki suggests the entire product is a way to encourage employees to rest during long work days, and presumably, for the employers who purchase them to make it happen. Japan has famously been associated with long work hours, and mental health issues connected to exhaustion and overwork, but the notion of labor being so all-consuming that your job has to offer some way to sleep on the clock is an international fascination.
Coffin-like — Startups and tech companies frequently offer “nap pods” (read: horizontal coffins) to go along with the typical foosball tables and snack bars. And more traditional work arrangements, like Amazon’s warehouses, have even offered their own coffins, called “Mindful Practice Rooms,” where workers can get some privacy and meditation time on the job. The “nap box,” while currently only a product concept without a release date or price, is part of a long line of methods to keep workers rested enough to keep plugging away.
All versions of the idea are grim on paper and in-person, and despite the best efforts of the designers behind them, they don’t really address the problem at hand. There’s increasingly too much work, and too few structural accommodations being made to really change anything. I’m no data scientist, but there very well could be a direct correlation between the development of nap pod-esque products and the rise of unionization efforts across industries.
Until the latter takes root, I guess at least some of us will be allowed to rest our eyes during the next 12-hour shift.