Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google claims top spot using MetroNaps

Google's employee perks – from providing "nap pods" for a quick break during the day to allowing engineers to spend 20 per cent of their work time on side projects that may spark new ideas – have given the Internet leader the best reputation in corporate America, according to a new study.

On the other hand, there has been a tumble in the popularity of the United States airline industry, which has cut employee pay while raising prices and tacking on fees for once- free services like meals and checked bags, the annual Harris Interactive Reputation Quotient poll finds.

Largely for its reputation for treating workers well, Google claimed the No 1 spot from Microsoft, which fell to 10th place.
"The ratings they get focus on how they treat their employees, their workplace environment," Robert Fronk, senior vice-president at Harris in New York, said. "They absolutely get tremendous credit for the social responsibility, which for them is also linked with their vision and leadership."

Google's mantra is "don't be evil".

The airline industry suffered from a perception of treating both the public and its employees poorly, Mr Fronk said. The percentage of respondents whose rating toward it was favourable fell to 26 per cent from 31 per cent last year, the sharpest drop of any of the 11 industries counted.

The bulk of the list is consumer products firms and tech companies, with women more likely to nominate the former and men the latter.

Rounding out the top 10, from second to ninth, were healthcare company Johnson & Johnson, chipmaker Intel, food companies General Mills and Kraft Foods, Warren Buffet's investment and insurance enterprise Berkshire Hathaway, diversified manufacturer 3M, soft-drink giant Coca-Cola and Japanese automaker Honda.

Financial services companies make up a relatively small piece of the list, with just Wells Fargo & Co, closely held State Farm Insurance, Allstate and Bank of America representing the sector.

"We have never found the investment banks to really be top of mind among the general public," Mr Fronk said.
Reputation was important in all sectors, he noted, with respondents saying they were more likely to buy products from, invest in or welcome into their communities, companies that they viewed favourably.

The five companies with the worst reputations, according to the study, were oilfield services company Halliburton, Venezuela-owned oil company Citgo, Northwest Airlines, oil giant Exxon Mobil and top US cable company Comcast.

Overall, the survey found that 51 per cent of respondents believed corporate America's reputation had deteriorated, while 11 per cent said it had improved.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Church and MetroNaps

I heard a piece on NPR this afternoon about napping. It wasn’t that interesting — for some reason I kept yawning. But they interviewed some woman who works at an organization called MetroNaps. They operate out of the Empire State Building where they offer napping areas. For $14 you get a 20 minute power nap inside an “energy pod.” You’re supposed to wake up refreshed, healthy, and productive. With my luck I’d oversleep and end up with a $200 bill.

But it did give me an idea. Since most churches are relatively quiet during the day, let’s start competing with MetroNaps. What’s an energy pod but an empty confessional? Heck, take a pew. We’d have to charge extra for ones with comfortable pew cushions but let the napping begin!

Of course you could argue that the MetroNaps concept is nothing new. The Episcopal Church has been offering the 20 minute power nap for generations — it’s called the sermon.

Well, as Paul once wrote to the church in Corinth, “Christ has risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” I really need to get a leather couch for my office.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

THE AGE: A nod in a pod makes work a happier businez-z-z

IT'S the new frontier in the fight against office fatigue. As a growing number of sleep-deprived staff nod off at their desks, companies are turning to new technology to help keep them awake.

Futuristic "energy pods" are being installed in offices to let employees take power naps in a bid to cut down on sick leave.

The $20,000 pods cocoon the stressed-out worker from outside noise as calming music is played through headphones. A zero-gravity position with legs elevated promotes blood flow and offers a sense of weightlessness as workers snooze in designated office "napping stations."

After 15 to 20 minutes a timer wakes the occupant with lights, music and gentle vibration.

Supplier Metronaps has sold 30 pods to major outfits, including mining company BHP Billiton, health insurer MBF and the Australian Institute of Sport.

Chief operating office Alex Silva, who describes himself as a "fatigue consultant", said tiredness was a major issue for many white-collar industries. "Not getting enough sleep can lead to serious health problems and it affects the bottom line of these companies. If their productivity levels are down they're not reaching their full capacity," he said.

Damien Waller, chief executive of Melbourne company iSelect, installed an energy pod at its Moorabbin office to help workers recharge. "Often people have late nights with the kids up late or they've partied a bit too hard the night before, and rather than have them call up and say I'm too sick to come to work or they come in but don't perform well, we think it's better to let them have a quick nap and they might be more productive and feel better about themselves," he said.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Twenty sleep strategies for health, beauty and vitality!

I fly interstate, for the day, on average once a week and I know how taxing this can be on my body and mind. If you fly regularly, it’s so important to be mindful of the pressures that flying can have on your health. There are three main pillars to good health: diet, exercise and of course good quality sleep. Of these three, sleep is the most valuable. Unfortunately, with our fast paced lives, all too often we don’t regard sleep as being as important as it should be and it is usually the first thing to be cut out of our day. Think of sleep as the golden thread that ties our wellbeing together and remember that most of us need a minimum of eight hours ‘beauty sleep’ each night.

Here are some commonsense sleep strategies for maximum health, beauty and vitality!

1. Find an enjoyable way to reduce stress in your life.

It goes without saying that when you are stressed mentally, you will find it harder to switch off and get good quality night’s sleep. When you have a calm and balanced mind sleep comes quickly and easily and is less disturbed throughout the night.

2. Exercise to stay fit.

Exercising a minimum 2-3 times per week will help you sleep at night. Remember not to exercise in the 3-4 hours before bedtime as this can disturb your sleep.

3. Always stay hydrated.

As we all know flying is very dehydrating. So make drinking an appropriate amount of water a priority to keep your body clock in balance.

4. Eat a proper and healthy diet.

A balanced diet aiming for at least five half-cup serves of veggies and two serves of fruit per day is helpful. Aim to leave a little bit of space in your tummy after every meal to stay trim and sleep well.

5. Stop smoking.

You’ve read it on the packets – smoking damages your health and it will also affect the quality of your sleep.

6. Reduce caffeine intake.

If you are sensitive to caffeine it’s probably best to have your espresso before lunch and for everyone limit your intake to two coffees a day.

7. Avoid alcohol near bedtime.

In moderation alcohol is fine but try to avoid drinking too close to bed as this can disturb your sleep. A hangover is compounded by, and is often due to, a previous night’s poor quality sleep.

8. Take a hot bath before bedtime.

When your body temperature raises in the bath and falls again afterwards, this sends sleepy messages to your brain.

9. Make your bedroom your sanctuary.

Take the TV out of your room and turn your mobile phone off. Next try lighting candles, aromatherapy, dimming the lights or anything else that relaxes you to calm your mind before drifting into a solid night’s rest.

10. Establish a bedtime ritual.

If possible, follow the same ritual each night including trying to go to bed at the same time. This tells your body it’s time to switch off for the day.

11. Clear your mind at bedtime.

What is in the past is gone and what is in the future has not yet arrived. Stay in the moment and value your quiet time.

12. Avoid having pets in the bedroom.

Pets have their own sleep habits and rhythms that may not be compatible to yours. It’s best to keep them outside your sanctuary.

13. Invest in a good quality bedding.

On average we sleep 24 years over a lifetime. Buy the very best mattress, pillows and bed linen that you can afford. Make going to bed a pleasure, as consistent good rest will serve you well throughout your life.

14. Try some bedtime relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.

Experiment and find out what works for you. Meditation or yoga can clear the mind and there are even some very light yoga positions, like the ‘half-tortoise pose’ or ‘legs up the wall’, that are great for curing insomnia and inducing sleep!

15. Don’t try too hard to get to sleep.

Take the struggle out of it. If you are having troubles, and counting sheep doesn’t work, you’re best to get up, relax and try again later.

16. Limit your time in bed.

Your bed is your sanctuary, so keep it for (mostly) sleeping.

17. Learn to prioritise sleep.

Sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. If you can’t change your wake up time you may need to commit to getting to bed earlier to get a solid eight hours.

18. Consider having separate sets of sheets if sharing.

On average, we turn 50-60 times a night. If sleeping with a partner this may disturb your sleep cycle.

19. If necessary, consult a sleep specialist.

MBF Health recently found that a massive 51% of Australians are sleep deprived or have a serious sleep disorder. Most people don’t realise there are specialists that can help. Getting to sleep is a common problem so if it is causing you concern consult a professional.

20. Take a 20-minute power nap.

I use the pzizz energising software for napping during the day. Nothing gets me disconnected, and rejuvenated, faster. A nap, providing you limit it to 20 minutes, will give you up to three hours of renewed energy and improve your sleep at night!

Monday, February 4, 2008

MetroNaps opens first retail store in Hong Kong

The wave is starting in Asia with the first MetroNaps store just opened in a high-end lifestyle mall in Hong Kong. Other locations in the region to follow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MBF launch MetroNaps in George Street

Averaging 600 nap sessions per month - workers from all around Sydney are now treated to naps courtesy of MBF Health.

MetroNaps and pzizz team up at Macworld 2008

Perhaps the best booth I've seen at Macworld is one shared by MetroNaps and Pzizz. They are offering 20-minute power naps in white egg-shaped recliner pods and are so popular that most attendees have been put on a wait list.

What does this have to do with Apple?

It turns out that once you climb inside, you put on a pair of noise-cancellation head phones and listen to a soothing male voice telling you to relax and get comfortable. The "brainwave stimulating" program, by Pzizz, is meant to help you sleep and improve your performance. It mixes ambient sounds, music and voice to help you either fall asleep at night or take a power nap.

And -- here's how Apple fits in -- the $69.95 (AUD) soundtrack is available on the Mac and can be transferred to your iPod, so you will never have problems sleeping, even if you don't have a cute little pod to sit in.

The pod, meanwhile, is available for corporations to rent and offer to employees (prices start at $15 per employee per month). Cisco and Google are apparently two of MetroNaps' customers. The recliner tilts you back and a door slides around so that you're enclosed from the waist up in the darkness of the pod. Once your time is up, the chair wiggles to wake you up.