If you’ve been wondering why the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world in terms of productivity, I may have the answer. Too many of us are working from bed.
Yes, you heard me right. It was bad enough when digital technology allowed people to work productively from home, but now, that’s old news. The new news is that when American workers are home, they don’t set up shop at the dining room table. Instead, they grab their laptops and their cell phones, tablets, mini-tablets, and they jump into bed.
Or so I learned from More Work Goes ‘Undercover,’ a recent Sue Shellenbarger article in the Wall Street Journal. According to Shellenbarger, “researchers who study work habits say a new generation reared on mobile devices is increasingly accustomed to using them while propped against pillows, lying down or in a fetal curl.”
Since you already spend your workdays in a fetal curl, you’re probably kicking yourself for going under your desk to imitate a pill bug when you could be going fetal in your bed. And you wouldn’t be alone. “Half of 1,000 workers polled this year by Good Technology, a Sunnyvale, Calif. mobile-security firm, said they read or respond to work emails from bed,” reports Shellenbarger. Apparently, it’s easier to respond to mobile security issues when you’re glued to your Beautyrest.
One reason for turning your boudoir into a workspace is the need to deal with customers or co-workers in different time zones. This is a chilling realization. It’s hard enough to get help from unhelpful customer service reps halfway around the globe. It’s even worse when you realize they’re probably talking to you from bed.
A Denver productivity trainer, Laura Stack, worries that knowing you can be productive as you’re nodding off might encourage you to spend workdays goofing off. That’s why she “advises people to take steps to be more efficient during the workday, and to keep the bedroom off-limits for everything but sleep and sex.”
Of course, you know this is just silly. The best time to sleep is during the workday when someone is paying you for all those sweet dreams. As for sex, a bed is probably a better bet, but for sheer excitement, it’s difficult to beat a steamy assignation behind the snack machine, especially if you can share the afterglow over a bag of peanut M & Ms.
If you do decide to become a bed-bound worker, don’t expect your significant other to be thrilled. Yet another study, this one from Credant Technologies, finds that “more than half of people whose partners work from bed find the habit annoying.”
Considering just how many of your habits your partner already finds annoying, I suggest you turn your side of the bed into control central anyway. It could take your partner’s mind off your other bedtime activities, such as home canning and sushi making.
If you think entrepreneurial companies are not going to cash in on this bed business, you’d better wake up. Reverie, a maker of adjustable beds, now offers “a built-in power outlet in the base of its beds to plug in lamps, televisions or laptops.” I hope that the brainiacs at Reverie remember to leave enough outlets for truly important technology tools, like a bedside blender for whipping up margaritas.
E.S. Kluff and Co., a luxury-bed manufacturer, is climbing onboard the in-bed experience, by launching “a giant 7-by-7-foot bed, 16 percent bigger than a standard king bed and a foot wider than a California king.” The idea behind the behemoth is to create “a gathering place, a workplace, a comfort zone for a couple.”
Alas, a bed this grand and expensive is certain to become a highly desirable management perk. It’s bad enough to sit around a conference table for endless meetings. Imagine how depressing it will be to lay around your supervisor’s super bed while representatives from I.T. nibble pizza and the CFO hogs all the blankets.
Even if the bedroom never completely replaces the boardroom, there are risks for bed-bound workers. Ergonomics experts predict a rash of stiff necks and bad backs, along with the assorted aches and pains sure to come from twisting yourself into strange positions, trying to be productive and comfortable. And we’re not even talking bed sores, or worse, bed hair.
Speaking personally, I think it’s fine to work from your bed. Just be sure to occasionally get up and go into the office for a nice long nap. Really, you need the rest.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.