China tech workers asleep on the job - with the boss's blessing

Wed May 11, 2016 6:58am EDT
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Dai Xiang has slept his way to the top.

The 40-year-old Beijinger got his start as an engineer, pulling 72-hour shifts at a machinery company while catching naps on the floor.

After a switch to the tech industry and around 15 years of catching naps on desks and other flat surfaces, Dai co-founded his own cloud computing firm, BaishanCloud, last year.

One of his first orders of business - installing 12 bunk beds in a secluded corner of the office.

"For technology, it's more of a brain activity. Workers need time to find inspiration," Dai said. "Our rest area isn't just for sleeping at night, the midday is also OK."

Office workers sleeping on the job has long been a common sight in China, where inefficiency and a surplus of cheap labor can give workers plenty of downtime in many industries.

But China's technology sector is different. Business is booming faster than many start-up firms can hire new staff, forcing workers to burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines.

"The pace of Chinese internet company growth is extremely fast. I've been to the U.S. and the competitive environment there isn't as intense as in China," said Cui Meng, general manager and co-founder of start-up data company Goopal.

The company's programmers, in particular, work overtime every day, he said. To get them through, they are allowed to sleep around lunchtime and after 9 p.m., either facedown at their desk or by commandeering the sofa or a beanbag chair.   Continued...

 
Kou Meng, product manager of RenRen Credit Management Co., sleeps on a camp bed at the office early morning, in Beijing, China, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee