Google is growing pod people -- or maybe they're just sleeping on the job

Ever wonder where Google comes up with a seemingly endless line of scary brilliant technologists?

They’re pod people. I know. I didn’t believe it either until I spotted a Reuters photo in the Wall Street Journal of a nearly-fully-formed worker apparently emerging from a pod at the Google-plex.

This makes Google Glass and the driverless car look like tiddlywinks.

OK, maybe I got the wrong idea. The 2008 photo actually ran with a story about sleeping on the job – and the idea that helping employees take naps can help the bottom line.

The Journal story cites all sort of yawn-inducing statistics, including a Harvard study that says sleepy workers cost U.S. businesses $63.2 billion a year and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 40.6 million U.S. workers (about a third of the workforce) is operating on too little sleep.

I always figured the problem would be especially bad in hard-charging Silicon Valley, which maybe explains why Google has invested in EnergyPods, which were going for $8,000 back in 2010, according to the Sleep Education blog.  (How do I get a job at the sleep blog?) Geek.com reported at the time that the machines come with Bose speakers and a system that helps you recline to your ultimate nappy-nap posture.

It’s a far cry from the days Googlers would crash in a sleeping bag under the desk. Still, why wouldn’t a company that offers fabulous free food not offer a place to sleep off a big lunch?

We may never know the exact reason Google installed the sleep station (or whether they’re still on the Google campus). The company is notoriously tight-lipped, especially when it comes to its workers’ sleep habits.

My email to Google’s public relation department has gone unanswered so far. That could be a sign of the aforementioned tight-lippedness. Or maybe they’re just asleep at the switch.

(Photo: Reuters)

 

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.