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Why nap rooms are popping up in more and more Canadian offices

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Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Published Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:20AM EST

TORONTO — Snoozing on the job isn’t just permitted at Bob Vaez’s software company, it’s encouraged.

The Toronto boss of EventMobi describes himself as “the only CEO that promotes people to sleep at work,” insisting the policy boosts productivity and company morale.

To that end, EventMobi’s open-concept waterfront office features a private nap room where workers can grab a few Zs if they feel sluggish, or just get some alone time in a dark space if they have a headache or don’t feel well.

“It’s just from my own experience,” Vaez says of his reasons for setting up the quiet space.

“As (with) any other tech professional worker, you work really odd hours and your brain just sometimes shuts off. Especially after lunch you just can’t work and I’ve been to other offices (where) people sleep at their desk and it’s really frowned upon. If you can’t work, what’s the point?”

The benefits of adequate sleep are well-established, but Vaez’s willingness to address tired staffers in such a direct way is relatively rare.

Still, he’s not the only one.

Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle says nap rooms can be found in the tech giant’s offices around the world, including the Toronto office where a wellness space for nursing mothers can be reserved for taking a break, or taking a nap.

Another space at their engineering headquarters in Kitchener, Ont., features two high-tech recliners with large spherical privacy visors for extra-tired employees looking to grab some shut-eye.

Meanwhile, management consulting firm Accenture says its three-floor Toronto office features a wellness room where staffers can snooze. That’s in addition to various inclusivity initiatives — gender neutral and accessible washrooms, a room for nursing mothers, and a meditation/prayer room with a foot-washing station.

It’s a phenomenon that seems primarily centred in technology and marketing sectors, says Alina Owsianik, director of talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion at Randstad Canada.

Owsianik knows of at least five Randstad clients with nap rooms, and credits their existence to a new generation of workers who increasingly blur the line between their home and work lives.

“Millennials are spending much more time than our parents did at work. They also work crazy hours, different hours, and we want to adjust the work style and the balance to their needs,” she says.

“(That includes) a lot of development shops, technology shops, where maybe there are crazy deadlines or people like to work in the evenings (and) have a nap during the daytime. That’s why we see employers actually adapting the workspace and creating a dedicated space to take a nap.”

She believes it’s more than just a fad, insisting “they are becoming more and more popular” as an added tool to recruit top talent.

Owsianik says Randstad began testing its own version of the nap room, dubbed the “recharge room,” after an employee committee suggested the measure as a way to address mental-health issues.

It has a couch, diffuser with essential oils, a salt lamp, mats for stretching, and a couch for resting and napping.

“There are a lot of people that are not declaring disability or mental disability,” she notes.

“And we are working in a highly sales-driven environment where there is a lot of stress so we really wanted to create a space where people can relax, have a nap.”

For job-seekers weighing multiple offers, a healthy workplace can win them over, she adds, believing many workers want more than just a good salary.

“Millennials and the younger talent and the younger generation are looking more for the rewarding career (and) self-development rather than just the pay.”

Universities, too, are recognizing that some of their students are exhausted by long commutes, awkward class schedules, jobs and personal commitments.

Two years ago, the student union that jointly serves Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber created two sleep lounges for its two Toronto campuses, and then doubled the number of beds at one of them last September.

The expanded lounge now has 12 beds while the second hosts eight. Together, they’ve drawn about 4,000 users this school year, well surpassing the 3,000 that dropped by during the entire school year in 2017-2018, says the union, known as Ignite.

“We are a commuter school and a lot of our students, they don’t get to go home until maybe eight or nine hours after they’ve had a whole day on campus,” says union president Monica Khosla, who represents students at both schools, which includes a satellite campus for the University of Guelph.

Over at Toronto’s Centennial College, the student union bought four so-called “EnergyPods” by the U.S. company MetroNaps last August, adds spokesman Brad Beamish. One has been installed next to the cafeteria, another in the library.

Their many features include a retractable privacy visor, speakers that whisper relaxation music and pre-programmed relaxation guides, wake alarms, lights and vibration controls.

“There were basically people jumping in them before they were finished being set up. The demand was almost immediate,” Beamish recalls.

Productivity expert Lisa Belanger is glad to see such initiatives afoot, noting that other countries seem to understand the need for work/life balance far better than Canada.

She points to Finnish sauna culture and the Swedish coffee break known as Fika.

“Europe is doing better on this for sure with valuing vacation, respite, weekends,” says Belanger, a post-doc researcher at the University of Calgary whose work includes looking at effective break strategies.

Historically, labour breaks were introduced to boost efficiency, she notes. These days, they are eliminated in the belief they slow us down.

“Coffee breaks were designed in the industrial era so that it increased productivity, reduced safety concerns and injuries and errors,” says Belanger, also CEO of the consulting firm ConsciousWorks, which looks at how brain health, nutrition and sleep affect performance.

“It’s gotten to the point where we kind of skipped over them. We put our coffee in a to-go mug and just get it in us as quickly as possible and forget that our brain requires breaks.”

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LIFESTYLES

Nobody would give this teen with autism a job, so he started a business

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A 17-year-old Australian teen with autism started his own business cleaning garbage bins after he was rejected for other jobs.

“I searched and applied for jobs for two years and did not get one interview,” Clay Lewis told CTV News Channel from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

As of January, his business, Clay’s Bin Cleaning, has made more than AUS$6,000 and has roughly 70 clients.

He charges AUS$10 for the first bin and AUS$5 for each additional bin. He regularly offers free bin cleaning to local charities.

“I’m very proud of him,” his mother Laura Lewis told CTV News Channel. “I knew that he could do it.”

She added that employers were unable to “see past their own judgments” and made “unfair assumptions” about Clay’s competency because of his disability.

Clay said that he is looking forward to attending his high school prom and may put some of his earnings toward funding a trip to Abu Dhabi to watch his first Formula 1 race.

Lewis said that Clay’s story has given hope to a lot of people, particularly parents of children with autism.

“All Clay is doing is living a 17-year-old’s ordinary life: working, going to school, having a girlfriend and hanging out with friends,” she said.

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Meet Jelly Bean, the deaf canine contender for World’s Most Amazing Dog title

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CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV London’s Sacha Long


Published Friday, February 22, 2019 7:50PM EST

A deaf Ontario dog is in the semi-finals of the World’s Most Amazing Dog competition, an interactive Facebook Watch show where dogs compete for a US$100,000 prize.

Jelly Bean, a three-year-old Australian cattle dog who lives in London, Ont., can catch and pass a ball with his front paws and jump on a stranger’s back. He follows the instructions of his handler, Melissa Mellitt, by sight because cannot hear.

“He is so highly intelligent,” Mellitt told CTV London. “He has no idea that he’s deaf. He doesn’t care. He’s just as happy as any other dog.”

Mellitt adopted Jelly Bean from the Deaf Dog Rescue of America when he was five months old. He has since gone on to travel across Canada as a professional stunt dog and works with Mellitt as an assistant to help rehabilitate fearful dogs.

“We knew that he had this potential,” she said. “This is exactly what I knew he was going to be.”

Mellitt hopes that Jelly Bean’s performance in the competition will help shatter some of the stigma around deaf dogs, who are often believed to be ill tempered and incapable of being trained. Mellitt said breeders euthanize many of them at birth, but she believes that Jelly Bean’s inability to hear is his “cool factor.”

If Jelly Bean wins the competition, Mellitt said that she plans to give half of the winnings to the Deaf Dog Rescue of America.

Viewers of the World’s Most Amazing Dogs competition get to vote on who should move to the finals.

“I think he could go all the way,” Mellitt said.

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Funeral held for sailor in V-J Day Times Square kiss photo

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NEWPORT, R.I. — The sailor photographed kissing a woman in Times Square at the end of World War II was mourned Friday at a funeral in Rhode Island.

George Mendonsa’s funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, and he was buried at St. Columba Cemetery in Middletown.

Mendonsa died Sunday after he fell and had a seizure at an assisted living facility, his daughter said. He was 95 and leaves behind his wife of 72 years.

Mendonsa kissed Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform, on Aug. 14, 1945, known as V-J Day, the day Japan surrendered.

The two had never met.

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of the kiss became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. First published in Life magazine, it’s called “V-J Day in Times Square,” but is known to most as “The Kiss.”

Another photographer, Victor Jorgensen, who was in the Navy, also captured the moment in a similar photo. The moment has been shared widely and is often seen on posters.

Several people later claimed to be the kissing couple, and it was years before Mendonsa and Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.

Mendonsa enlisted in the Navy in 1942, after high school. He served on a destroyer during the war.

Mendonsa was on leave when the end of the war was announced. When he was honoured at the Rhode Island State House in 2015, Mendonsa said Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.

On Monday, a statue depicting the kiss in Sarasota, Florida, was vandalized. The phrase “.MeToo” was spray-painted on the leg of the statue.

Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it wasn’t her choice to be kissed.

“The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she told the Library of Congress.

She added, “It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”

Friedman fled Austria during the war as a 15-year-old girl. She died in 2016 at age 92 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age.

After the war, Mendonsa became a commercial fisherman, like his father, and worked until he was 82. He died two days before his 96th birthday.

Survivors include his wife, Rita; and his children, Ronald Mendonsa and Sharon Molleur, and their families.

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