Tech workers in China encouraged to sleep on the job

Tech workers in China encouraged to sleep on the job

Dai Xiang has slept his way to the top. The 40-year-old Beijing resident 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 up on sleep on desks and other flat surfaces, he co-founded 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," Mr Dai said.

"Our rest area isn't just for sleeping at night, the midday is also OK."

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

But China's technology sector is different. Business is booming faster than many start-up firms can hire 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 United States and the competitive environment there isn't as intense as in China," said Cui Meng, co-founder of start-up data company Goopal.

The company's programmers work overtime every day, he added. They are allowed to sleep around lunchtime and after 9pm, at their desk, on the sofa or on a beanbag chair.

At its most extreme, some tech company employees even live at the office during the work week.

Liu Zhanyu at DouMiYou-Pin, a recruitment and human resources platform, bunks down in a converted conference room from Monday to Friday to avoid the daily commute of more than an hour to his home in Beijing's far eastern suburbs.

Renren Credit Management, on the other hand, provides cots for workers.

While workers said the potential payoff of working at a start-up was worth the long hours, there is a social cost.

"My kid misses me, I get home and he lunges at me like a small wolf," Mr Liu said, referring to his three-year-old son whom he sees only on weekends.

"That makes me feel a bit guilty."

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