In 2003, Christopher Lindholst co-founded MetroNaps, a business aimed at fighting workplace fatigue. On the front lines of this fight are the company’s futuristic-looking EnergyPods. The EnergyPods may look familiar to moviegoers who saw The Internship starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. In the 2013 film, two out-of-work salesmen take internships with Google. There’s a scene where Own Wilson has a conversation while relaxing inside an EnergyPod. As one of the top companies to work for in the world, Google is on the cutting edge of technology and workplace culture – and for the search engine giant, siestas are serious business. But is napping just another hip benefit at one of the world’s coolest companies, or a significant subject that’s here to stay? We caught up with Christopher Lindholst to learn more about MetroNaps and get his take on 20 minutes that can change your life.
What is your background? How did the idea for MetroNaps come about?
MetroNaps was founded in 2003 when my business partner and I noticed a lot of people falling asleep at work. For a number of years I worked from home, connecting with people in different time zones from all over the world, so I was taking naps all the time just so I could get through the day. Taking those 15-20 minutes was a part of my daily routine, and I realized that napping was something everyone should be able to do during the workday. It is a natural part of our circadian rhythm to experience a drowsy dip in the afternoon, and with a simple power nap you can rejuvenate yourself.
Originally you were going to have a subscription model where people came to a store, rejuvenated in the pods, and went back to their offices. How did the idea evolve into what we see today?
MetroNaps started off as a retail location, where people could come and take a nap. In order to open a place where people can nap in closed rooms in New York, you need to have a hotel license. We didn’t want to go through that process; so instead, we came up with the idea of creating a chair that provided privacy and security, without the need for separate rooms.
We started by launching our first retail location in New York in 2004. After that, we opened facilities on Wall Street and in Vancouver International Airport. We managed to get a lot of media attention around the EnergyPod and the idea of napping during the day. People started requesting the EnergyPods for their own offices. That became our main business and we no longer operate retail locations. We now work in dozens of countries on four different continents, offering installations to verticals such as offices, universities, hospitals, fitness clubs, and spas.
Tell us about some of the companies you’ve done installations for and their results? What is some of the feedback?
One of our well-known clients is Google. Fortune Magazine has named them Best Company to Work For four years in a row. They are quite open about endorsing napping at work, and their Vice President of Real Estate and Workplace Services was quoted as saying, “No workplace is complete without a nap pod.” With Google as a client, we were lucky to have our EnergyPods promoted and featured in The Internship, during a scene with lead actor Owen Wilson.
Give us a description of the pod, the technology, and why it’s designed the way it is? What are some the features?
Based on years of research, the EnergyPod is designed to provide the optimal short-rest experience. The contour of the chair takes pressure off the cardiac system by placing the user in a zero-gravity position. When you take a nap, you recline the chair, but you’re not lying flat. It is comfortable and relaxing, but still a professional posture. You can sit in the EnergyPod without wrinkling your clothes or messing up your hair. So you can take a nap, and quickly get back to work. Another important aspect is that the EnergyPod is powered by our i20 Technology, which allows users to start a preprogrammed 20-minute nap with just one touch. Specially devised rhythms play through the built-in speakers for optimal relaxation and gentle but effective waking is guaranteed with a programmed combination of light and vibration. Lastly, the EnergyPod is space efficient; the privacy visor provides seclusion and allows shutting out any external stimulus, without the need for a separate room.
What’s next? How do you evolve as a company?
There are still many companies unmindful of the benefits of napping, but I expect awareness about the importance of sleep to continue to grow. We have several new products and services coming in 2014 to help us address the various demands of our clients, from the small business looking for a quick low-cost solution to our global clients with the need for multi-site rollouts.
To learn more about EnergyPods visit MetroNaps.com