Falling asleep at work is usually frowned upon but not at the office of German business software provider SAP.

The company even has a special chair in its Asian headquarters in Pasir Panjang where staff can take power naps.

The chair is a brand called the MetroNaps EnergyPod. Weary workers hop into the contraption, which reclines. A circular sliding panel enfolds them to provide privacy.

SAP is said to be the first company in Singapore to have this chair, which is built like a first-class seat on a plane.

So why are workers allowed to sleep on the job? Well, studies done by American academics have shown that a 20-minute doze can boost productivity by 30 per cent, and SAP is awake to this.

The chair is just one of many features of the office that make it less of, well, an office.

Forget boring workplaces with endless rows of dull-coloured cubicles.

With office workers spending longer hours at their desks, an increasing number of companies are vamping up this home-away-from-home to be more comfy for staff to work in.

For example, at marketing communications company Ogilvy & Mather, there are 'apartments' where staff can spend the night.

They are not actual apartments but rather a term given by the company to chill-out areas that have been decked out to look like a home.

Staff can relax in them when they work late (see other story).

At the SAP office, the use of colourful furniture adds to the chic factor.

Also, workers there have a cafe that serves up gourmet coffee, smoothies, salads, soup and sandwiches during office hours.

Staff have to pay for the food, but judging from a recent visit, the cafe looks a hit.

While there are still workstations in the office, Mr Colin Sampson, chief financial officer for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, says 'employees have the flexibility and mobility to work from almost anywhere in the office'.

He adds that the new generation of employees is used to working anywhere, such as in cafes, hence they do not like to be confined in a square cubicle.

The SAP office was designed by New Zealand/Australian interior design firm HBO+EMTB for an undisclosed sum.

The 135,000 sq ft office is spread over 31/2 floors. On each floor are themed sitting areas - one has a water feature, another a bamboo garden and the third, a wall covered with plants.

'Such areas allow for collaboration between employees while letting them work from anywhere in the office,' says Mr Sampson.