When Companies Let Parents Bring Their Babies to Work, Everybody Wins

Image Source: Monica Bielanko
Image Source: Monica Bielanko

“Was so proud of myself for smooth morning. Up at 5, hour of work from home, kids up at 6, in car by 7, boys deposited at daycare without incident and by 8 I was congratulating myself on a morning well done while waiting with Violet for a bus that never came. A quick Google revealed no school today. Nice one, Mom.” #takemykidtoworkday #momlyfe

I posted the above photo and caption to Instagram a few months ago when I forgot my 7-year-old daughter didn’t have school that day. It wasn’t the first time that kind of thing has happened because, frankly, I’m not the most organized mom. Thing is, it was no big deal. An oversight like this could ruin another parent’s day but not me. That’s because the company I work for welcomes my children with open arms whenever I have an emergency.

Nobody bats an eye if I set my daughter up next to my desk and let her play PBSkids.org and draw pictures or read books for a few hours. Everyone knows her name, they bring her snacks from the employee lounge, and I can get more work done that way than if I was careening madly around town trying to figure out alternative care or shelling out a ton of cash for emergency daycare drop-in. It’s not uncommon to also see the children of other employees dotting the workplace landscape.

It seems a growing number of companies are realizing that being flexible with parents makes for a more, not less, productive work environment. An article on MarketWatch reveals how several workplaces have even instituted infants-at-work policies, which allow parents to bring and care for their babies in the office until they are 6 months old.

Babies at work? Sounds counterintuitive to a productive work day, right? You couldn’t be more wrong.

Every working mom has experienced that debilitating moment when she’s forced to leave her newborn with someone else and head back to work. How productive were you at work? You probably spent a lot of time spacing out, distracted, worrying about your baby, maybe even desperately pumping milk in between meetings. Often late for work, dashing out early, hoping nobody noticed — a total nightmare.

What if you could have your sleeping newborn right there with you? A sense of peace and contentment in your mind as you do what needs to be done and not missing out on a single second of that crucial bonding time with your baby. Not only that, but recognizing thousands in newborn daycare savings. You return to work with a renewed sense of loyalty to the company that cares about your family. You WANT to work harder for the company that works for you.

Yeah, babies cry. That’s why companies that enact infant-at-work programs have common sense policies like walking away if your baby is fussing (something we all do anyway), taking the baby home if it continues to fuss, only changing diapers in the restroom (DUH), and designating a co-worker to watch your kid in an emergency, just like I do when I have a meeting and my daughter is with me.

We all work with people that annoy us far more than crying babies and we don’t always get to walk away from them, so what’s the big deal? Is a baby crying for a few seconds before mom gets up and walks away going to harm you? I think we all know Eugene from accounting is waaaay more annoying than a crying baby. Come to think of it, Eugene is a big, crying baby.

Unfortunately, in the U.S., programs like this are rare, with only about 200 companies offering them. That said, the number of companies has more than doubled in roughly the past decade, says Carla Moquin, founder and president of the nonprofit Parenting in the Workplace Institute.

It’s a shame more companies don’t realize infant-at-work policies are a win-win for parents and employers. They engender a familial vibe in the workplace, create company loyalty, and inspire new parents to return to work faster and be more focused. Not only that, but it’s far more cost-effective for the company than something like onsite daycare, and it’s certainly a financial savings to parents avoiding the daycare costs for a newborn.

Why do you think more companies don’t create infant-at-work policies?

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