May 30, 2008
Bringing up baby -- at the office
Babies in the workplace have been in the news a lot lately. Time magazine did a story on it at the start of the year. ABC's Nightline profiled a company in Texas that has a baby-friendly policy last month.
I'm not talking about companies that have an onsite child care facility, but the handful of companies in the country that allow new moms to bring junior into their workspace whenever they need to, even if that need is every day.
Advocates of babies in the workplace say that it enables companies to keep talented new moms who might otherwise have to choose between working and caring for their infant during junior's first year or two, that it boosts worker loyalty, and that it cuts down on absenteeism. And for moms, this arrangement of course means cheaper child care, easier nursing, less guilt over returning to work, and less of a juggling act.
Depending on whom you ask, the baby-friendly office is either a beautiful thing or a total nightmare. Some colleagues interviewed in the Time and ABC stories found babies at work a refreshing change, even a morale booster. Some who'd been worried about the noise and distraction factor were instant converts once those little bundles of joy arrived.
But some workers, including a handful of commenters on the ABC site, lamented the distraction factor, worried about crying babies in the hallways, and said they found babies in the workplace completely inappropriate. In the ABC comments, a couple of moms who'd tried to work alongside their little ones said it was tough to get any actual work done and more of a distraction than a help.
The website Babies in the Workplace, run by the Massachusetts-based Parenting in the Workplace Institute, lists 98 known baby-friendly companies in the country, including the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which I confirmed this week. I hope to run a Q&A with someone from the Chamber in the coming weeks about how this "babies at work" policy works for them, but if anyone else works for a baby-friendly office I'd love to hear from you too.
Meantime, what do the rest of you think about infants in industry? Do tell.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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