June 26, 2008
How bringing baby to work works
The Chamber's babies-in-the-workplace policy dates back to the nineties, says Vice President of People Programs Evelyn Lemoine. New parents who work at the 67-employee Chamber can bring their infants to work on a daily basis until the baby's six months old.
Curious about the logistics of this family-friendly policy, I asked Lemoine to spit up a bit more detail:
Q. Can any employee bring their zero- to six-month-old to work or are there some ground rules?
A. It's the parent's responsibility to complete the work and ensure that the baby is not disruptive to others. The parent also needs to have a backup arrangement available if it would be inappropriate for the baby to be at work on a given day [say, if the parent has wall-to-wall meetings].
Q. How many employees have brought their babies to work?
A. We do not currently have any babies in our workplace, but our policy has worked effectively when we have had them in the past. We've had maybe six or seven babies come to work really successfully.
Q. What happens when a baby is an "unsuccessful" addition to the office -- do you blacklist junior?
A. The only time we even came close to telling a mom that the arrangement wasn't working she realized it and proactively made other arrangements. Her baby was colicky and it was a drain on her and the people around her, and we were just about to say, "You know..."
Q. Do parents who bring baby to work have their own office? I can't imagine this working in a cubicle setting.
A. Many of our staff work in cubicles, and if one of them wants to bring a baby to work, we try to find space in an office while the baby is here.
Q. Have you had any dads bring baby to work, or just moms?
A. Both mothers and fathers have used the policy, although it's predominantly been mothers.
As an aside, the Chamber recently honored about a dozen of its member companies for their exceptional workplace flexibility policies. You can read more about it at Working Dad.
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.
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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."
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