Would you bring your baby to work with you? If the option was available, some parents would do it to financially support themselves. But in a recent New York Times opinion article, one parent detailed why she brought her infant to work even though paid leave was an option.
Baby and me
Sarita James is the chief executive of Embark who said she “missed the problem-solving and camaraderie of work” and wanted to try a different experience with her third child.
So James brought her baby Uma to her office in a hands-free sling. It wasn’t always perfect —there were moments Uma cried and was a distraction, but overall James said her daughter “seemed to help everyone forget their own agendas and insecurities and form deeper connections.”
And she’s not alone in doing this. Licia Ronzulli, an Italian member of the European Parliament, memorably brought her six-week-old baby to work in 2010. As her baby grew up, Vittoria Ceriolo could be seen mimicking her mother’s voting intentions in sessions with a thumbs up or a hand raised. Ronzulli said she brought her baby as a practical matter because she was breastfeeding.
Although Ronzulli is appreciative of the attention her decision got her, she wanted to “remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this.”
And that’s exactly the kind of conversation the Parenting in the Workplace Institute wants to formalize and normalize. They said bringing your baby to work can increase employee morale and retention without the costs associated with on-site daycare.
They also said babies themselves benefit because they “crave information and interaction with other people” and the chance to observe people all day long gives them that social stimulation. Through its programs, PIWI said it’s changed 200 companies in more than 30 different industries from skeptics into proponents.
How your company can adopt this bring-your-baby policy
PIWI has created a template outlining how to successfully get your company to allow on-site babies. In it, they outline the limits of the program. After babies learn how to crawl, they need to graduate from the program and go off to daycare.
PIWI also emphasized that the employee and employer must make a commitment to make sure the baby is not disruptive to other employees: “If a baby is fussy for a prolonged period of time, causing a distraction in the workplace, or preventing the parent from accomplishing required work, the parent shall remove the infant from the workplace.”
Having your baby by your side can be a rewarding experience, but as the detailed template reminds us, it takes work too.
Overall, bringing babies into the workplace is indicative of the growing movement for better childcare policies at work. As workplaces grow to accept employees being whole humans with professional and personal needs, this could mean accepting their children too.