I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea virtually through a Facebook group I started for moms to share breastfeeding and pumping tips and support (and also provide me with business and product feedback). She posted about her amazing and unique "Babies in the Board Room" experience, wherein she brings her youngest child to the office. I thought this was so fascinating - and such an awesome example of how workplace flexibility and innovation supports employers AND moms - that I wanted to share it here with you.
Q. Where do you work and what is your position?
A. I work in a non-profit my local United Way, I am responsible for volunteer engagement and programming.
Q. Tell us how you came to the decision to bring your baby to work:
A. I had been at the United Way for two years and at the time there was a coworker who had two daughters ages 8 and 10 that spent their afternoons at our office so they didn't need to go to after school care. My CEO always has said we are family friendly; when I told her I was pregnant she said, "you can bring the baby to work!" She informed me that employees in the past had had their babies in the office for as long as 8 months or as little as 3 weeks and that I should utilize this opportunity for however long it works without disturbing others or affecting my work load. I informally call this setup, "babies in the board room!" She expressed that she had male employees who would bring their children to work 1-2 days a week so they could have the bonding, the mother would come to the office throughout the day to nurse but she felt proud to have an opportunity to help a dad be such an awesome influence in his childs life.
Q. Why does your employer support bringing your baby to work?
A. She really values her employees and doesn't want the financial or other costs of multiple children in day care to be a factor in a mom possibly quitting or being rushed back to work to interfere with breastfeeding and bonding with your baby.
Q. Tell us what a typical work day is like with baby in the office:
A. To best accommodate my schedule I come in at 6:30am this allows me to have quiet time without others in the office, the baby still sleeps at this time as well. So I can really maximize my time until the office officially opens and all the other distractions happen. I work at a desk going through emails/phone calls takes up most of my day. I do have meetings almost every day, where most have commented on how "lucky" I am to bring my son to work, I am not sure if it is luck or just a great idea. I wear a wrap/sling which allows me to be hands free to address emails, phone calls and feeding all at the same time. This also allows me to roam throughout my office without the worry of if I leave for a minute the baby will start fussing.
Q. How has bringing your baby to work benefitted you?
A. I feel bringing my baby to work has provided me the option to continue breastfeeding, bonding and prevention of leaving such a small child in care. With my oldest (5), I worked nights and did not have to leave her in care, I was able to be with her for all of her firsts, I was terrified of leaving my son somewhere and missing all of that. This provides a different way of working without so much mommy guilt. We beat ourselves up enough just wondering if we make the right choices being parents, the last thing we need to do is worry how we can afford day care, if someone is going to care for my child at 6 weeks the way I would etc.
Q. What are the challenges for you in bringing baby to work?
A. My biggest fears/concerns about bringing my son is that others will feel I can't do my job or they will be interrupted from doing theirs. But the reality is no one cares, they are happy he is here sometimes too much where people want to come and visit the baby, but I want them to leave him alone as I am in the middle of my work and he is quiet.
Q. How long do you think you'll bring your baby to work?
A. The theory of this is for however long it works, that could be a few weeks, a few months etc. I think that the last point he may be able to stay is when he starts crawling this could be a safety hazard, but it depends. My daughter didn't really enjoy crawling she loved being in a jumper or walker and would sit there for hours if you would let her. So I really believe it depends on how he develops and his preferences and who knows I may say well this isn't working for me anymore, before my employer does. I just know that it is something that works for now.
I pretty much wear him all day and he is happy as can be; yes he has had a couple days of cranky, but no one has said anything. So, for now it works, it could change tomorrow and we are prepared for that but i am enjoying this opportunity for as long as I get it!