Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Babies at Work

I've been in touch with Carla Moquin, founder of the Parenting in the Workplace Institute. PIWI helps businesses implement babies-at-work programs. Mothers and fathers bring their babies with them to work until the babies are around 9 months old or mobile. What a wonderful way to bridge the work-parenting dilemma--especially in the United States, where maternity/paternity leave is almost nonexistent.

The following is reposted from the PIWI blog with Carla's permission. Stay tuned for an interview with Carla Moquin in the near future. If you have questions for Carla, please leave them in the comments section! 

Help Create a Babies-at-Work World

The Parenting in the Workplace Institute (PIWI) has a vision of a world in which interacting with babies is just part of a regular day at the office.  For nearly 150 confirmed businesses and more than 1,600 babies, this world is already a vivid and enchanting reality.  Will you help our Institute to bring this reality to thousands of other businesses and millions of other families?

Baby At Work

Adler at the Nevada State Health Division
PIWI has already helped five businesses to set up successful and sustainable babies-at-work programs.  We have documented successful baby-inclusive programs in law firms, consulting firms, retail stores, credit unions, government agencies, schools, and even in the offices of manufacturing companies, as well as many other kinds of organizations.  We know that well-structured baby programs work in companies as small as three employees and as large as three thousand.

We are excited to announce the launch of a fully-supported and thoroughly-documented pilot babies-at-work program at Hot Studio, an “experience design company” with offices in San Francisco and New York City.  We will be featuring pictures, videos, interviews, and survey results over the course of this pilot on our Babies in the Workplace website, this blog, and our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as through various other outlets that support our work, such as MomsRising with their new website, the Custom-Fit Workplace.  Our goal is to optimize the assistance and resources that we provide to businesses to implement programs, as well as to show the business benefits and transformation of the work culture that occur when babies start coming to work.  We will then begin the next wave of simultaneous pilot programs in several companies in a range of industries and sizes.  These pilot programs will be featured in a documentary by Chithra Jeyaram, a graduate student at the University of Texas, Austin, who is pursuing an MFA in film production.  We are also going to start producing short online videos that show babies-at-work programs in action and that illustrate how highly-responsive parenting and the social network of the office result in happy babies who thrive in the workplace.

We are prepared to enable a dramatic expansion of this world in which babies come to work every day with their mothers or fathers and in which parents can lovingly care for their children while also getting their jobs done:
  • A world in which bank tellers and grocery store employees cuddle their babies while helping clients, and customers come to the businesses more often specifically to visit the babies
  • A world in which coworkers and managers start out skeptical about starting a babies-at-work program, but then find themselves bonding with the babies and wanting them to continue coming to work
  • A world in which parents can stay with their babies and work to support their families at the same time
  • A world in which both men and women in the workplace provide a social network for these new families and volunteer to help care for the babies
  • A world in which the business benefits of these programs are so significant that executives rave about how integral a baby program has been in the success of their business
We are building a team to ensure that we can provide the best possible resources and assistance to expand babies-at-work programs (and, eventually, sustainable parenting-at-work programs for children of all ages).  We are working with high-quality child development researchers and advocates to provide resources and information to parents about how to keep babies happy and healthy, and we will be providing comprehensive lactation support for mothers who want to nurse.  We are going to start gathering survey information in baby-inclusive companies so that we have reliable data to combine with the tremendous anecdotal evidence of the benefits of babies-at-work programs for businesses and families.  Every day, we will be updating our tally of baby-inclusive companies and babies hosted in the workplace.  We also plan to work with our supporters to apply for a Pepsi Refresh grant in October to dramatically expand this movement (we’re still developing our plan for this).

But we need your help.  Here’s how you can get involved–we cannot do this without you:

1.   Join the PIWI Network.  Whether you’ve taken a baby to work, work in a baby-inclusive company (or want to), or are simply supportive of our efforts to build a world in which families of all kinds are supported, we would love to hear your experiences and opinions.  Joining is free, and you can choose to donate $30 if you wish to receive a PIWI mug and a seal for your website to show your support.  We are also starting a PIWI Blog Network for advance notice of PIWI initiatives and opportunities to participate in blog carnivals and other events.  If you wish to join the Blog Network, please enter your information when you join our Network.

2.   Tell Companies About Our Bridge Project.  Spread the word to current baby-inclusive companies that might be interested in joining the Bridge Project—the first wave of our plans to celebrate and expand babies in the workplace.  Companies who join the Bridge Between Career and Family will have their baby program permanently featured on our website and will receive free initial baby-inclusive certification services and a discount on services to enhance the effectiveness of their baby program, outreach avenues for sharing their products and services with Institute supporters, an outlet for finding skilled employees among PIWI supporters, and priority for being included in future media pieces.

3.   Follow PIWI on Facebook and Twitter. Join our Facebook community and Twitter page; we will be communicating frequently in the upcoming days with our supporters there as well as on PIWI Place, our private community for PIWI Supporters.

4.   Grow Our Baby-Inclusive DatabaseTell us if you know of companies anywhere in the world that have allowed an employee to bring a baby to work (even informally) so that we can contact them and add them to our list.  Share with us your suggestions of companies that might be willing to work with us to set up a formal babies-at-work pilot program (at no charge for the Institute’s services).

5.   Expand Our Outreach.  Write and talk about parenting in the workplace–show the world that this is being done successfully in many different environments.  Send us your pictures and videos of bringing your babies to work.  Spread the word about our effort to bring parenting at work to the mainstream, and share your own experiences and thoughts about this concept.  Let us know when you post your work and we’ll do our best to share your thoughts with other supporters of parenting in the workplace.

Ambrosha and River at HometownQuotes

Ambrosha and River at HometownQuotes
Babies-at-work programs and PIWI have been discussed in dozens of major media pieces in recent years, including the New York Times, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Time Magazine, People Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, NBC Nightly News, the Today Show, the Boston Globe, USA Today, Workforce Management, Redbook, and Inc. Magazine, among many others.  As we show that we can successfully implement babies-at-work programs in large and small organizations of nearly every type, we expect that the publicity (and public awareness of the viability and benefits of babies at work) will expand dramatically.

We welcome your ideas on how we can more effectively expand our efforts, and we look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Carla Moquin
Founder and President
Parenting in the Workplace Institute


  1. This sounds so neat. I hope it catches on!

  2. It would be nice if it caught on.

    Do women log the number of minutes/hours they work vs. taking care of their baby? This would mainly apply to hourly employees. Diaper changes, feedings (ok, I can BF hands free, but what about bottle fed babies?), fussy periods, etc. can add up to a lot of time. I would guess about 1-2 hours per 8 hour shift on a good day.

  3. to anonymous:
    any conscientious parent/employee would keep track of her hours, the real ones, spent working, and subtract out the ones s/he needs to be attending baby's needs. the trend is actually that parents who bring babies to work are OVERLY conservative with logging hours, erring on the side to the company's benefit, rather than their own. i know this was my experience, i brought my son to my part time job at portland state university when he was 4-11 months old. i was just so grateful to my employer to be giving me the opportunity, that i would in no way have wanted to jeopardize the situation by taking advantage of it. it's a valid concern, for sure, but i think it's one that could be assuaged.

    sure, there could be a cumulative 2 hours in an 8 hour period of diaper changes- so ask the question, does it make sense to have someone else watch the baby just to cover that 2 hours of tasks, but be away for 8-9 hours of time? i think the math makes way more sense bringing babes to work. i couldn't be more in support of this idea...

  4. Since giving birth two weeks ago - no, for much longer than that - I have been fantasizing about being able to bring my baby to work. I am a lawyer and spend most of my day alone in my office. Having the baby there would greatly benefit my productivity since I wouldn't have to pump constantly or take extended lunches, short days, to go see my baby. But I'm also a US Marine, and I'm really not sure my work environment is ready for this.

    I will be testing the waters, though, to see just how much baby presence I can get away with . . .

  5. My mother did this with me and my younger sister almost 30 years ago (although it wasn't for 9 months, more like 4 I think). I'm pretty sure she was only able to do it because my aunt was the general manager/co-owner of the company though. My mom was the head of human resources and she said the staff loved having me there and I'd have to say she was right since when I would go in to the office as an older kid (and even a teenager) people would tell me what a cute baby I'd been :)

  6. I've always dreamed of operating some sort of baby-inclusive business. I am so glad you posted this!

  7. I don't really think to food industry would ever really be able to adapt to this for safety reasons but I am all for it everywhere else.

  8. I've tried combinations of working from home and bringing baby with me to work with my 4 kids. My experience is that trying to work with baby there is more stressful than it's worth. It's hard to pay attention to work, but more importantly, it's impossible to give baby the attention she needs. A distracted employee is less than 50% effective and a distracted mom is no better than a separate caregiver. The bottom line is, motherhood is amazing, but it doesn't pay well, at least monetarily.

  9. Working in a small non-profit, we did not fall under any federal or state requirements for maternity leave. Thus, my leave was a 4-week combination of sick/vacation. Unwilling to leave my still newborn with someone else (nor was she taking a bottle), I just brought her to the office. Didn't ask, just showed up with a baby. Worked ok for few months. She was an early crawler, though (6 months), and that was the turning point for all involved. I'm now a mostly SAHM. My advice (when asked) to other new moms is to choose home or work. Trying to combine the two was tough on me, my baby, my husband, and my workplace (though they have been kind enough not to emphasize that). It's a tough decision no matter what you do, and I second-guess myself often. BUT, more options are always better, as everyone's situations are different.

  10. I was the poster who asked about keeping track of hours. I wasn't trying to imply that the mom would try to cheat the employer.

    If a mom needs to spend 2 hours/day taking care of her baby (and I mean completely stepping away from her work), and she works an 8 hour day then she is only working a 6 hour day. So she logs only 6 hours with her employer. She works five days per week. Now she is only working 30 hours per week, and in many companies is no longer considered a full time employee and therefore doesn't qualify for benefits.

    Do moms who do this work longer days, such as spending 11 hours at the office to work a full 8 hours? Or do they work extra days? Even an extra 8 hours at work (with the baby) would only bring them up to 36 hours.

    Again all of this really only applies to hourly employees, salaried mothers would just put in the extra hours either at home or the office to complete the same amount of work as they did pre-baby.

  11. I don't have any kids. I am a teacher...and I'm having trouble seeing this work in a classroom setting. I know it would be great to have students see and interact with a baby, but how much would it distract from class, especially when class lasts for around 50 minutes? If the baby was sleeping, it would be ok, but what about when they wake up and start crying in the middle of a class, or you have to change a poopy diaper? Interesting idea to think about though, and even better if some workplaces become more family friendly.

  12. Oh my goodness. Only in the US ... Does no-one else see a slightly creepy side to this initiative ? If you, my dear US sisters, want to ensure that there is no question of any extension to your maternity rights in the workplace, then surely this is the way to go. I don't think I could have made this one up ...

  13. I'm not quite sure I like this. I think a better way to go would be to give heavy tax breaks for families with one parent that stays home to make that easier for the average family. Bringing a baby to work is great is some aspects (breastfeeding and bonding), but it still doesn't eliminate all the stress of keeping a home with two parents who work full time. Those of you with multiple children can understand this even more. The laundry alone! Our family makes sacrifices for me to stay at home with our three children...we hardly ever eat out, new clothes for mom and dad come out of birthday/Christmas money only, and I shop ebay and thrif stores for my kids clothing. But it is so worth it. I think a lot more families would be able to have one parents stay home if they cut their style of living (single parents would be the exception to this of course). I would like to see the US encouraging this more than brining baby to work.

  14. I brought my first son to work with me in an office from age 10 weeks to 4 months, and it was fairly disastrous. He was really high needs, never napped more than 20 min. at a time, wanted to nurse a lot, didn't like it if I tried to use the computer, whether I was wearing him or not. It's hard to type when wearing a baby, and then it's not long before they start trying to "help" you type or grab the mouse. I felt guilty that I was neither doing a good job at the office, nor was I doing a good job caring for him. I think my second son would have been easier because he slept a lot and was more easy-going than his brother.

    My husband was at home working on a dissertation and now is an adjunct prof. teaching two days a week, so he has ended up being the primary caregiver and bring the kids to work for me to nurse. This has felt like a better solution to the work-baby dilemma, though my husband does not particularly like the tedium of caring for small children, and first son totally killed his ability to work on the diss. until baby was in bed for the night.

  15. I have a 7 week old son, and cannot imagine taking him to work with me. He is pretty quiet much of the time, but requires lots of attention, as does my job. Thankfully, most of my workdays are spent at my home office, but I travel and see my customers a lot too.

    I just don't see this working for most jobs. I know that I would not like working in an office if I had to hear a screaming baby, but if I didn't have to hear it or be distracted by it, I would not mind. Instead (or in addition to), I think women need to push for real maternity leave. I was shocked to learn that my 13weeks off, at 60% salary (did not effect bonus) was considered exceptional! That's when I learned that most American women get no time at all, and are lucky if they don't lose their jobs too. It's great to be able to have one parent home, but its not always possible or preferred- those that have to work need to be supported!

    We wanted to have a parent home, so my DH and I made some major changes. First, we moved to Mexico, 12 miles south of San Diego; here in Mexico we can afford quality childcare and a big enough house (no, we don't speak Spanish YET). Second, Dh stays home full time with baby. He just didn't earn enough to make his working and paying for child care worth it, as we couldn't have moved if he kept working. We have a nanny to help DH the weeks I am traveling, and with housekeeping.

    We've been here since we started trying to get pregnant, and it's been great. But being able to pull it off is not typical, so getting real maternity and childcare options is imparitive!

  16. I would have done ANYTHING to bring my baby with me to work last year. She and I both had separation anxiety and I would have happily worked more hours or taken a pay cut or ANYTHING to have her with me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...