In 2018 There are lots of women like me. Women who want to continue building a career as they have kids and raise a family. Women who enjoy working outside the home.
Before the baby was born, I spent a significant amount of time reading about bringing a baby into the work place. Because I was taking a short maternity leave, I wanted to learn about companies who adopted a baby in the workplace policy. I wanted to know how successful these policies were and how easy it would be to adopt a baby in the office policy.
I learned that the idea of a baby in the workplace is most prominent in the U.S. where women typically only receive 4-8 weeks maternity leave. Companies are looking for a solution to the high turnover when staff get pregnant. Some of the first companies to adopt a baby in the workplace policy wanted an incentive to encourage women to come back to work after having a baby. Allowing flexibility and creating a policy that allows parents to bring their children to work, in most cases boosted morale, productivity, loyalty, and reduced staffing and training costs dramatically.
As I ease back into the chaos of my full-time job, I am determined to make it work and include my child in my work world. I believe it is entirely possible to be successful in the business world with a baby on your hip.
In the 4 months I have been back at work, I have brought Zoey with me on a few occasions. She has joined me in large meetings, in an open office setting, and she has joined me in my private office a few times.
The times she has spent the day in my private office have been busy. I set up little stations on the floor and rotate her through the stations every 20-30 minutes. As she gets older, I am actually finding it easier to bring her into the office. Her attention span lasts longer, she is able to feed herself, and she naps more consistently. Bringing her into meetings, or to work in the open office setting has not gone as smoothly.
I am not sure what I expected bringing her into a large meeting. I have always thought I worked with a group of very open-minded people. People who understand and support my crazy desire to include my duties as a mom into my desire to continue growing my career. Although everyone is supportive of me being back at work, they are not yet comfortable with the way a baby's presence changes a meeting.
I made a point to sit near the back of the room, armed with snacks, a bottle, and quiet toys (I left the toy guitar at home). I still received a few funny looks when the baby started babbling, especially because the room was otherwise silent. To say my face turned red is an understatement. I wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed for thinking it would be ok to show up at a meeting with a baby, or frustrated and disappointed that no one was as accepting as I expected.
After some time to reflect, I realized that the whole process of bringing a baby into the office is a major learning curve for myself, as well as everyone I work with. It will take time for everyone to get used to the idea, and it will take time for me to figure out which situations make sense to bring the baby into the office, and which situations don’t.
For anyone else wanting to attempt bringing a baby into the workplace, here are a few things I have learned so far
Bringing a baby into a private office is much more practical than an open office space. Babies cry, babble, and generally make a lot of noise, which can be seen as distracting to others trying to work
Having a co-worker you can rely on through the day is crucial. Whether you need to heat up your lunch, or run into a meeting, you need someone to back you up and be able to watch the baby for short periods of time if something comes up
Have tough skin. Not all colleagues will be supportive of having a baby in the office. Some will question your dedication, some will simply disagree with having a baby in the workplace. If you are going to be an early adopter of changing the expectations for working mom’s, you have to accept the controversy and persevere.
If anyone else has successfully included their baby in the workplace, I would love to hear how you did it. Any tips or advice?