Bring Your Kids to Work Day typically comes just once a year, but one chief executive believes working parents should bring their babies to work every day — at least until the babies learn to crawl. In a piece for The New York Times, Sarita James makes a case for toting your infant to work with you, using her own experiences of bringing her third baby, Uma, into her office each day.
It started as an experiment as James prepared to return to work after giving birth to Uma, and she figured, "I was already wearing her in a hands-free sling. She slept more than 15 hours per day, and I knew that, despite my best efforts, much of that sleep would continue to be during the day rather than at night." The results of that experiment were surprisingly delightful. While Uma occasionally distracted James's co-workers, the overwhelming response was positive, and James found that the baby's presence actually fostered a certain calm and joy within the office. Uma even seemed to help in meetings and outside events:
I grew confident bringing Uma along to client and investor meetings as well as to evening networking events — get-togethers that I would have declined when my boys were babies but thought of in wistful moments after putting them to bed. Uma seemed to help everyone forget their own agendas and insecurities and form deeper connections. When I remembered hearing that programs exist to bring babies to schools to teach empathy, it made perfect sense to me.
What's more, James believes Uma herself was happier to be hanging out with her mom in the sling all day. Of course, this is all coming from a chief executive — not someone who has upper management breathing down her neck (or sling). Still, James thinks babies in the workplace could be beneficial for many working parents, and clearly the founders of Parenting in the Workplace Institute firmly agree. The institute encourages and supports parents who want to bring their babies to work with them, and it touts major benefits from doing so, including boosts in employee satisfaction and retention and even increased revenues for parents working with retail customers.
What do you think? Is it OK to bring a baby to work every day, or is the distraction simply too much?