Science Careers Blog

March 31, 2008

Take-Your-Baby-To-Work Day, Every Day

There is probably no more difficult decision for new parents than finding day care.  A few companies, according to USA Today, are offering employees a novel solution to this vexing problem: bring your baby to your desk.

Some companies apparently allow parents to have their babies, generally kids not yet at the crawling stage,  with them in their offices or cubicles. Most of these companies described work in office environments, such as advertising agencies and consulting firms.  However, Francine Gemperle, one of the parents interviewed, is a researcher at Maya Design, a consultancy and research lab in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gemperle took her son Milo to work every day for 6 weeks after returning from maternity leave. She set up a compact bassinet next to her desk, kept a supply of blankets handy, and used the rest room to change diapers. 

While Maya Design lets staff members bring in their babies up to age 6 months, the company does not allow infants with fevers higher than 100, and parents have to sign a liability waiver. Gemberle also prepared her coworkers for the experience. Before bringing in young Milo, she alerted everyone within 15-20 feet of her cubicle that they would hear baby noises during the day.

The practice of having young children at work apparently is gaining traction. The article cites the Society for Human Resource Management, which says the number of companies allowing babies in the workplace at least occasionally rose to 29% last year, up from 22% in 2006. Advocates for employees bringing their babies to work say it removes a huge psychological and financial burden from parents, reduces turnover, and increases loyalty to the company.

But detractors find the noise and attention given to babies distracting, and company lawyers get nervous about potential liability. Plus, if the parent is your supervisor, how do you tell her the baby is making a racket?

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