I have a new favorite co-worker. He’s a little loud, except when he’s falling asleep in meetings. Sometimes he’s cranky, but usually, after we feed him, he’s fine. Oh, and he goes to the bathroom right in the middle of me talking to him.
His name is Nathan. And he’s the newest baby to join the office as part of The Muse’s bring your baby to work policy.
Nathan is actually the fifth baby to head from the crib to the office since the program was adopted by our founders, Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos (fun fact: Alex’s baby was one of the five). As part of the policy, parents are eligible to bring their new baby to work three days a week until they reach six months or begin to crawl—whichever comes first.
While it’s certainly not a common program, the Parenting in the Workplace Institute has recorded more than 2,100 babies being brought to more than 200 American organizations.
In a time where more and more companies have dogs running around freely, and 83% of millennial workers report they would leave their job for one with more family-friendly benefits, it might be time for more companies to consider additional ways to support new parents when they need it most.
Benefits for Parents
Returning to work post-baby is a challenging time. You’ve got new routines, additional expenses, and you’re struggling with being separated from your infant.
Allowing a new parent to bring their baby to work relieves childcare costs and provides more time for moms and dads to be with their child during crucial periods of development.
“I decided to bring Nathan to work because I wasn’t ready to leave him with a nanny,” says Nathan’s mom and Full Stack Engineer at The Muse, Joanne Chevalier.
She’s not alone. Many moms struggle with transitioning back into the workforce after having children. As Sheryl Sandberg noted in Lean In, “43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time,” and only 40% of these women will return to full-time roles when re-entering the workforce.
“At the end of the day [bringing a newborn to work] creates another option for parents. It eases the transition during a time of change, allows parents to save some money on childcare costs and spend more time bonding with a child during a pivotal time in their life,” says Shannon Fitzgerald, Director of HR at The Muse.
In fact, research suggests that bonding during early stages of the baby’s development may be more powerful than the baby’s genetic makeup in preventing diseases and enhancing IQ (a pretty great reason to have your baby with you).
And breastfeeding, a common new mom challenge, is a lot easier when you're with your baby. “It allowed me to breastfeed without having to worry about pumping,” Joanne says. “Moms who can’t bring their baby have to pump and save the milk, make sure not to forget the pump, and then make sure not to forget the pumped milk when leaving the office!”
The cost of full-time infant childcare in the United States averages $4,650 to $18,200, according to the National Association of Childcare Research and Referral Agencies. Simply put—being able to bring your baby to work for the first six months of their lives saves parents money. Lots of it. Joanne says this was one of the reasons she participated in the program.
Benefits for Companies
Having a baby in the office isn’t just good for mom and dad. It’s a morale booster. Shannon says she received lots of feedback from employees that they love seeing a baby in the office.
At The Muse, we even have a roster of alternate caregiver volunteers who can step in and help care for the child if the parent is in the restroom or attending meetings. Joanne had three volunteers and they were a big help. Even better, volunteering brightens the caregivers’ days.
“Having babies visit us at The Muse is truly the highlight of my day. Hanging out with them, walking around with them, I see firsthand people’s stressed out faces light up. Having kids at work keeps the mood light and shows a side of people when handling or interacting with them that you normally don’t see,” says Mani Malik, IT Support & Network Administrator at The Muse.
“My role at The Muse is very reactionary and I tend to move around and jump from meeting to meeting, but when I get to hang out with kids at work, it really gives me a break to focus on the lighter things in life and to realize how much joy kids can actually bring to a fast paced and stressful environment,” Mani adds.
Employees need more flexibility. In fact, 90% of moms who work from home cite the desire for family flexibility as the top reason why.
And as parents’ hourly spending on childcare rises, many families opt to leave the workforce and stay home with their children.
If employers can find ways to help support those parents, through baby at work policies or on-site child care centers, parents have less reason to drop out of the workforce, and companies can keep their star performers. A win win for everyone.
Want a Baby at Work Policy at Your Office?
Looking to make your office baby friendly? We recommend bringing this article to your HR team, along with the following worksheet.