Babies in the office?
Yes, it is how we roll.
A few years ago Wycliffe USA began making it possible for infants to come to work with mom for a period of time between the end of their designated family leave time and about 6 months of age or “incompatibility” with the work environment. It is reasonable to expect that once a baby is mobile, an office full of chairs on wheels, dangling cords of all sorts, and more sharp objects that any of us notice is not a safe place and therefore incompatible. Beyond that, a baby that is highly opinionated and loudly expressive most of the time may not be a reasonable distraction in an office. So there are limits.
Our HR team figured out how to manage a system of agreements so that expectations of parents’ and managers’ could be defined and met. Our Center Services team installed those funky plastic attached-to-the-wall changing tables in one set of restrooms. The first few “office babies” were around Wycliffe in early 2010 (or was it late 2009?). I blogged about one of those first, introducing him as my Power Consultant. (The photo to the left is from just a few months ago.)
People in various roles around any office baby agree to be baby-holders when mom needs to run an errand (taking a baby on an errand can more than double the amount of time it takes to run said errand because babies are popular). From what I’ve observed, when the babies began to work part-time, life in our office changed for the better.
In August of 2010 I wrote about our office baby boom and shared this really fun photo. It is especially fun to report that the babies in this photo are growing up to be delightful little people.
I recently became aware of the fact that there was consensus among the young parents (recent and future) that it would be helpful to have a designated space for nursing moms in our building. Up until now, departments have been able to find ways to make temporary space in a meeting room or other private area. It has not been horrid—but this is better. It feels more like an embrace than a tolerance, I suspect.
Thanks to our Center Services staff, a small meeting room on the second floor of our building has been transformed and we are about to officially open the nursing mothers room. Individuals have made some contributions and the Diversity budget has covered the costs of a few other items like art for the walls. We now have a comfortable and accessible room with frosted windows and a lock on the door, a counter and working sink, soft light, a donated and gently used glide rocker and footstool, and a shelf unit which will soon house a collection of shared resources for parents of wee ones.
I love that we can do this and that we do.