Making your office baby friendly can help make your working parents be more productive. It means they’ll spend less time fretting about their children and focusing on the task at hand. It’s not just a perk — it’s good business practice.
Large corporations such as Genentech have paved the way by offering amenities such as on-site and near-site daycare. That’s tougher for small businesses, but there are still steps you can take to make your office just as child friendly.
Here are five practices that parents crave from their employers. In all instances, you can set rules and policies to put both the manager and employee at ease:
1) Give them space — Breastfeeding moms will need to pump regularly in order to continue offering breast milk to their babies. By law, employers need to offer them a quiet place to pump which is not a bathroom.
During their breaks, at regular intervals throughout the day, they will need about 20 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to pump milk. Give them the time and the space. It won’t last forever; most moms stop pumping (or pump less frequently) after the first year or so.
2) Offer flexible schedules — Let parents come in early and leave early, or come in late and leave late. This lets them make the most of their time in the office while giving them the flexibility to pick up and drop off their children at school or day care.
Consider a policy that lets them take a few hours to attend a child’s soccer game or doctor’s appointment. That’s better than having parents in the office who wish they were somewhere else.
3) Be open to telecommuting and working from home — There will be times that parents will need to stay home with their children when they get sick and can’t attend school or day care. Yes, parents can use their sick and vacation hours when that happens. But allowing them to work from home occasionally means that they can still get their work done, sometimes even more efficiently because they won’t have office distractions and won’t need to spend the time commuting into the office.
4) Encourage sharing — Have more than one parent working in your office with complimentary skills and responsibilities? Consider job sharing. This allows them to have a flexible or part-time schedule while still allowing them to maximize their contributions to the company.
5) Consider virtual meetings — Some meetings have to happen in person. For the ones that don’t, consider holding virtual meetings by videoconferencing instead of traveling, which can be very difficult for a parent to manage. Today’s technology has made virtual meetings much easier, from Skype video calls to Cisco’s TelePresence service.