Being a working parent in 2018 can be difficult. Childcare costs are constantly rising while living expenses mean parents often need to spend more time at work, leaving less of it to spend at home with their children. Sadly, there are only 24 hours in each day and this means something needs to give when it comes to balancing life at work and at home.
Which is why a growing number of businesses are creating kid friendly offices that allow parents to work and look after their kids at the same time. This might sound like a recipe for workplace disaster but the impact has been impressively positive a lot of businesses and patents.
Creating a kid friendly office
As Lydia Dishman writes for Fastcompany.com, businesses and working parents alike are seeing the difference kid friendly offices can make to their professional lives. Her article looks at companies with staffs ranging from 22 people to over 800 employees that have created child friendly work places and there are a number of different approaches getting positive results:
- Kid friendly offices: Individual offices where employees can work, equipped with playing space for their children.
- Play areas: Communal areas where children can gather together and play while being supervised.
- Kids’ hours: Allowing parents to bring kids into work before and after school or daycare.
- Flexible working: Parents are given certain freedoms over their office hours to fit in with their parental obligations.
In some of the more ambitious efforts to create kid friendly offices, companies are are allowing children to spend considerable amounts of time at work with their parents and building dedicated offices with spaces for them to play.
Of course, the challenge is maintaining a workplace where parents can concentrate on getting things done without distracting others. In some cases, this involves soundproof glass and work spaces where people can go to concentrate if certain areas are noisier then they would like.
Keeping children entertained while they’re on-site is a huge part of making this work and this means recreational spaces a crucial element of kid friendly office design. You can’t expect to park a bunch of kids in front of a TV and hope they sit there quietly for a few hours. Kids will be kids and keeping their attention engaged requires a variety of activities for different age groups.
Above all, safety is the most important thing and this changes everything when you welcome children into the workplace.
Flexible working for parent employees
You don’t need to build a play park in your building to create a kid friendly workplace. By creating a productive workplace for parents to get their job done and implementing flexible working, you can keep home and work life separate without getting in the way of people’s parental obligations.
UK consultant Office Principles says “Flexible working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology together, allowing for flexible working patterns and office space.”
For parent employees, flexible working hours or the ability to spend a certain amount of time working at home can relieve a huge amount of emotional and financial stress.
For example, allowing employees to work a certain number of hours at home per week and come into the office at times that suit them can make all the difference. While making extra allowances during half terms and other holidays will make working parenthood significantly more manageable.
Whether you decide to create a more kid friendly workplace, implement flexible working or combine the two, the goal is the same: to help your employees do their jobs effectively and be parents at the same time. It’s not about giving parents less work to do or easier targets to achieve; it’s about creating a working environment that allows them to hit the same level of productivity as everyone else while they raise their children.