If you want to start a lively discussion at the office, a talk about bringing kids to work is a surefire way to get everyone involved.
Some believe it’s okay to do on occasion. Some think bringing kids to work is a definite no-no under any circumstance. Some believe kids can come to the office any time as long as they’re quiet and occupied.
Bringing kids to work – is it ever okay to do?
If you’re weighing the options and considering creating a policy for bringing kids to work, this post will help you identify the potential problems that can occur when children mix with the office.
You’ll be able to better decide how you’ll respond when an employee asks if it’s alright to bring Johnny to the office “just this once.”
What to consider before deciding
How safe is your office for children? If there’s a lot of heavy equipment or a multitude of sharp objects within reach of little ones, it’s safe to say your office isn’t a great place for children. Even offices that seem safe and clean can be hazardous for children due to stairs, office equipment, frequently opened doors to the outside, etc. If your office seems safe and passes your ‘inspection,’ you might consider allowing children in the office on occasion – only when there are no other options for employees.
How is your office layed out and designed? Is it one large, open room or are there several closed-door offices within it? The layout can be an important factor in determining whether or not to allow children in the workplace. Employees that work from a closed-door office may have an easier time bringing their children to work than an employee who works in a large department with 10 other people.
Legality and insurance
This is a big one – consider the legality issues that might arise from bringing kids to work. Some workplaces cannot legally allow anyone under the age of 18 to be on the premises during work hours due to occupational hazards or safety issues. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified 17 occupations considered hazardous for minors age 17 and under, even if they’re only visiting for the day. Do your research before allowing children in the office to make sure you’re abiding by all laws and insurance regulations.
The last thing to consider when determining whether or not you’ll allow children in the office is how your office’s productivity may suffer. If your employees all work in an open area, it’s safe to assume that a child in the office will disrupt productivity somehow (whether it’s ooohing and ahhing over the baby or loud, shrill crying from the baby). If you don’t think productivity will be affected, you can consider allowing children in the office on occasion.
Creating a policy for bringing kids to work
Now that you’ve considered the factors that might make an office suitable or unsuitable for children, you can craft a policy to stand by for bringing kids to work. Having a policy is essential here. The next time an employee asks about bringing their child or children to work, you’ll be able to point to the policy rather than give extensive explanations as to why they can or can’t bring them in.
You’re basically deciding between 3 options for this policy:
A. Bringing kids to the office is never an issue – you don’t need to ask
B. Bringing kids to the office is sometimes okay – you need to ask permission
C. Bringing kids to the office is never okay – there are no exceptions
Your policy might look something like this:
Company Policy: Bringing children to work
At Company A, we understand that there are times when unplanned emergencies and situations occur that leave you without a sitter on a workday. For this reason, we sometimes allow employees to bring their children to work, as long as they meet the following guidelines:
Age. Child(ren) must be at least 3 months old to come to work with an employee.
Length of time. Child(ren) should not spend more than 1 business day at the office in a two-week period.
Prior permission. Employees must obtain prior permission from management before bringing children.
Toys and games. Employees must provide non-distracting toys, books, and/or games to keep children occupied in the office – office supplies aren’t much fun!