When the CEO at Yahoo decided the company would discontinue letting employees working remotely, the reaction from the staff wasn’t well received. A lot of these workers were parents. The reason for the change was to enhance productivity and have everyone working together physically as a team.
Another reason for the change is because the CEO is more empathic towards other parents. After she had given birth to her son, she had a private nursery built just for her inside her office. Although it was something that was private, many employers everywhere are showing how constructing childcare areas at work is something that can also be extended to employees.
Other businesses are catching on too. Goldman Sachs opened London’s first — and so far only — office nursery. Opened since 2003, it was built to offer twenty days of free childcare. Scheduling times could be easily booked ahead of time or at the door should there be an emergency.
The company decided to expand the area seven years later and offered parents a free month to access the nursery. It was there to aid moms and dads as they transition back to work from parental leave. A female managing director who used the facility said that there is nothing more stressful to a parent than worrying over childcare. She added that she remembered it was impossible for her to focus on her work anytime her babysitter didn’t not show up on time or couldn’t come at all. She liked the fact that she had the choice to have her son with her. She was happy because she knew he was only moments away from her.
Because it was so well received, Goldman Sachs added more locations for their offices in New York and Tokyo. In certain locations the company looked for local nurseries for their employees. Sally Boyle, Partner and head of Goldman Sachs’ human capital management, feels good about the choice the company made. She states that a lot of senior female workers who learned about the nursery were excited to return to work after taking maternity leave.
Carla Moquin, founder of US-based Parenting in the Workplace Institute saw that adding nurseries would serve as a wonderful way to retain workers and attract new ones. Moquin believes that it can help parents balance their work and personal life by providing them flexibility. Workers are much more likely to remain loyal to a place they feel will assist them with balancing and supporting their family life.
Moquin mentioned that replacing staff constantly due to family commitments is not cheap (it’s more than $43,000 found by some estimates). It costs much more if the employee has worked there for a long time. However, opening up daycare facilities can be expensive as well, and it’s not likely something all businesses can afford. Several businesses that did attempt it were threatened with closure in the last two years.
A possible solution would be for employees to bring their kids into the office. According to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute, there are over 200 businesses in America that have a “babies at work” policy. Some companies are hesitant of this program because they think that bringing kids because would only distract employees, but Moquin is certain it doesn’t have to be that way. She believes it’s best to provide a clear structure as well as a formal program that’s implemented from the beginning.
Daycare programs could easily become a success so long as there are provisions to ensure that children don’t keep employees from doing their work. For companies who are interested, there is a sample guideline on the Parenting in the Workplace website. The guide advises that restricting the program to infants only as they are less mobile. Louise Roper, head of an on-site nursery believes the program is excellent for workers with babies, but not so much for older kids. She believes that parents who have toddlers have the option to work at home. Those at home will still be able to communicate using instant messaging technology, like Slack.
If adding such a program is beneficial, then why aren’t all businesses on board? Moquin thinks there is a separation between what others believe will occur and what truly occurs. The largest barrier is educating both workers and companies on the reasons and benefits why it is something worth trying. Although Yahoo is one of the latest companies who decided to ditch remote working for the program and it could very well be the future of childcare.