Dear Orna: My babysitter cancelled 5 minutes before I was about to leave for work. Is it appropriate to take my child into the office? Signed: DESPERATE MOTHER
Certainly every office environment is different, but if your boss is OK with it, a lot of positive things can result from bringing your child in to work occasionally. A child in the office not only lightens the mood, but helps build a culture that is mutually supportive. And how interesting is it to see your co-workers in a different light? If you see someone handling their children in a positive way, this could change the way you look at them as a co-worker.
Also, it can be a very positive experience for your child who gets to see their mom or dad in a different role. In the end it can be a win-win all around.
But it's not always a good idea!
There is absolutely another point of view and some managers believe that children at work negatively impact productivity. One opinion: "We don't have to become kid-friendly to accommodate our colleagues. Child care issues should be dealt with outside the office. Period." Ultimately, as with most things at work, this question comes down to knowing your office culture and being thoughtful about how your actions will impact your co-workers.
I have no choice . . . Now what?
If it's a last minute emergency and you have no other options, the best way to handle bringing your child in to the office is to let your manager and co-workers know as soon as possible. No one likes inconvenient emergencies! You might call your manager or send out an e-mail to your team before you head to the office. And from there, your priorities should be to minimize the impact on your co-workers. Make sure your child has books or toys to keep them busy and keep them out of the way.
And finally, think twice before asking co-workers to babysit if you need to go to a meeting or even just run down the hall. It might seem like a small favor but it can be an imposition to someone trying to get their own work done.
Never bring your child in to work when . . .
There are three conditions under which you should never bring your child in to work. First, when you are new on the job. This will surely make your new manager and co-workers wonder if this is going to be a regular thing. Second, if your child is high-energy and demands a lot of attention not only from you, but from those around you. Remember, the office is a place of business and significant distractions will not be appreciated. And third, if your child is sick and contagious, leave them home! Your co-workers won't appreciate being exposed to germs that may get them sick.
Be considerate of your co-workers and they will be supportive of you!