« Previous | Main | Next »

Babies In The Office: Taking my baby to work

Post categories:

Shellon Beckford Shellon Beckford | 13:00 UK time, Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I was on maternity leave when I first heard about the Babies In The Office scheme.

My employer, the minicab firm Addison Lee, was planning on trialling a groundbreaking initiative that allowed parents to bring babies up to the age of three into work on a daily basis - not in a crèche but by their side at their desks.

It meant that employees on maternity leave could come back early.

A memo detailing the scheme was included in my payslip asking if I would like to take part. I'd never heard of the idea before and I was so excited; I think I was the first person to sign up!

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Watch how Shellon and her fellow parents get on with their babies at work

Mahdka, my daughter, was just five months old when I returned to work three days a week. I was excited at the prospect of having her with me every day and as a result didn't feel any of the anxiety many new mums feel when they go back.

Although there were initially a few sceptics in the office on the whole my colleagues were supportive of the idea of bringing babies to work.

I also promised myself I would work extra hard to prove the sceptics wrong - and I succeeded.

As far as concentration went I soon realised that you have to be able to multi-task.

Both baby's routine as well as scheduling your day can be adjusted so that you get the bulk of your work done while they are napping.

I started taking my break when it was Mahdka's lunch time and ensured I had all the basics and toys close to hand at all times.

Most importantly it is key to remember that it is your baby, therefore your responsibility, although each parent did have a buddy that took the baby if you're in a meeting or baby's really upset while you are on a call.

There were a few initial teething problems and during the trial period Mahdka was doing just that, teething!

She was uncharacteristically restless and it meant that I did spend a little more time soothing her in the baby change room than I would have liked to.

Shellon Beckford with Mahdka wearing a phone headset

Shellon Beckford with Mahdka

However I have to say that the positives definitely outweighed the negatives.

Having Mahdka with me in the office meant that I saved £943 a month on childcare and even more valuably I was with her every day watching her grow and develop, something I would definitely have missed out on if she was at the nursery every day.

The Babies in the Office scheme also helped Mahdka with her own personal development. She was interacting with so many different people on a daily basis, something she may not have had the benefit of in childcare.

An extra and unexpected bonus of the scheme is the boost to morale in the office: I have made great friends with colleagues in departments that I had never even spoken to before!

You'll see in the programme that by the end of the month-long trial those colleagues who had said it would never work had changed their minds and realised that it was possible to continue to work with minimal disruption.

It was agreed that babies under the age of one would continue to be allowed at workers' desks and children any older would be placed in the on-site nursery.

I am now waiting for the nursery to be completed so I can continue to bring Mahdka into the office with me every day.

Shellon Beckford features in Babies In The Office.

Babies In The Office is on Tuesday, 17 July at on 7pm on BBC Two and BBC HD. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    30+ years ago this option was offered to me, twice!! Both times by, as was then, THF Hotels Ltd. The 1st time I was contacted after the birth of my no.1 daughter, when she was 3 months old. I had previously been employed as Deputy Controller at the Hotel Majestic, Harrogate and they were having difficulty in replacing me. I was offered my old job back if I could cope with some home working and some office work. We came to an agreement that I would work half the week from home and I would bring my daughter in to the office ( in which I had a separate, private area), commandeer a cot from housekeeping and complete my work on site. This worked fine for the first few months but then the baby became both mobile and vocal, not good!! Eventually I found a childminder and returned to work full time. After about a year I moved site to the Post House, Bramhope and not long afterwards my childminder packed in. I then took daughter into work, seconded a room on the ground floor, and spent the mornings in there. In the afternoons she spent variable time in her pram, outside and asleep under the chestnut tree in the grounds and when she woke she sat in her pram outside my office window. Again, not ideal but it certainly gave me breathing space whilst I organised alternative child care.
    My thoughts? A good short term solution but not for the long term

  • Comment number 2.

    I took my third baby to work in 1978. When she was 6 weeks old,for odd days. Then in1979 worked 2 days a week running a Day Centre for 6 years . I had 2 weeks holiday a year.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think this is a fantastic idea brought to reality by Addison Lee. I don't have children but strongly believe this would benefit parents, business and society as a whole as we will have more working parents and less people draining our social welfare aystem and making a positive contribution to society in these very difficult economic times. I'm not being disrespectful to stay at home parents but mearly saying atleast they will have more options

  • Comment number 4.

    I am writing from my own and professional opinion - I am totally horrified by the programme highlighting a choice to bring babies/toddlers into the work place. Firsty the programme highlighted very clearly major factors:
    Health and safety - buggies in the walk way, babies were not strapped into seats and these were on a desk, children put into travel cots (were these shared by different children??) the list is endless
    Bonding - I actually see this is a detriment to the bonding process. the children were regularly turned away from the parent and passed to other people. It doesnt take long before the child to learn 'reaching out' (crying, touching, trying to gain attention) gets them nowhere as a result they learn not to bother. Many times the children were turned away from the parent again against all bonding development. the parent was getting aggitated again stress for the child affecting the relationship.
    Development - babies need to be on the floor exploring toys, stretching their muscles, feeling toys etc not cooped up in a chair, sat on a lap or crying in a strange travel cot. This type of 'care' would have a huge negative effect on their development
    child protention - If this was assessed formally there would be massive concerns empionally and developmentally...this is commonly known as neglect.
    this can not have any recognition as childcare. childcare is a quality setting where the child has an opporunity to thrive, explore and their needs met, whether this is at home, in a childminder or nursery. If in a formal childcare setting such as a nursery where it costs money then look at it as a excellent provision for a fun stimulating educational environment (which it is) rather than an expensive sitting service. I can honestly say that children who receive 'education' from such settings do far better in school, university and their career. Research proves this.
    If you can't afford quality childcare then remember children are a choice...don't have them. I feel we are in a sad state of wanting the career, the family, the 4x4, the family holiday and the perfectly decorated and furnished home without realising what the important things are in family life. so so sad indeed.

  • Comment number 5.

    So will this work with the drivers????.

  • Comment number 6.

    I run my own business (a sensory room for people with disabilities) and I take my 1 year old to work with me, and have done since she was 3 months old. I don't see any problems with it, and I think it has really helped with the development of her social skills. She has experienced lots of different people, with and without disabilities and I hope that this will help to make sure she grows up to be accepting of others. Working with my baby also helped me to keep sane, as it can be very lonely as a mum at home alone all day.
    Not everyone can afford to put their child in nursery. I certainly couldn't as starting a new small business isn't exactly the most easy thing to do financially at the moment! I think that any time spent with your child is precious, wherever that may be - home or at work, and people shouldn't be so quick to judge you just because you do things a little differently. Also, how can people have an opinion about it if they've not tried it for themselves? We don't all want the career, the famility, the 4x4, the holiday etc. Some of us just want to get by in life and be happy being with the people we love.

  • Comment number 7.

    There are so many different opinions on how this can/cannot work. Its deinitley not for everyone or every baby. I would say dont knock it until you try it and dont knock the ones who do.

 

More from this blog...

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.