Work is stressful. Babies are more stressful. We all know this, don’t we? Apparently not, since this week minicab firm Addison Lee is channeling Victoria Beckham and bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘Working Mum’. Their Bring Your Baby To Work scheme, which was televised in a two-part series on BBC2 this week, aims encourage office morale and ‘boost loyalty’. (Boost sweat levels, more like.)
It’s true that VB can get away with having baby Harper literally attached to her hip every day. It’s also (probably) accurate that she has a team of helpers with her at work. But could it really work for the rest of us? And do we really want it to?
Ok, so childcare cost worries would be lessened – and BYOB would naturally alleviate the guilt that so many mums feel leaving their children at home with minders as they strive to further their career, or simply to earn enough money to support their family. There’s no doubt that the pressure is on for women (we can’t count on all our fingers and toes how many times we’ve had the ‘can you have it all?’ debate), but is this a viable solution?
It’s a great idea. And the Addison Lee trial did evoke some positive reactions – in fact, in America (where, it’s worth pointing out, there is no legal right to maternity pay) the scheme has been successfully running in the cab firm’s US branch for years. The US Parenting in the Workplace Institute went as far to say that ‘happy babies’ at work ‘lower stress levels and create feelings of camaraderie’ in the work place. Can’t say we’re hopeful that ‘unhappy babies’ would have quite the same effect. And apart from inevitable mischievous behaviour, sticky fingers on your keyboard and toilet mishaps – would it just be a little, well, annoying?
Not only for the parents and for other childless staff, but also for the children themselves – we’re not sure how many happy childhood memories can be created by being ignored by your mum as she frantically tries to reply to 15 emails, have two conversations on her Playdoh covered phone and simultaneously dangle a dummy in your face.
And, yes, we’d like more provisions for working mums as we battle to smash our way through that glass ceiling – in fact, it’s a priority, or it should be. But, though the savings would be (more than) nice, how many mums would like to completely blur the line between work and home? And, let’s be honest - probably end up working longer hours because of it? Would you? Let us know!