Why ‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ Is Not Bizarre Amid Covid-19

When I first realized April 23 is Take Your Child to Work Day, I nearly laughed. Surely that’s pointless this year, right? Is it even worth it to recognize Take Your Child to Work Day now, when every day is, “Work with your family at work day?” Every day.

But the more I thought about it, the more sense it actually made. Now, in fact, might be a perfect time to “take” your child to work. Stay with me.

I know it is hard working from home with kids. Full disclosure: I have it relatively easy. Not only have I worked from home for years — there’s been no learning curve for me or technology to ramp up — but my kids are in high school and can, more or less, manage their own time.  But I’m hearing from so many friends about how much of a struggle it is, especially those with younger kids. Or special needs kids. The fact is when you do have time to get work done, the last thing you want is a shadow.

Real World. I reached out to my son’s high school business class teacher to get his perspective. Turns out, there’s still quite a bit of value. “The bottom line is that Take Your Child to Work Day is an opportunity to see adults in action to either open kids’ eyes to just what their parents do or to give them the basic idea of what ‘the real world’ looks like,” my son’s teacher said.

Whereas typically some kids get exposure to the business world once a year, many thousands of kids now have the chance to see how business gets done on a daily basis. And more importantly, amid a crisis.

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The new reality. But are they actually getting that exposure? One of the most consistent pieces of advice when it comes to working from home effectively has been to have a separate workspace, if at all possible. Separate. Closed off. But this week, with “Take Your Child to Work Day” approaching, I wonder if this isn’t the perfect time to pull back the curtain, to give our kids a sense of how the business world handles adversity.

Having a front-row seat to difficult situations and being able to watch adults navigate them can be an excellent learning experience for kids. For example, a colleague shared that seeing her husband work from home has been an eye opener for her and their kids. They’ve seen and overheard him deal with financiers, conduct negotiations, make business development decisions and help his clients resolve their business challenges.

“It’s important to see this unprecedented time as an opportunity to give your kids access to not only what you do, but to your workday as a whole,” says Susan Hanold, VP, HR Strategic Advisory Services at ADP. “Show them the importance of collaboration in a work environment and how teams can work together to accomplish something big.”

Open the door. So, if you have been able to sequester yourself for working hours as advised, perhaps open your office for that one day. Even if you have been working out in the open in front of your kids, encourage them to pay attention to some of your work. Let your kids sit in on your phone calls with candidates or your MSP rep. Let them hear you chat and problem-solve with your colleagues. Of course, not all conversations are appropriate for such shadowing. Confidentiality rules would still apply, and HR approval may be needed.

If your company has held Take Your Child to Work events in prior years, the leg work on what is appropriate and what is not has likely been done. So rather than dismissing the concept as ludicrous as was my first thought, perhaps reconsider — even if you can’t make it happen on the actual official date.

Think about it this way: You will be sowing the seeds of our future workforce: entrepreneurs, staffing industry professionals, technologists, lawyers, procurement officers and maybe even some contingent workforce managers.

Sharon Thomas

Sharon Thomas
Sharon Thomas is a senior editor at Staffing Industry Analysts, responsible for the Contingent Workforce Strategies 3.0 e-newsletter. She can be reached at smthomas (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Sharon Thomas

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