Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My perfect work place

Many public places are not designed for children. An exception is some churches, probably because they know that their future depends on welcoming families with children as well as welcoming the elderly.

The best churches have vergers who welcome families and tell them that they are welcome, but that if the children's noise level concerns the parents ("it won't worry the rest of us!"), then there is a vestry/ belfry/ other room with comfy chairs and toys where they can take a break.

The best churches have hymn books in some pews and books and activity packs in others (they are usually religious in focus, obviously), so that when children have had enough of sitting watching and listening, they can go and get themselves something fun to do.

The best churches regularly have family services, which are aimed at children. Children are not merely tolerated, but integrated into the activity of the group.

My dream workplace is like one of those churches - a place where children are welcome to pursue their own interests and goals, to drift in and out of direct participation as the work interests them or not, a place with a playroom where parents can take their children for some noisy fun if the parents are worried about disturbing colleagues.

Maybe there would be an equivalent of a Sunday school where the children could play in a nearby room if they wanted, and come and go between the creche/parent as they wished. But the best thing of all would be if every office worker had a cubicle large enough to act as a base (like those boxed family pews in 17th-century English churches) and the children could be there, or visiting friends nearby or whatever.

Working at home is a good way of integrating parenting and work, but taking one's children to my dream workplace would enrich everyone's life, IMO.

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