Please tell me what to do about coworkers' kids in the office. I
could understand if people brought their children in when there
was an emergency, but everywhere I look there seems to be some toddler.
The noise and distraction are affecting my work. I can't get away
from it because we are all in cubes, but I need some way to tell
my coworkers that the office is not a daycare center!
It's not surprising that today's office has become so alluring to
the young, with its bright colors, foosball table, and all the soda
you can drink.
have only recently recovered from a stretch limo ride my dog Dickie
and I took with the 14-month-old child of our favorite tycoon. After
two hours I became what amounted to the stickiest diction coach
in Beverly Hills (fa-ba-fa-ba-fa-ba; mu-nee-mu-nee-mu-nee-mu-nee-mu-nee).
When it was finally over I didn't think Dickie was ever going to
come out of the car.
no secret that children make poor business associates. Their extended
lunch hours, ritualistic singing, and demands for the same story
over and over tax the patience of the most tolerant paradigm-shift-embracer.
Moreover, the preliterate tend to be much better at computer games
than those with more seniority. The situation becomes especially
tense when teammates discover all the highlighters and flipcharts
have been used for art projects, as the temporary visitors threaten
to flatten the entire organization like miniature consultants.
you're not the only one with a problem, as any parent whose little
angel has been unexpectedly turned away from daycare can tell you.
It takes just a single snowflake, sneeze, or scheduling snafu to
ruin a carefully planned system and force your colleague to rely
on the office as backup childcare.
helps to remember that while you may have spent the early hours
sipping mint tea, many parents instead pass that time helping a
preschooler choose his outfit ("But darling, you can't
mix your Airwalks with your Abercrombie sport fleece; they're
simply two different looks"). From the time
I was a little girl in an obscure and thrice-renamed Eastern European
republic, my parents instilled in me the importance of accessorizing,
which is why I now rely on People to make sure my clothes are unimpeachable.
But with the time-consuming ardor of fabulousness beginning so early,
you can see why, when daycare arrangements fall through, Daddy tends
to arrive at work with hopes for serenity in smithereens, and loaded
down with stuffed animals and plastic toys. Who did you say was
having trouble getting work done?
then. If your office permits people to bring children to work, try
to negotiate with the parent. If a particular child is running wild
in your workspace, take the parent aside and say you regret you
aren't able to keep an eye on the child: you have work to do. Evidence
helps, so point out if the little girl is legitimately likely to
hurt herself by getting into the three-hole punches, paper cutters,
etc. Otherwise, state your regrets and then propose a better place
for the tyke to go. Why? Because criticizing someone's small child
is always a bad idea. Recommending alternatives, on the other hand,
protects your interests and positions you as a considerate neighbor.
Buying and using earplugs saves your sanity while you are negotiating.
go straight to your manager, the director of human resources, or
another decision maker and lay out the problem. Try to quantify
it in terms of lost time and sudden interruptions, while being sure
to point out that this condition affects all levels of the firm.
Mention that one in eight employers offers onsite childcare, one
in four supports telecommuting, and one in three pays for or subsidizes
childcare; suggest that your firm become one of these one-ofs. Only
a business that wants its hallways and boardrooms to be filled with
distracted or resentful employees and children who have gone without
their naps can afford to place itself above the problem.