Mobile Parent-Child-Office (Fraunhofer IAO)

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Description of Issues and Targets
Sometimes parents are facing foreseeable or spontaneous shortages in childcare (strikes, illnesses of caring persons, etc.) which they want to bridge because they have important dates or urgent work to do and are not solvable by home-office or by flexitime. In such cases, a workstation can be set up by the use of the Mobile-Parent-Child-Office which allows a short-term childcare. The offer is also suitable to support parents at their re-entry after parental leave.

Description of Offer/ Action
The Mobile Parent-Child-Office is a baby-changing table with wheels which is equipped with materials for occupying and caring of little and older children (e.g. pencils, toys, diapers, wet naps, covers for power sockets). It can be temporarily taken to the working place or a conference room to exceptionally take care of children. Experience shows that sometimes single toys are being borrowed. Fraunhofer IAO owns three Mobile Parent-Child-Offices which are positioned in two different buildings.

© Fraunhofer IAO

© Fraunhofer IAO

Implementation Approach
The Mobile Parent-Child-Offices are positioned in fixed rooms. Everybody who borrows one has to register in a list including her or his phone number in order to trace where it can be found. Along with the signature the terms of use are accepted. The project was realized due to a program for the reconciliation of work and family life of the central administration department.

Formal Requirements
Expenses of about € 800 to purchase a Mobile Parent-Child-Office and generously estimated € 100 for expendable materials per year (a few diapers, loss of toys).

Results and Modes of Action
The offer is in action since December 2013 and was introduced to the employees in a presentation during lunch break in the foyer. Only every few weeks there are entries in the list but there was a lot of feedback that simply the symbol and the fact of knowing that children are allowed to be brought to work are meaning a lot to the employees with (partly already older) children. Over the past years, the use of this offer in the institute with about 300 employees stabilized at about 20 days a year.

This Offer Is Part of the Category
Gender-sensitive Organizational Culture
Reconciliation of Work and Private Life

Success Criteria and Possible Obstacles
It is important to ensure that employees are aware of such an offer. There might be inhibitions to bring children to work for example because of the fear of disturbing others or the fear to be seen as unprofessional. A favorable attitude (or even exemplary function) of the head of institute and the management is important in this context.

Comments on this Offer
The Mobile Parent-Child-Office is a good compromise between a »toy box« which is easier to install but less visible and the »bigger« solution of a fixed and therefore less flexible parent-child-office.

© Fraunhofer IAO