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Last week I found myself taking a meeting from my car (using my cell phone as a hot spot for my computer) while I kept a loose eye on my 4 year old through the window of the playplace I was parked in front of. How could THIS be the best scenario for a working parent whose child is unexpectedly out of school?
That morning I wracked my brain for a place that could serve us both– somewhere that would allow me to do necessary work in peace and allow him to socialize and be cared for appropriately– and I came up empty. I could think of a few child-centered spaces that had toys and slides but didn’t have a place where I could take a call without bothering the other patrons. I considered several co-working spaces where I could rent an office but would have nowhere to put my child. With no babysitter available, my choice was either to leave my kid in front of the tv for hours and pray he’d stay silent, or send him in to play while I Zoomed from my car and hoped no one would ask where his mom was.
The thought looped in my mind the whole afternoon: Why isn’t there a co-working space with childcare?
The landscape of work has changed significantly in the past few years, moving from the traditional in-office 9-to-5 grind to the more flexible and dynamic arrangements we see today. Co-working spaces have emerged as a popular choice for remote and hybrid workers as they offer the flexibility, community, and atmosphere that some remote employees miss. While these spaces offer tons of benefits, including coffee bars, free wifi, and even classes and mentorship, they tend to lack the thing that working parents need most: CHILDCARE. Co-working spaces should consider offering childcare because of how it could benefit parents, businesses and society as a whole.
Addressing the Needs of Working Parents
The modern workforce is diverse with many individuals choosing to pursue both parenthood and a career. For working parents, however, finding a balance between their professional and family lives can be a struggle. Parents can find themselves cutting corners in one or both areas, particularly if they’re working while also caring for children in the home.
Co-working spaces can play a pivotal role in addressing this challenge. By providing on-site childcare services, they create an environment where working parents can maintain their careers without compromising their child’s care and development. This not only benefits individual parents but also contributes to a more inclusive and equitable workforce.
Fostering a Supportive Community
Co-working spaces are known for their sense of community and collaboration. When these spaces incorporate childcare services, they enhance the sense of belonging and support for working parents. Parents can connect with others who are facing similar challenges, creating a network of shared experiences and mutual assistance.
This sense of community can go beyond the professional realm. Parents can form friendships, exchange parenting advice, and provide emotional support to one another. In doing so, co-working spaces become more than just places of work; they become spaces for real human connection during a season of life that can feel isolating.
Encouraging Moms in the Workforce
One of the persistent challenges in achieving gender equality in the workplace is the unequal distribution of caregiving responsibilities. In many societies, women are still expected to bear the brunt of childcare duties, and this results in a dramatic drop in workforce participation after birth. U.S. Census data shows that workforce participation by women falls by 18% after the birth of a child and continues to drop with each subsequent birth. The lack of accessible, affordable, and consistent childcare options can force employees, largely women, out of the workforce entirely.
Co-working spaces with on-site childcare can help mitigate this gender-based employment gap by creating an environment where both men and women can pursue their careers equally knowing their kids are cared for.
Supporting Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often face unique challenges when it comes to work. They may not have the resources to lease an office space, much less to offer childcare for their employees! Co-working spaces that offer childcare can act as incubators for startups and small businesses, providing them with a competitive edge as they attract and retain talent.
Additionally, parents who are aspiring entrepreneurs can pursue their business ventures with greater ease when they have access to on-site childcare. This support can lead to the growth of innovative startups and contribute to economic development.
Strengthening the Local Economy
The presence of co-working spaces with childcare facilities can have a positive impact on the local economy. These spaces could attract professionals from various sectors, leading to increased foot traffic and money flow in the area. Local businesses, such as cafes, restaurants, and shops, can benefit from the patronage of co-working space members and their families.
Enhancing Child Development
Co-working spaces that offer childcare services can create environments that are conducive to child development. These facilities can be designed to provide age-appropriate activities, educational opportunities, and social interaction for children. This not only supports parents in their work but also contributes to the holistic development of the next generation.
Research has shown that early childhood education and socialization are critical for a child’s cognitive and social development. Co-working spaces that employ qualified childcare providers ensure that children receive high-quality care and early education opportunities while their parents work nearby.
Fostering a Culture of Inclusivity
Inclusivity is a core value in today’s society, and businesses that prioritize inclusivity tend to thrive. Co-working spaces that offer childcare send a clear message that they value inclusion. This can attract a more diverse membership base and create a welcoming atmosphere for individuals from various backgrounds.
By providing accessible childcare, co-working spaces also accommodate parents who have children with disabilities and who may need to stay close to their child while they work. This commitment to inclusivity benefits not only the co-working space but also society as a whole.
Mitigating the School Calendar Challenge
Many parents believe that when their children start school, the need for childcare will decrease. While this can be helpful, the school schedule on a daily or monthly basis does not align with most parents’ typical workday. In addition to mid-afternoon pick-up times (some as early as 2pm!), schools routinely schedule days off for holidays, professional development, parent-teacher conferences and more. A co-working space with childcare services could fill in the gap for parents who don’t need daily childcare but who want or need to work when their child is out of school intermittently.
Co-working Space With Childcare
Co-working spaces have revolutionized the way we work, offering flexibility, collaboration, and community. However, by incorporating on-site childcare services, they have the potential to go even further in meeting the needs of working parents and businesses alike. Offering childcare facilities within co-working spaces not only supports parents in their professional pursuits but can also contribute to increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and a sense of community. It can break down gender stereotypes, stimulate entrepreneurship, strengthen the local economy, enhance child development, and foster a culture of inclusivity.
As the work landscape continues to evolve, co-working spaces that recognize the importance of childcare are well-positioned to lead the way in creating a more equitable and inclusive workforce. By investing in childcare services, co-working spaces can truly become spaces where both professional success and family life can flourish side by side.