Kids & Work: mission (im)possible?
According to the latest Global Coworking Survey, it is estimated that 1.7 million users will work in around 19,000 co-working spaces by the end of 2018. These spaces boomed thanks to their positive model: they offer flexibility, networking opportunities and a good work-life balance to workers. But still, a vast amount of working parents don’t seem to have it all. Flexible working models don’t make it much easier for workers with children, who still have difficulties in finding suitable, cheap and close childcare facilities, not to mention the stress that running around circles and traffic can cause.
Despite their success, co-working spaces are lacking one important service: childcare. Considering the growing demand for childcare facilities, why aren’t co-working offering such services?
The answer is pretty straightforward: money. Such facilities require big investments and bring limited revenue, therefore aren't considered a good return on investment. Co-working spaces already have difficulties keeping up with financial issues related to their own business and childcare is considered to create further economic problems.
But a part from money, childcare imposes a lot of requirements and regulations, e.g. regulated locations, specialized staff and licenses just to name a few. It’s a risk that not everybody is willing to take.
At the same time and without any doubt childcare facilities provide added value to co-working spaces. If it is true that co-working spaces offer better work-life balance, childcare services are required and can consist in a variety of models - for all budget: from traditional onsite daycare facilities to temporary “popup” and share models. Going into details, childcare facilities offer several benefits, for both employers and for employees. Imagine your child playing safely with trained staff next door in your workplace: you will work harder and better. Why? Just because onsite childcare limits the stress and anxiety that having your own child away can cause, making workers focus on their job, improving productivity while reducing absenteeism and tardiness. In this way working parents feel like the company is caring for them, bringing more satisfaction and work engagement.
Several businesses run childcare in their co-working space in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia. Here just a few examples of co-working spaces that did it.
Nido in North Carolina, Coworking Cvernovka in Sovakia, Third Door in London, are just some of the spaces that offer on-site childcare facilities. But such facilities require costs that not every company can afford. That is why other spaces implemented different forms of childcare services. Free Range Office and Collide Coworking in Chicago for example offer experimental “popup” childcare services instead. The Village Works in Boston works with local childcare providers instead. The Workaround in Brooklyn offers babysitting swaps, kind of “co-op” models where members babysit each other's children - at parks, indoor play spaces, or in their homes -. In this way there is no designated childcare space and eventually it creates a sort of community feeling around children and working parents.
To sum up, childcare requires with no doubts a great cost, in terms of money, time and patience. But it is an opportunity and a good investment in the long-term. In the recent co-working space competitive landscape, childcare facilities represent an added value, capable of attract new clients. Maybe it is not just a matter of money. We still have to overcome some cultural barriers.
Are we ready?