I’m watching the CBS Early Show right now which is doing a story on a small but growing number of companies who are allowing parents to bring their babies to work. One company that they are profiling allows parents to bring babies to work during their first six months and notes that it makes ‘business sense’ and that it has increased productivity.
Americans work longer hours and take fewer vacations than many other industrial nations. The favourite comparison is to look at the French, who work notably fewer hours and take many more vacations. Yet the level of productivity for the two nations is comparable. (If I were feeling ambitious, I’d find the numbers since I recently read an article about this–but I’m not feeling that ambitious so just trust me on this or google it for yourself.)
It seems so typically American to approach the problem by finding a way to allow people to continue to work full-time rather than allowing them more flexible schedules or giving them time off to spend with their new babies.
One of the women that they interviewed noted that it was so wonderful because it allowed her to keep doing her job while bonding with her new daughter at the same time. I should point out that this particular woman was the CEO of a multi-million dollar real estate development company. She could have easily taken six months off, I’m sure, or worked some kind of flex-time. But she chose not to. She chose to build a nursery next to her office and continue to work the long hours that she was used to working.
She says that knowing that her daughter is in a crib just in the next room makes her not feel guilty about maintaining long hours.
Hard work is great and enjoying your job is even better but when will we realise that work is simply a means to an end, not the end itself? We all have to work in order to live but we really ought not to live to work.