When I began working at my previous employer, the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, in 1994, I didn’t have children yet. I traveled 45 miles away to pick up my young niece, Kris, so I could have a stand-in “daughter at work.” Kris and I hung around the office that day, went out to lunch, and played the roles of workers in a fairly understated way.
As Healthy Kids grew, Take Kids to Work Day evolved. We had a larger staff, a broader scope of work, and it would be unwieldy to have a bunch of children of various ages roaming around the office at loose ends. Therefore, we created elaborate plans for Take Kids to Work Day. These were 2-3 hour after school dismissed. The kids did all kinds of activities, explored the world of work in an age-appropriate way, and ate snacks (of course!).
Now that I am a part of the Weaving Influence team, I no longer go to an office every day. The same is true for most of my co-workers (we do have a small headquarters office in Michigan). As April 28 approached, my co-workers and I started thinking about how Take Kids to Work Day is different for virtual workers.
1) How does being a virtual worker affect your child’s perception of what you do?
2) What is a lesson about the workplace you want your child to grow up having learned from you? and
3) What advice does your child have for how to be a success at work?
Margy, our Web Projects Manager, says her infant daughter doesn’t really have an opinion (yet) on her mother’s role as a virtual worker. Margy hopes to impart this lesson: No matter what you do for a living, you should act with the same values and principles in every aspect of work and life.
Joanna, our Book Launch Assistant, says: “My oldest (age 4) gets that I ‘do work for Miss Becky and Miss Carrie,’ but that’s about all she knows about it. She says I get to work from home because I have kids and I don’t have the same boss as Daddy.
Joanna wants her children to work hard, at whatever they do, but to know boundaries. Working from home sometimes makes it hard to have those boundaries, especially because she doesn’t have a separate office in her house. She continues, “I also want them to enjoy what they do enough to find some value in it, and I want them to do all that they do with integrity.”
To succeed at work, Joanna’s daughter recommends: Follow directions, be a good listener, pay attention.
Carrie, our Book Launch Director, shared about her brother, who has run a very successful business out of his home for 25 years. His two sons grew up knowing that their dad would not only be doing what it took to pay the bills (working Sunday afternoons or late at night), but he would also be at every one of their sporting events (coaching most of them), school events, or down on the floor to play trains with them when they were small. Work fit around their family, not the other way round, and that lesson was super important for both boys.
The main difference I think my children perceive about my status as a “virtual” worker rather than a “brick and mortar” worker is the lack of boundaries. My teenager sees me at the laptop at the dining room table and for all he knows I may be perusing Facebook watching cat videos as opposed to compiling a blog post for the Lead Change Group. Creating those boundaries is a constant learning process.
As far as a lesson I want my children to learn about the workplace, I have many hopes, dreams, and expectations. I am sure I share those with most parents. It is important to me that my children learn to ask intelligent, strategic questions and apply common sense. They have grown up in a world of instant gratification (compared to previous generations) and information at the click of a mouse. There are times when you have to wait, and times when the first answer you get is not the best answer. I hope they apply patience and persistence as they continue to grow.
My son, a 16-year-old of few words (at least when it comes to blog post help for mom), did pack those few words with a the truth:
How about you? Whether you work at a traditional office or as part of a virtual team, we would still be interested in your thoughts about Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day!
What is a lesson about the workplace you want your child to grow up having learned from you?
What advice does your child have for how to be a success at work (and is it more than my son’s six words?!)?
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