I want a baby.
But not in the traditional sense of "bundle of joy." Instead, I'd like a baby to do my job for me. After failing to find an assistant that I could pay $1 an hour, I gave up hope. I was lost. I did a lot of soul-searching. Needless to say, I was listening to a lot of Joy Division.
Anyway, last week, I was looking to contact HometownQuotes, a Tennessee-based insurance quoting company, but became distracted. While on the company's website, I noticed a few interesting pictures [such as the one on the left] and learned that the company was promoting a new program in their office called "Babies In The Workplace." I clicked on it to find out more and it led me to www.babiesatwork.org.
And that's when it hit me: I could get a baby to do my job for free.
No, my job is not easy enough that any baby could do it. But I feel like I could train a baby to do it, because I'm just that good at training.
So I contacted the founder of Babies In The Workplace, Carla Moquin, and learned that the main theme of her program is actually helping parents be near their child(ren) throughout the work week. A small misunderstanding on my part. But no matter!
I would continue with my glorious plan, because the point remained that Moquin was still my best contact for getting a baby to do my job. I mean, I've only been trying for a matter of days now. Moquin's been trying to get babies into the workplace for years.
In 2005, Moquin was researching topics to write for freelance articles so she could supplement her income as a soon-to-be-divorced mother. She stumbled upon an article about a babies-at-work program. This led to an interview that led to more interviews, more articles and more research.
Then she started writing a book about it.
"But the book was going to take too long to go through the agent and publication process, so I created a website in June of 2007 to get this information out. By that point, I had located several dozen baby-friendly companies," Moquin recalls. "The website led to an article in The Boston Globe in late 2007 and interest from Time Magazine."
Moquin founded the Parenting At The Workplace Institute in December 2007, finished and published the original book and how-to guide in July 2008 and totally redesigned the Babies In The Workplace site around the same time.
It seems Moquin wants babies in the workplace more than I do. America's thinking, however, doesn't seem to be in line with Moquin and myself--though the country's perspective of babies in the workplace is improving.
"As the workplace has become more flexible, focused on task productivity instead of 'desk time,' and more technology based instead of industrial, children have increasingly been welcome into the workplace, although there is still a long way to go," Moquin says. "The Society for Human Resource Management estimated that 29 percent of businesses allowed children at work in 2007, up from 22 percent in 2006."
Even though Moquin and I want babies in the workplace for marginally different reasons (Moquin: helping parents, Me: helping me), we should consider what could be done to get these babies in the office. I mean, once they're here, does it really matter if I teach them what to highlight in articles or how to utilize Profnet, a website for journalists (and baby journalists, which we'll call "Journies" to sound more adorable)?
What could we do to get these babies in the workplace? I asked Moquin.
"The primary step to make things easier for parents and families in the workplace is for employers to learn the connection between employer flexibility and business success," Moquin says. "Organizations like Winning Workplaces and WFC Resources provide useful information on the connection between happy workers and a productive workplace. The single most effective step for an employer is simply being willing to try new options, such as flexible schedules, babies at work, etc., on a small scale and within an established framework. Many family-friendly (and this includes people without children) policies can be intimidating in theory from the standpoint of traditional office structures. Once they're put in place, however, as long as they're set up with appropriate guidelines, employers generally find that the benefits for the business in terms of retention, morale, teamwork, productivity and customer loyalty far outweigh any theoretical concerns they may have had."
Yes. Moquin had laid the groundwork for my plan. It didn't matter if she was doing an exceptional amount of good for parent-employees. She still had the resources to help me, and maybe a baby or two hanging around that I could put to work for a good price. I mean, the program is called Babies In The Workplace. I'm really just giving these babies something to do.
I investigated further.
"Our database of baby-friendly companies encompasses more than 23 different types of industries and more than 37 states, and several in other countries," Moquin says. "And baby-friendly companies range from two to 3,000 employees."
Certainly this database was my golden ticket to napping on the job while Gizmo (that's what I'd like to name my baby assistant) would do all the work for me.
After doing all of my research about Moquin, I figured I could sway her into putting a baby in my cubicle to learn the good skills of journalism. I mean, come on, I would be giving this kid life lessons from an early age. The baby could probably already freelance by the time he or she entered kindergarten.
Mildly amused and wildly delusional, I pressed the issue, asking Carla the hard-hitting questions...
JK: Am I able to purchase a baby to put to work from Babies In The Workplace?
CM: We may be able to arrange for placement of babies, with attached parent, for team building and morale enhancement.
JK: Attached parent, eh? I don't like the sound of that. How many babies am I able to purchase anyway? What is the going rate?
CM: There is no limit to the number of babies you can procure, although it is probably most effective when you have fewer babies than employees on the premises. The going rate is quite reasonable, considering the alternative of not having the accompanying parents at work at all after they have a baby.
JK: I see. Now, when I purchase said army of babies, can I name all of them or do they already respond to assigned names?
CM: Babies are very intelligent and start learning language before birth, so they may respond to their names very early in life. However, you are welcome to give them nicknames, subject to parental approval.
JK: "Gizmo" it is! "Hellfire" if my workload increases and I need a second baby, which I highly doubt. Also, what do these babies know about fact-checking and article proofing?
CM: The babies do not come pre-programmed, but they learn quickly. One problem you may encounter is that, even when they know exactly how to fix your article, you'll have to wait for your answer until they learn to talk.
JK: I don't really want to wait...new idea! Can I race these babies?
CM: Considering that most babies-at-work programs stop allowing babies when they start to crawl, the races might not be very exciting to viewers. Babies love to explore, though, so you are welcome to invite them to race.
JK: Excellent! Since I doubt any one of my relatives, friends or co-workers would support this inane scheme, does wearing a top hat and pointing to it count as a good reference?
CM: Definitely. Especially with babies. And it's even better if you dance at the same time.
So I created this picture with Photoshop to show Carla Moquin what a cool, hip baby-owner I could be (notice the bonus sunglasses):
Is that reference enough for you, Carla?
Keep your fingers crossed everyone.
WRITER'S NOTE: The rough draft of this blog didn't include me ever explaining that Babies In The Workplace was to help parents. Originally, I made it seem like it was a legit temp agency, trying to help babies get out of unemployment in such an awful economy. All of my quotes and statistics were going to make it look like there were actual toddlers doing office work across America. It worked perfectly. However, I abandoned this draft to avoid confusion among readers and because Carla Moquin is way too kind for anyone to believe she would ever be involved in such a ridiculous project.*
* Still though, how rad would it be if baby "Gizmo" could do my job?