Bring Your Parent To Work Day

This Thursday is the first 'bring your parent to work' day. So, what happens when employees take their folks to the office? Independent features editor Rebecca Armstrong (and her father Mike) found out

When I suggested my father come to work with me for a day, I should have known that, despite my best efforts, he'd turn up well before I did. And that he'd be multi-tasking before I'd even put my mascara on. "I'm already at your office," he texted. "But since you're not here yet, I'll go to the Post Office because I've got a package to send. Do you want a coffee when you get in? Where from?" Still, at least he was getting the lattes in.

Depending on their age, most people I've asked have either brought their children to work, or have been to one of their parents' workplaces as a child themselves, either due to a school-backed day of office exploration or because of teacher training, school holidays or a lack of childcare. Bring their folks in? Not so much. Well, not at all. It wouldn't have occurred to me, either, until I read about Google's first Take Your Parents To Work Day in New York earlier this year.

Thanks to the hi-tech complexity of what many of the corporation's employees do (as well as the fact that so many of them are under 30), Google turned its attention to explaining to mums and dads what it is that their children do all day, through workshops and a tour of the 16-storey office. While I don't wrangle complex data or create algorithms, I thought my father might like to see what my job entailed. As a reader of The Independent, he jumped at the chance to see what goes into producing a daily paper.

Once I'd arrived, I gave him a quick tour of the newsroom, explaining that it was fairly empty first thing, but would fill up over the day. As I prepared for morning conference – the meeting in which editors put forward their lists of what they intend to run in the next day's paper – my dad suggested ideas. And chatted about what my brother and sister had been up to. And told me about the new bargains he'd acquired from eBay. And… "Dad," I said. "We need to play the quiet game for a bit." Suddenly, a colleague's joke years ago that sitting next to me was like listening to "Radio Armstrong" struck home.

This came as no surprise to Maya Forrester, a human resources officer, whom I spoke to for an HR perspective on employees bringing their parents, rather than their children, to the workplace. "Parents would be much more stressful. I think they would affect your performance – I can't do anything when my mum is watching! Also, they are more likely to interrupt and ask questions and disturb everyone else."

The Editor certainly looked quite stressed when I introduced my father in conference – as dad bounded up with his hand outstretched, the Editor looked as though he feared a telling off about working conditions or a lecture on why I should be promoted.

Not all bosses are quite so spooked about having parents wandering about the place. On Thursday, companies in 14 countries will throw open their doors to parents as part of the first LinkedIn Bring In Your Parents Day. The social network came up with its plan after commissioning a survey about parents' awareness of their children's jobs. Although 97 per cent of the parents polled were proud of their offspring's achievements, 46 per cent didn't fully understand their child's job. And more than a quarter of adult children believed that it would benefit both them and their parents if there were greater understanding about their careers.

"My team was talking about how their parents have had wonderful careers and they have wonderful advice to give but they don't always know what we do," explained Danielle Restivo of LinkedIn. "It sprang out of the fact that I had recently got an email from my mum that said: 'I've been trying to explain to my friends what it is you do and I just can't. Please write me a short paragraph that's very easy to understand and I will carry it around with me and use it when I'm describing what you do.' Other colleagues have had similar experiences. While our parents are proud of us no matter what, there's a bit of a gap there, especially because a lot of the jobs that exist today didn't exist five or 10 years ago."

Although my dad is media- and computer-savvy and had a pretty good idea of the basics of my job (come up with ideas for articles, ask people to write them, put them on the page) there were parts that had obviously been a bit of a mystery to him. Why we'd cover certain stories and not others, the production programme we used to create the paper and who did what and why. I had no qualms in giving him some work to do, though. As a self-confessed gadget nut, I asked him to research some shopping pages – if he could find time in between bouts of advising my colleagues which consumer tech they should be buying. He also bought a round of teas, which made him very popular.

LinkedIn's suggestions for its parents-to-work day sound a bit less arduous. "We did a trial of the day in our Dublin office and what we found worked really well was a half day," says Restivo. "Parents came in in the afternoon, there was a presentation about what LinkedIn is, they had a chance to ask some questions and get to the nitty gritty. They had a tour of the office, got to spend some time with their kids at their desks. Then there was a cocktail reception to wrap things up." Part-timers! Still, I let my dad go home at 5.30, about two hours before I usually leave, as he was on duty with my younger siblings.

LinkedIn's research also looked into which jobs baffle parents the most. In at number one was user-interface designer, with PR manager ranked seventh. Eleanor Jones, strategy director at Splendid communications agency (aka a high-flying public relations professional), is bringing her mother to work this week. "Over the years, my mum Sandra has taken an active interest, so she does know what I do. I think that what she probably can't picture is the day-to-day tasks," she explained. "When I moved jobs, one of the first things my mum said to me was "can you take a picture of your desk?" so she could picture where I was. That's the biggest excitement for me: that she's going to come in and spend time with the people I spend an awful lot of time with and see what I actually do."

I had a great time showing off my dad, and showing him what I do and why I love it and it was very sweet the next day when he called excitedly from the airport saying he'd seen some of the pages we'd worked on in front of him in his newspaper. He can come back any time he likes – he makes a very good cuppa.

For more information on LinkedIn's Bring In Your Parents Day visit linkedinbringinyourparents.com

Mike Armstrong, parent

When Rebecca called me on a Friday to tell me about the scheme that Google had tried out, I immediately said yes – and came in the following Monday.

Over the weekend, I remembered taking my little girl (who was seven at the time, I think) to my office in Slough, where all the ladies in the office made a fuss of her.

She learnt something of my world that day: I was in sales for a German chemical company, and when asked what her daddy did for a living, shortly afterwards, she answered confidently: "He sells potions"!

I hadn't realised the Indy's office was in such an impressive edifice (the old Barkers department store in London's Kensington High Street), so that was a good start.

I saw a modern newspaper office, got to meet many of Rebecca's closest colleagues and listen to (and take part in) several discussions on the items set to be in the coming week's editions. I was allowed to sit in on the editorial meeting, although given strict instructions to keep schtum!

For me, the highlights were the nice comments about my beloved girl from her colleagues and the opportunity to stroll around Kensington's back streets with her, to find lunch.

"Take Your Parent to Work" was a great idea and allowed me to visit a work environment, very different to mine, and – most importantly of all – spend a rare day with my "tallest daughter".

I think that more companies should try it.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

    £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

    Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Day In a Page

    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review