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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London