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How companies abroad are revolutionizing childcare for expats

Features
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Written by Helena Delbecq on 05 July, 2024
Companies are increasingly aware that offering childcare services to their employees is a significant advantage in attracting young parents, especially expats. Many major cities around the world are facing a shortage of public nursery and kindergarten places, making the balance between work and personal life even more challenging. But innovation doesn't stop there: some employers now offer "overnight nannies" to their employees! Discover the employer-sponsored childcare systems that stand out for their originality.

Overnight nannies: An innovative childcare system

If you're an expat in Germany, you are perhaps familiar with daytime nannies, or "Tagesmutter" in German, who care for your child during typical office hours. Now, there are nannies who stay overnight at your home! As reported by the , this concept is gaining popularity in the UK and the US.

These early childhood professionals come to your home late in the evening and stay until early morning, caring for your child when they wake up in the middle of the night. Few parents can enjoy uninterrupted nights in the early stages, which can significantly impact work productivity. Based on this well-known observation, some employers have decided to fund an "overnight support" system.

However, this new arrangement sparks debates, as highlighted by the British newspaper. Is it not a disguised incentive for parents to return to work earlier, given that nights are now uninterrupted thanks to your overnight nanny? One company mentioned in the article offers its employees four months of fully paid maternity leave. The overnight nanny service applies if the employee decides to work instead of taking part of their parental leave, a measure that remains valid later on.

From the parents' perspective and family privacy, you may not feel comfortable having a professional sharing your nights under the same roof, especially if your living space is somewhat limited. Some parents may also feel a sense of guilt, not being able to care for their child without external intervention. Finally, if ongoing, there's a potential physiological barrier: breastfeeding makes this nighttime childcare method nearly impossible.

Nevertheless, the concept of overnight nannies now exists, and it's just beginning!

Other unconventional childcare solutions around the world

Turnkey childcare during business trips

According to an IFOP survey, over 40% of single parents have given up a job due to the incompatibility between business trips and childcare. Business trips remain a challenge for managing young children, even with help from grandparents or a spouse.

Today, turnkey childcare solutions are available during business trips. An early childhood professional comes to your home and ensures the transition until your return. This service is expanding significantly across Brazil, Mexico, Austria, the UK, and France. The good news is that some organizations offering these services have agreements with companies that can finance up to 100% of this childcare during business trips.

"Eltern-Kind Büro": When your children join you in the office

Do you hear children's laughter and chatter from the next room? In Germany, it might be a "parent-child office (Eltern-Kind Büro)"! Your child accompanies you to work and has a personalized space with toys and a small bed beside your desk. Yes, the concept is real and not so new. Originally designed as an alternative solution to address urgent childcare needs, some hope this system will further develop and that companies will consider deploying it on a larger scale as a regular childcare solution.

It goes without saying that the success of this setup will vary greatly depending on your child's age and needs. In the absence of other young companions nearby, you may find yourself frequently distracted, which seems counterproductive for work. Nevertheless, the idea has gained followers and has also been tested in North America. While not yet widely embraced as a permanent childcare method, it exists for emergencies, at least.

Intergenerational daycare

The concept of intergenerational daycare is gaining ground, with some companies beginning to sponsor such initiatives. These are shared care facilities where children and the elderly are looked after in the same space. In Japan, for instance, such structures are not uncommon.

According to the magazine , these facilities often start as care and reception centers for the elderly, with some areas adapted to accommodate younger children. Visiting one of these sites, the magazine describes a genuine interaction between these people at opposite ends of life. Seniors and their young friends visit the small shared garden they planted together, where children are free to play various games under the supervision or in collaboration with older people. If the children are already of school age (as in structures welcoming children after school), seniors help them with their homework after a snack together.

The magazine notes that there is still no explicit coordination or official policies to further support these initiatives, but some companies like L'Oréal in France are actively promoting the intergenerational concept and sponsoring this type of childcare.

Apart from childcare methods, many companies are enhancing their flexibility and offerings for young parent employees: extended parental leave, remote work opportunities, special days off for sick children, emergency childcare, and assistance in finding service providers, among others. Some companies, like Goldman Sachs also conduct workshops on parenting.

While not all companies are fully onboard yet, these emerging dynamics worldwide are worth observing and hold significant potential for making parenthood in a foreign country more compatible with the world of work.