Play and Bring Your Kids to Work inDay

June 23, 2011

Every month on InDay we’re encouraged to take a break from our normal work routines to focus on doing something completely different – something that will help change our own perspectives and perhaps the lives of others. I can honestly say that June’s “play-themed” InDay succeeded for me on both fronts. Let me explain.

Recently, my 7-year-old daughter, Siena, asked me if we could have a “kids day” at my work. I asked around, and before I knew it, my day job in Sales had temporarily morphed into chief event planner for LinkedIn’s first “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” at our Mountain View campus.

Thankfully, helped by a long list of ideas from my daughter, the Employee Experience Team of Brooke Lopez and Connie Wang, and a team of 50 enthusiastic volunteers from across the company, the day took on a life of its own. Over 200 kids participated in a range of activities that were educational, inspirational and most of all – fun.

Our morning was geared toward learning. VP of People Operations Steve Cadigan opened the day by welcoming the kids with a playful pop quiz of LindkedIn office facts, and handed out prizes for correct answers. Equipped with maps, kids and their parents were then sent on a self-guided scavenger hunt throughout the campus to learn about many of the different jobs our colleagues do day to day.

Employee speakers led workshops on various topics including product management and volunteerism. In one of the more popular sessions - engineering and inventing - our VP of Product Adam Nash encouraged the kids to think about how things they like to do today could spark them to create a life changing invention. Unsurprisingly, there was at least one future paleontologist, Xbox designer and inventor in the room!

The afternoon was dedicated to play – and at times it was hard to tell between the kids and the grownups who was having more fun. From face painting and spin art projects to bounce houses and a rock climbing wall, there was something for everyone. The Right to Play "Create a Soccer Ball Challenge” also gave us a chance to look at how life is for children and adults in other parts of the world, as we attempted to create a soccer ball out of materials on hand, just as many children in underdeveloped countries do when they want to play.

While the day for me was about creating a great experience for kids, I learned from it as well. I was able to see first-hand the truth in the saying: “Kids just want to be with you, [their parent].”

The experience also taught me a little lesson in resilience. As parents, we try to prepare and plan for everything. As InDay volunteers, we planned, discussed and organized every aspect of the day, and yet parts turned out differently than planned. What I noticed from the kids, though, was that they were playing and laughing just the same.

So tonight, when my daughter asked me to come outside and play, I set aside what I was doing and went outside with her instead. She gave me a big smile and we had many laughs together. In the end, I think that’s what play (and InDay) is really about: connecting with others in simple, meaningful and often unpredictable ways.