Apple’s lack of daycare isn’t an oversight, it’s a feature

 mashable.com  5/20/2017 2:30:00 PM   Cassie Murdoch

After WIRED offered us all a peek into Apple’s new headquarters, one notable fact emerged: there’s no daycare center. Whooooopsie. 

Except this was no mistake. It was a big fat message to anyone who might be contemplating trying to balance family life with their obsessive devotion to their job. And that message reads, in the sleekest font imaginable, “nope.”

The 150-acre campus contains a huge fitness and wellness center and every other amenity you can possibly imagine. Basically everything you’d need to live your life at work. Unless, of course, your life includes children.

Kids are many things, but mostly they are messy. That goes against Apple’s whole vision of how the world should be — and it’s a vision that most of Silicon Valley shares. I’m not talking about being physically messy, though sticky children don’t exactly coordinate with Apple’s pristine white glass aesthetic. 

I’m talking about the fact that having kids messes with your life. They’re unpredictable, they get sick, they need attention — actual face time, not FaceTime. No one should stay at the office 24 hours a day, but most parents simply cannot.  

Being expected to work all the time affects everyone, but the burden falls disproportionately on mothers. Women, as you may have heard, aren’t super well represented in Silicon Valley. So maybe it's not a surprise that no one in the heavily male upper echelon of Apple took into account that lining up childcare is a costly and complicated endeavor for most families.

No one should stay at the office 24 hours a day, but most parents simply cannot.  

On-site daycare, of course, is not a perfect solution. But having reliable child care at your office makes being a working parent a lot easier. And in fact companies who provide it, like Patagonia, see a huge return in the form of retaining great workers

There are those who might argue that on-site child care isn’t practical for many employers. And that’s true. It requires space, though it’s hard to see how that’s a factor when this campus was custom built to serve the company’s exact needs. It’s also expensive, but come on, this is Apple we’re talking about. Cash is not a factor. 

Apple clearly could have included a daycare center if they’d wanted to. Hell, they could have built an entire K-12 school too. And probably a rocket launching pad for that matter. But these just weren’t priorities. And that says a lot. (Well, not the rocket launcher, but the other stuff.)

That’s maybe fine at this exact second, considering that daycare likely isn’t the most relevant benefit to large swathes of their workforce. After all, tech bros aren’t exactly breeders… yet. 

But this whole campus is a massive investment in Apple’s future, and their employees will not stay 25 forever. They’re going to grow up, and they’re going to start having kids. And as soon as they do, they’re going to be crazy thirsty for a place to drop those children off while they do their work. Too bad they're not going to find it. 

They will, however, find a daycare on Google's campus. 

Apple's shiny new HQ is not even open yet and already this thing feels like a relic of the past. That's what you get for building something exactly in the way Steve Jobs envisioned it. He wasn't exactly known for his own work-life balance, and so it's not a surprise that his idea of the future didn't include anyone who might want to actually see their family. 

Here’s the thing, though. Jobs is dead. And so is the idea that there’s no need for work-life balance in Silicon Valley. Lean in, riiiight? It may take a while for startup culture to come around to having families in-office, but it'll happen sooner or later.

It says a lot that Apple’s current leadership decided to double-down on such a family-unfriendly policy now. It’s especially ironic, coming from a company whose famous for the motto “Think Different.” This is some very same-y, old school thinking. 

And, make no mistake, there was plenty of thinking involved in this endeavor. Every molecule of the campus was designed within an inch of its life. They designed the door handles, the specific angle of the windows, the goddamn pizza boxes. They didn’t forget to put a daycare in, they just didn’t want one.

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