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Why Tech Companies Celebrate “Take Your Parents to Work Day”

Source | LinkedIn : Laszlo Bock

In 2012, Google held its first (and perhaps *the* first … let me know!) Take Your Parents to Work Day. LinkedIn launched theirs the next year and just announced that their fourth one is coming up in November. And I recently saw that Amazon successfully hosted their first Bring Your Parents to Work Day earlier in September, welcoming more than 5,000 parents to their new campus in downtown Seattle.

These kinds of events often look like classic examples of Silicon Valley excess. They’re not. They cost almost nothing: a little coordination and maybe some bagels for breakfast are all you need. And they also build community and give us a chance to say thank you to the folks who raised us.

In Chapter 11 of my book, Work Rules!, I wrote about how these days work, and why they are important:

Excerpted from Chapter 11: The Best Things in Life Are Free (or Almost Free)

A sense of community helps people do their best work just as surely as increasing efficiency does by sweeping away minor chores and distractions. As we’ve grown, we’ve fought to maintain the sense of community we had when we were just a handful of people, and we’ve expanded our definition of community to include Googlers’ children, spouses, partners, parents, and even grandparents.

Many companies hold a “Take Your Child to Work Day,” as we have for many years. In 2012, we held our first annual “Take Your Parents to Work Day,” and welcomed over two thousand parents to our Mountain View office and over five hundred parents to our office in New York.

Each day starts with a welcome, and then either a peek at what we’re building, or an insider’s account of our history. One year we had Omid Kordestani, our founding sales executive, talk about growing Google from ten people to twenty thousand. Another year, Amit Singhal, our SVP of Search, recalled how, as a child in India, he watched Star Trek’s Captain Kirk direct his computer by talking to it, and how astonishing it is that Google Now allows him to do exactly the same thing. The rest of the day is filled with product demonstrations, where parents can check out our self-driving cars or stand in a twenty-foot-tall room with Google Earth projected all around them to explore the campus, and then join a special TGIF hosted by Larry and our senior team. We now host these days in more than nineteen offices, including Beijing, Colombia, Haifa, Tokyo, London, and New York City, and add more each year.

Take Your Parents to Work Day isn’t about humoring helicopter parents who continue to coddle their fully grown children. Instead, it’s a chance for us to say thank you and broaden the Google family. Not surprisingly, our parents are incredibly proud of us and, surprisingly, most of them have no idea what we do for a living. Helping them appreciate the impact their children have, even when those children are fifty years old, is heartwarming. I was stopped a dozen times by parents with tears in their eyes, delighted at the chance to get closer to their children, and grateful to be recognized for having raised such amazing people. The Googlers loved it too. Tom Johnson wrote that “Thinking about taking [my mother] around the place I am so proud to work [at] and seeing how happy she was to spend the time with me brings a wide smile to my face every time.”

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