Canada’s largest corporate child care provider, Kids & Company, is launching a new concept to incorporate co-working spaces for parents at several North American locations.
The Kidco Work initiative will be piloted in a few locations across Canada and the United States, including the launch at the Queen Street West (308 Queen Street West) centre in Toronto. It is then expected to roll out in five other Canadian cities and two in the U.S.
Victoria Sopik, the CEO of Kids & Company, said the company’s original business model was geared to supporting its corporate clients with flexible child care.
“We realized that we were missing a big group of potential working people,” Sopik told RENX. “Those were people who were self-employed or had flexible work arrangements with their corporate clients, with our corporate clients, where they didn’t have to be in the same office every day and could work from other environments.”
Kids & Company looked at the growing trend of providing co-working office space for different needs. Sopik said that led to the concept of embedding co-working spaces within the child care centres.
She said the concept could appeal to several types of workers:
* independent business owners who have an office space in their home, but would like to move somewhere else to do their work;
* people who work out of places like Starbucks and other coffee shops all day long;
* mothers back from maternity leave who want to be closer to their babies;
* and people who have flexible work arrangements with employers.
Innovation for working parents
“Our mission has always been to understand and innovate the lives of working families,” said Sopik, a mother of eight. “Kidco Work is a direct response to Canadians’ evolving sense of work/life balance and parents’ increasing need for flexibility and convenience in all facets of their lives.
“Kidco Work allows families to further customize their day-to-day to suit their family’s unique needs. We’re proud to be offering a child-first solution that looks at the whole picture and addresses the connection between changing work trends and trusted child care.”
Kidco work spaces are available to parents with children enrolled in any Kids & Company child care program (from one to five days a week, full- or part-time). Hot desks are available at a flat rate of $200 per month and the co-working spaces are located inside the child care centres. Amenities include hot desks and lounge areas, high-speed WiFi, printers and complimentary light snacks from the Kidco kitchens.
Sopik said the community at Kidco Work is made up of like-minded entrepreneurs, contractors and employees who prioritize both work and family. Flexible child care schedules with access to co-working spaces 11 hours a day means participants have options to suit their needs.
“We’re very anxious to provide it because we feel that this generation of working parents want everything that they can get,” she said. “You have to be a parent that has a child in the child care centre in order to use the work spaces.”
Kidco pilot starts at 10 locations
The work spaces can accommodate between six to 10 stations for people to work.
“We anticipate having it in many of our locations. So, we could have hundreds of people using it if parents wanted to,” said Sopik. “We’ve had great interest.”
Right now, 10 designated locations in Canada and the U.S. will have the Kidco Work concept. After Toronto, it will also be launched in Boston, Chicago, Edmonton, Halifax, Surrey, Ottawa and Calgary (at Britannia Crossing and London House).
Kids & Company is a corporate child care centre. Employers pay a membership fee allowing their employees to access the child care facilities.
The company was founded in 2002 in Toronto and today has 124 locations. The child care centres have a minimum of 5,000 square feet of space, with some as large as 10,000 to 13,000 square feet.
On a yearly basis, more than 40,000 children come to the centres. Just under 10,000 are accommodated on a regular basis (daily, or on a fixed weekly schedule). It also provides emergency or backup child care when people’s regular child care is not available. The company leases all of its space.
“We are growing across Canada and across the U.S. We’re typically class-A (office space) but we’re also in some nice developments that are in live-work-play communities,” said Sopik.
When asked about future growth, she replied: “There’s no end to the amount of children that there are in the world. So we’ve got a pretty huge open runway, that’s for sure.”