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Every Day Is Bring Your Kids To Work Day At This New Coworking Concept

Throughout Katie Carlin’s career as a regulatory and startup attorney, she saw a glaring problem that was impacting office retention, especially in the tech world: the need for child care.

Equal Play founder Katie Carlin

“I noticed a lack of child care and a real pain point around day care,” she said. “Child care is a necessity for working mothers.”

Many tech giants don’t offer childcare and those that do have really long waiting lists, she said. Only 17 Fortune 100 companies offer some form of on-site child care, according to The Outline. As a mother, she juggled raising her kids with law school and moving up in her law career, and she experienced a lack of quality child care firsthand. 

She saw through a tech group on social media that mothers were struggling with separating from their infants and going back to work, often two months after giving birth. Women often drive to different locations to drop off their babies and then drive to work, which wastes time, she said.

Her new coworking concept, The Garden by Equal Play, in San Mateo hopes to take a step toward fixing these pain points.

The Garden will span over 6K SF in two buildings in downtown San Mateo. It will include a large open area for child care as well as an upstairs space with high ceilings that will have a mix of hot desks, reserved desks and private offices. Members also will have access to a patio where they can eat lunch or work outside.

The coworking company will join a handful of other companies offering full-time child care that allows parents a place to work not far from their children. Similar concepts include Play, Work or Dash in Vienna, Virginia; Nido, which offers a Montessori preschool in Durham, North Carolina; and Collab&Play in Los Angeles.

“My grand vision is to reduce maternity attrition,” Carlin said. “Many women leave the workforce because the trade-off is too awful to make and women, where they can afford to, pick their families.” 

When she recently went back to school for a degree in decision science, she studied the tech ecosystem and how it was and wasn’t working for women. She realized that the coworking model could really help address a lack of child care at work. 

The Garden by Equal Play in San Mateo

At The Garden, women will have the opportunity to nurse on demand, take a nap and then go back to work in the same location. She said this work model could be a more effective way for parents to transition back into the workforce.

The child care can accommodate infants and toddlers as well as school-age children who may have a day off from school. She said she has already hired three child care professionals.

Monthly membership costs as much as $2,850, which includes a reserved desk and five days per week of child care as well as meals, diapers and wipes. She said Equal Play, which could expand to sites beyond The Garden, also is working with a nonprofit that places people in coworking spaces to offer low-income parents and caregivers affordable child care.

“This [coworking] industry as well as every single industry can learn that women’s needs and the needs of caregivers and the needs of children are critical to address,” she said. “It’s a huge addressable market.”

Carlin said she expects the coworking space to open as early as Aug. 13.