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Take your child to work day goes virtual in the age of coronavirus

Kids are regularly busting up teleconference calls as parents work from home, so some companies figured: Let’s focus on them for a change.

Children dressed in different work uniforms.
The annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is moving online this year, just like work for many parents.
daughtersandsonstowork.org

Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day may seem like a lost cause in the age of the coronavirus, or fodder for satirical memes featuring kids interrupting work-from-home parents.

But many companies will be attempting to gin up the spirit of the occasion by hosting video conferences for employees and their children to celebrate the day, which normally falls on the third Thursday of April.

Kelly Duff, employee experience manager at Sentinel Technologies in Downers Grove, said the idea was met by co-workers with humor and goodwill.

“The reaction was kind of ‘Isn’t every day take your kids to work day?’ she said with a laugh, noting kids are regularly making unscheduled cameos in daily teleconference calls.

“If this was any regular year, there’d be kids squeezing bubble wrap in the warehouse and things like that,” she said.

Parents will field questions about what they do and kids will be asked about their favorite technologies and be challenged to come up with an idea for an app, Duff said.

“We wanted to give everybody a break from the monotony and just have some fun with it,” she said.

The human resources folks at Nasdaq are tapping a group of employees and kids, including several from Chicago, for a similar teleconference call.

The group will briefly be beamed onto the company’s seven-story digital screen in Times Square in New York to remotely ring the Nasdaq Stock Market opening bell, company spokeswoman Emily Pan said.

Hopefully kids get a sense of what their parents do, Pan said. “It’s kind of a vague concept to work at the stock exchange,” she said.

Dan and Lindsey Romito with their children, from left, Brayden, Dominic and Estelle.
Dan and Lindsey Romito with their children, from left, Brayden, Dominic and Estelle.
Provided

Dominic Romito, 8, is definitely foggy on how his dad, Dan Romito, 39, spends the day in his basement office of their Mundelein home.

“I have no idea what he does,” he said. His younger brother, Brayden, says “Dad plays with numbers all day.”

Romito works in business development for Nasdaq, normally at his office in the Loop.

“This will be a nice little diversion, you can only play so many games of Battleship and Risk,” he joked.

Carolyn McKecuen, executive director of Take Our Daughters and Sons Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes the day and the work and life skills it offers, said many companies are postponing or canceling this year.

“This year you just have to sort of figure out another way to do it and get as much out of it as possible,” she said.

Another option McKecuen emphasized, especially because so many people are out of work, is giving parents the opportunity to post videos showing parents chatting with kids about the tasks that go into finding a job, such as filling out an application or conducting an interview and tagging the post with the hashtag #workplacesuperstars.