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Is BubDesk the way of the future?

Welcome to 2016, where we now have crèches in co-working spaces.

This frontier has been crossed in Western Australia by BubDesk, which targets corporate employees with flexible working arrangements.

The Northbridge-based facility caters for tots of all ages, from newborns of 6 weeks to preschool-prepped toddlers. They are cared for upstairs whilst their parents hot-desk below.

Although BubDesk’s focus is on flexi-workers from corporations, the majority of its clients are mumpreneurs. Co-founder Asha Stabback said she created the company in response to Perth’s “critical shortage” of affordable childcare options.

“It’s cheaper than regular childcare because it’s not a registered childcare centre, so there’s no rebate”, she explained.

She suggested the city’s vast distances and dependency on cars have also contributed to parents’ woes – the childcare run takes up precious time.

Aside from the crèche’s cost and efficiency benefits, Stabback offered that knowing their little ones are just a staircase away “gives parents peace of mind”. For neonates, the opportunity for breastfeeding is another palpable plus.

But is this convenience too good to be true?

Somewhat, implied Leanne Gibbs, chief executive of Community Child Care Co-operative. She told the Sydney Morning Herald that crèches are bound only by “voluntary guidelines, whereas a childcare centre will be operating by national regulations”. This means the quality of care, including education and staff-to-child ratios, may not be optimum.

Stabback conceded her crèche is “not as heavily regulated” as a childcare centre, yet she maintained it is of the same educational standard. “All of our staff are qualified childcare workers,” Stabback assured. “It can’t be a childcare centre because there’s no outdoor space.”

She was also eager to emphasise that children weren’t the centrepiece of her operation. “The key thing is that it’s a co-working space.”

Childcare centre or not, in Stabback’s estimation, the public response to BubDesk has been “extremely positive”. The fact that large corporations are responsive to the idea, gives promise. She revealed BubDesk is “in talks” with a multinational to accommodate workers with babies on a casual basis, and plans to open up a second site closer to the CBD soon.

Also, while the demand for more flexible work practices, borne out by the success of companies like BubDesk, is frequently seen as female-driven, Stabback offered a contrasting perspective.  In her experience, “men are really driving it in corporations”. Outside of them, too, men are noticeably present – there are “a couple of men” hiring BubDesks. And while the co-working space does have non-binary furnishings, it’s ‘one stop shop’ nature is probably the bigger draw card for today’s busy parents – of any gender.

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