Nurture rooms are becoming less of an afterthought and more of an amenity space in some of our latest workplace designs. The workspaces of 10 years ago rarely accounted for a quiet, secure and well equipped space within the workspace to accommodate for a nursing mother. Most of the “mother’s rooms” we encounter are empty offices that have been converted in some capacity. They aren’t the most hospitable or nurturing environment.
Let’s face it, talking about spaces for nursing mothers may not be the most comfortable topic to broach for some clients. I’ve sat in C-suite programming meetings where these were referred to as “pumping rooms,” “milking rooms” — anything you can think of.
We recently had a client that realized a majority of their workforce were of a demographic and age where a modern nurture room would be an attractive amenity. This corporate office client asked us to create a spa-like experience for their entire staff. We designed multiple rooms in discrete but easily accessible spaces with fully controllable levels of lighting, tile walls, comfortable upholstered benches, easily cleanable and ergonomic recliners, side tables where you could place a laptop, sinks with mirrors, refrigerators, lockable cabinets for equipment and most importantly, acoustically private walls. These nurture rooms feel less like an institutional space and more like a luxurious tranquil retreat. The nurture rooms of the future also have integral scheduling technology so that someone on a schedule could be reassured that the room will be available for them when needed.
The beauty of a space like this (and the reason for the more universal naming) is that these private spaces can be utilized for a multitude of reasons. We have clients utilize these spaces for certain cultural and religious private prayer; also clients have used these if an employee might have a migraine or need to take a mental time out. We’ve even had clients that have called these the “nap rooms” with the awareness that sometimes their staff might need a power nap in the day for that extra mental boost.
The state of nurture rooms is getting better, but many a nursing mom has spent hours sitting in poorly enclosed, not acoustically private, abandoned office or supply closet with curtains over the glass and sometimes a lock on the door (Check out this Elle article). The direction of the modern workspaces is to accommodate as many amenities as you might have in a high end hotel or even at home. These amenities make what could be a long day feel a little more comfortable. We work long hours, that’s just the truth. If an employer can provide for a space that employees can “unplug” for a bit, who wouldn’t want that?