When Privacy Pods Become Lactation Stations
There are advantages to the open office concept beyond being cost-effective. Teams tend to be more collaborative, and employee interactions increase the flow of information. But this openness may also hinder concentration and reduce productivity. More than half of workers in an open concept cite issues such as regaining focus after a distraction, making them less productive.
There is a balance required between high levels of interaction and a need for privacy, quiet time and a bit of autonomy. This need has given rise to the popularity of office pods and booths for everything from acoustic phone booths to private meeting rooms.
Lactation Rooms Now Required at Work
No one understands or appreciates this need for privacy more than the new mom returning to the workplace. They know the health benefits of breastfeeding for their new baby, yet most feel compelled to return to work within twelve weeks of giving birth. In fact, nearly a quarter of all new Moms are back to work within two weeks.
There is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), titled “Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision.” This provision dictates that companies with 50 or more employees must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” As a result, some of today’s biggest and best companies (think Nordstrom, General Mills, IBM, and Ford Motor Company) are beginning to design and implement plans to add lactation lounges throughout the office.
Designing Your Office Nursing Room
When discussing the essential features of a lactation room with new Mom’s at these and other major corporations, women stress the following:
- Make the nursing room easily accessible
- Avoid making the lactation room design too clinical or corporate
- The office mother’s room should be comfortable and cozy, calm and soothing
- Privacy is paramount – a dedicated lactation lounge area, with locking doors, and perhaps even badge access
- A lactation space should include a mini-refrigerator to store milk, and lockers – for breast pumps and other personal belongings
- The lactation room design should feature floor lamps or dimming light fixtures
- The nursing room at work should include a bulletin board, corkboard, or whiteboard – for sharing pictures or inspirational thoughts
- Electrical outlets and charging stations are welcome additions to the office nursing pod
- An office mother’s room should include a mirror – to prevent any potential fashion faux pas
- And finally, the nursing room should be near a sink for cleaning up breast pump attachments
Companies that invest in these type support services, welcoming moms back to the workplace while allowing them to fulfill their new roles, experience a higher ROI through savings on employee health care, productivity and retention.
Why Privacy Booths Make Great Nursing Pods
There are a number of advantages of a privacy pod over a drywall room for a lactation room at work:
- Lower cost
- Assembled in 3-4 hours by a single trade
- No structural alterations or impact on the building
- No permitting or inspections
- Can be disassembled and moved
- Integrated light, air circulation, and power
- Privacy pods are assets that can be taken with the company in the event of an office move