A changing company doesn’t always always mean new people and growing diversity. I and many of my co-workers are new parents (or soon will be), which poses its own unique challenges to the office.
For #PWReBoston, we looked at how our current amenities support our growing staff of new parents, in particular new mothers. We have a wellness room that has functioned as occasional mothers’ room in the past, but we knew we could do better by creating a dedicated space for mothers. What would it take to have a functioning mothers’ room as we support our new moms coming back to work?
We reached out to past, present and future users of the mothers’ room and asked for their take on what worked and what could be improved. We soon realized that it is not just the parts and pieces that makes a mothers’ room function, it also requires a policy change. Converting a wellness room to a mothers’ room takes both policy update and physical updates. The latter one is easier: We took out the lounge chair to make room for more appropriate furniture and added a worksurface, desk chair, table top power strip, adequate lighting, microwave and fridge. There you have it -- a functioning mothers’ room! It is not the prettiest, but it works well!
Policy change is next. While we are in transition until the office re/fresh is completed, we are 'short' on a wellness room and space for private calls. (The latter is an unofficial use of the wellness room. Let's embrace it -- we need to make private calls too.) So we worked with our vendors and now have a phone booth for those calls. We are keeping an existing cushioned bench in the mothers' room to function as wellness area when the room is unoccupied, until the new wellness room is available.
At the end, a simple change in furniture, a modified policy change and cooperation from the whole office resulted in a successful mothers’ room.
On a personal note: I had a mini-apprehension as I was preparing to come back to work after my maternity leave. How can I continue nourishing my daughter while I am away at work? Having the office support and provide the amenities for pumping takes a load off my shoulders as I juggle this new work-life balance. Meetings run late, tasks takes longer to finish, but your body is on a schedule to meet your baby’s need. A dedicated, functioning mothers’ room has been a huge help as I transition back to working, now as a mom.