The times when workers expected just four walls and an elevator at the office are long behind us. As businesses struggle to lure employees back to the workplace and employees increasingly benchmark office environments against the comfort of their living rooms, a robust suite of building amenities is no longer an “added bonus” for renters, but rather a necessity, with on-site lactation rooms high on the list of ‘must haves.’
What is a Lactation Room?
A lactation room, or nursing room, is a dedicated space in a workplace where breastfeeding employees can comfortably, conveniently, and privately express breast milk while at work. The rooms themselves can range from basic to lavish but they all serve the same purpose: providing nursing women with clean, respectful places to pump their breastmilk during the workday.
Why Are They a High Priority?
In the old days, if women had the audacity to pump at work they were expected to do so invisibly, in bathrooms or closets. But those days, too, are gone.
In the past year alone, two huge pieces of legislation have expanded the rights of mothers in the workforce. Both The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) and The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP”) created new workplace protections for moms and new obligations for companies. Employers are now legally required to provide nursing mothers with break time and a private, non-bathroom space to express their breastmilk. Employers can be held accountable for not making these benefits available, which means that lactation rooms are now a high legal priority for companies.
The Current Employment Market:
At the same time, employers today are increasingly competing for talent, and – even more so – for female talent.
A pandemic-induced she-cession, and research indicating that companies with women in at least 30% of management roles are 15% more profitable, have made employers desperate to woo women back to the office.
Bringing women back to work and keeping them there requires prioritization of their needs. Companies with lactation support programs see an average 94% retention rate of moms, compared to the national average of 59%. With over 2.5 million births per year to women in the workforce, a full-service lactation suite can set employers apart when trying to wield to attract and retain women.
The Current Real Estate Market:
As people continue to work from home and landlords struggle to occupy their buildings, amenities are playing an increasingly crucial role in attracting tenants to commercial spaces. Renters are downsizing their private office footprints to accommodate new work patterns and instead are seeking out buildings that offer a little bit of everything while leveraging the space needs and the costs of that everything among multiple tenants. Building-wide lactation rooms provide both a high-value benefit to tenants and a new low-effort revenue stream for landlords, which makes them an especially valuable commodity.
Why are “Full-Service” Lactation Rooms the Hot Ticket?
A landlord could just put a table and a chair into an empty room and call it a Lactation Room but the owners and managers who reap the most value from this building amenity are the ones who develop their rooms using a full-service, third-party, solution like the kind offered by MilkMate.
MilkMate is an all-in-one, turn-key breast pumping solution, designed specifically for the workplace wellness room. MilkMate’s products include purpose-built modular furniture, a built-in high-performance breast pump, and pre-sterilized, pre-assembled, recyclable parts for users. And, taking a ‘soup to nuts’ approach, MilkMate not only custom-designs lactation rooms to maximize the value of whatever space a landlord can designate to this amenity, they then handle everything from choosing and installing the furnishings and pump to maintaining the equipment and re-ordering and re-stocking supplies.
Minimizing hassle and maximizing benefit for landlords, tenants, and employees alike, full-service solutions like MilkMate quickly pay for themselves. And, for buildings pursuing Well or Fitwel credits, a fully-outfitted MilkMate lactation room can provide a quick four or 4.75 credits, respectively, and can also factor into Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) initiatives. The ability of full-service providers like MilkMate to turn what would have been a basic room with management needs into a low-threshold, high-value asset that requires little oversight by management, makes full-service solutions today’s preferred route for most owners and developers.
Amenities Determine Leasing Success
The fact is, for landlords trying to climb back to full occupancy, lactation rooms are already a critical amenity, and full-service third-party providers like MilkMate should be the preferred solution. Lactation rooms are already expanding into arenas, airports, and schools, becoming as essential as public restrooms. Owners and developers who don’t start putting them in their buildings – and creating them the right way — may soon find themselves out in the cold.