how do office relaxation/recharge rooms work?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’ve convinced my boss to dedicate a spare office to a recharge/relaxation room, to give employees a place to unwind, get away from their cube mates, meditate, make a private phone call, stretch, etc. It would also serve as a private location for nursing moms to pump (we don’t have any nursing moms currently, just planning for future employees’ comfort). I’m doing some research now on the best way to set it up, but I’m getting confused.

I’ve seen these wellness rooms mentioned on your site in various situations, but I’m starting from scratch so I’m asking – for those who have these at your work, what are the best amenities to have? What never gets used? Is scheduling time difficult? (Obviously nursing moms would get first priority for scheduling.) Do employees abuse it much and “disappear” for hours? If so, how to control it? Or do the rooms never get used and it’s a waste of money and effort?

We do have funds to use for wellness and employee safety (we’re government, as you can see) but I want to use it in the most effective way. I’d appreciate any input.

I thought this was an interesting change of pace. Have at it in the comments section.

{ 371 comments… read them below }

  1. mli25*

    something soundproof with no glass would be useful for privacy. No one should be able to hear a breast pump from 2 feet away or hearing me calling my doctor for an appointment.

    1. Sarah*

      If the room isn’t automatically soundproof, putting in some sound-absorbing panels can go a long way!

    2. Artemesia*

      So important. Obviously when you do have a nursing mother, the room needs to be private/lockable for her use. And the whole issue of more than one person wanting to use it at a time has to be considered anyway.

      I remember when I was a teacher — and this was before cell phones — there was no place we could make a private phone call e.g. to the gynecologist, or to book an appointment with a lawyer or whatever. It was awful never having any privacy.

      1. Bongofury*

        I remember that situation. “Why are you setting up this appointment?” well….let me just explain what a pap smear is to my coworker sitting 2 feet away.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Maybe one of those door handles that have “Vacant/Occupied” in them, like in doctor’s offices and the like.

          1. 2 Cents*

            Except if you work with unobservant people who wouldn’t notice the sign and would walk in on you during a pumping session because your bosses refused to “ruin the design” of the doors by adding locks (they were barn doors). Ask me how I know!

            1. Gan Ainm*

              I think they were suggesting the type of round door lock, which when locked rotates to display a little red placard that says occupied, and when unlocked a little green placard that says unoccupied. The sign is mostly so folks don’t attempt to open/ knock on the door when occupied, which would disturb the folks who are inside napping or meditating or nursing. I agree a simple sign without actual locking mechanism would definitely not work.

              1. allathian*

                Yes. My office has resting rooms like this, but they have both a very prominent sign at about eye level, and the same kind of turnable locks that we have on our single-stall bathrooms. These rooms don’t have windows, and my claustrophobia is bad enough that I could never relax in there. I’ve only used one of them once, and that’s when I suddenly got a very painful bout of migraine and had to get away from fluorescent lights and screens for a while until I felt well enough to go home (public transit so at least I didn’t have to drive with migraine).

                I’m in Finland, and pumping rooms don’t exist here. We have 9 months maternity leave for the birthing parent and the option for either parent to take parental leave until the child’s 3rd birthday. My son was 2 years and 3 months old when I returned to work. Very few birth parents breastfeed for longer than 6 months, and I suspect that the Venn diagrams for parents who breastfeed up to a year or longer and for those who return to work as soon as they can pretty much never overlap.

                1. GermanGirl*

                  Just because it’s possible to stay home for 9 month doesn’t mean every mom wants to stay home for 9 month. In Germany you can stay home even longer and it’s very common for the birthing parent to stay home and nurse for a year, so it’s not common to have a designated room for pumping here either. But there are those of us who would go absolutely nuts as a stay at home parent and would like to pump at the office, and the law makes it so the employer has to provide a suitable room upon request – I bet it’s the same in Finland.

                2. TLC*

                  I breastfed each of my kids for two years and both times I returned to work in under three months (US, of course). It’s not as rare as you might think. That being said, the reason I was able to do that is because I had an understanding employer, a flexible schedule that I could work around pumping, and a private (if not necessarily luxurious) room that I could pump in. With a lock!

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          Our mothers room has that and it helped a lot. Originally there was a lock and only nursing’s mothers had a key… but then we had two nursing mothers at once and they couldn’t figure their schedule out so they kept walking in on each other so we changed the lock situation to a lock from inside with a vacant/occupied indicator.

          I’ve never had to use the pumping room, but feedback from our mothers is that they love that ours has a sink for washing their pump parts right in there. There’s also a microwave and mini fridge for the milk, but that probably only works in very small places and when the pumping room is only used for that and not shared for other purposes. They also said that an electrical outlet is needed for pump, and at least a small table and relatively comfy chair is desirable. I’d recommend a wipable chair though for sanitary reasons not cloth.

          I don’t know about wellness rooms though… our designated primal screaming area is a giant storage shed out back. Our semi private phone area is our entryway… there are two chairs there for no reason. For super private calls people go out to parking lot and pace.

          We have a “gym” but basically no one uses it… I don’t like it in there cuz there’s a big mirror. We are contemplating changing it to a visitor desk/conference room space and maybe keeping the treadmill and adding a laptop dock to it for conference calls.

      3. MusicWithRocksIn*

        And if you do have a nursing mother you have to make sure other people aren’t using it so often it upsets her pumping schedule much. If the room is used often enough it won’t make for a good pumping room – or people will have to know to clear out at certain times. It is super disruptive to know you need to take a half hour to pump, and soon, but you don’t know when the room will be free so are just working for a few minutes then running to check again and again.

        1. BabyElephantWalk*

          Yeah, nursing moms need a dedicated space, privacy and a locking door. Combined use rooms like this often sound great to the people arranging them but not so friendly to the moms who have a pumping schedule they need to keep.

          Which isn’t to say you can’t do combined use, but if this space will later be used by workers who need to pump be aware that you might have to set up some rules around accessing it.

        2. Lizzo*

          Re: whether the room is available, it would be great to have something posted on both the outside and the inside of the room, e.g. a QR code or a link, that goes to an online version of the calendar where it shows **in real time** when the room is booked/available, and also a link for booking. Make it easy for people to make use of it AND to follow whatever scheduling protocols are necessary to ensure peaceful use of the space.

          1. Aitch Arr*


            I was going to suggest making the nursing/resting room a bookable conference room through whatever online scheduler the company has.

          2. Hazel*

            At my last company, we had rooms for nursing people who needed to pump. When I started, you could use the rooms for napping or whatever, if you needed to. This was really helpful to me because I was unintentionally taking allergy medicine that interacted with my anti-depression medication to make me tired ALL. THE. TIME. I was able to nap for about 30 minutes each afternoon, and that made it possible for me to finish out my day.

            There was a calendar in Outlook for each of these rooms, and the schedule was printed out each morning and posted on the outside of the door. People who needed the room to pump took precedence, and most of the time slots for pumping were recurring appointments at the same time every day, but they didn’t have to be. The doors locked, and there was a “Vacant/In Use” type of sign connected to the lock. I usually checked the printed schedule and the online Outlook schedule to be certain I wasn’t taking someone’s scheduled time and then went in and napped.

            The room I liked best had a comfy armchair with a shawl/blanket draped over the back, and there was an ottoman and a small table with a lamp and tissues, with hand towels folded on a shelf below the table. There was also a mirror so you could make sure you looked businesslike before leaving the room to go back to work.

            At some point, they added a new room on the floor below mine, but I didn’t like that one as much because it had a massage chair in it, and that wasn’t very comfortable for napping. This other room was not originally set up for pumping/napping, so it had upper and lower cabinets along one wall like you would find in a supply closet, and there was no mirror. I think there was a box of tissues, though. It wasn’t terrible, and I used it in a pinch, but the rooms with the nice chairs and ottomans were much better, and I would recommend that sort of setup.

            1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

              Being able to nap in the wellness room when I had to come in extra early on east coast client teleconference days was probably lifesaving. I have a delayed sleep phase that was not medicated at that time, so I was perpetually underslept, and worse on early days. Napping meant I was able to stay all day and not have to leave early for driving safety.

              The room was card locked to prevent casual interruptions, and had translucent film over the windows so you could see if there was a light on, or at most some colored blurs. Any employee could badge in. There was a place for prayer rug storage with a note that these were not blankets, and a couch long enough to nap on.

              There was one time when someone there to pray walked in on me napping, but we resolved it by them being quiet and me keeping still with my eyes closed when I registered someone in there for their privacy. (I had my sweater over my face; it’s possible that they didn’t recognize me either.)

              The room one building over with the fake grass and Adirondack chairs was very instagrammable (it was painted like the inside of Windows 95, and one year I printed out a Windows 95 error message to put on the whiteboard for April Fool’s day) but since they had removed comfortable chairs to make it look cool, the change wasn’t super well received.

              They had separate nursing/pumping rooms, which were called “Mothers’ Room” in Outlook, and some people coming in from offsite did not realize the purpose when searching for conference rooms, they just thought it was a quirky name. I don’t recall if this problem was resolved in my time there.

      4. le teacher*

        Ugh, yes! I am a history teacher and it is so hard to just find a quiet place to schedule appointments. The English department has been letting me use their supply closet, lol!

      5. Like Raccoons*

        Mini fridge for milk storage for nursing moms. Sink. Easily accessible outlets (lots of breast pumps dont have endlessly long cords). Comfortable seating (couch? Big chair + pillows?). Locking door, no window or at least privacy glass, consideration for sounds traveling through walls or white noise machine. Counter or table to unpack and organize your supplies for pumping, or to take notes on during a phone call? Nice art on the wall?

      6. Texas Teacher*

        I was teaching 5 th grade and we were having a benchmark test so my room was silent. A teacher in the 4th grade pod, was having a phone call with her ob/gyn – and my class heard the whole thing. Her kids were at specials she was standing in a far back corner away from the “doorway” that didn’t have a door. (School was open concept then remodeled.) I had to get my neighbor to watch my class and run over to her room. The noise was going through the ac vents. We didn’t share a wall there were actually 2 classrooms in between us that didn’t hear anything.

        That was the 2nd most embarrassing “Something unusual happened in your child’s class today” letter I had to send home.

  2. SpringHasSprung*

    I love that you’re thinking about this! One question – would it be possible to have a separate, dedicated space for the nursing room? One with a sink for washing equipment, lock on the door, comfortable seating? I think it might be challenging scheduling-wise for everyone to use the same space.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Yes, this. Combining all the uses into one room isn’t going to go well, when you wind up needing to give one group a priority for scheduling (as the LW mentions).

      Depending on LW’s location, it may be a legal requirement. First thing that fell out of Google is that if you’re subject to FLSA, you probably need to provide this space.

      1. OP*

        OP here. I really appreciate all the input! I’m taking notes from everyone’s comments and you have all been fantastic with your contributions.

        Right now we have two vacant offices side-by-side; one is 9’x12′ and the other is 8’x12′.
        After reviewing all your comments, my master plan is to make one a wellness room and the other the nursing room; however, I don’t have enough money in this year’s budget to redo both offices (this is the first time in 20 years we’ve had vacant space in the building, we’ve been crowded in). We went from 75 people to about 50 people in the building.

        Right now I’m creating a wellness room that will also be be available for pumping; and then with next year’s budget funds, I want to get approval take over the second office and re-do it so we have a dedicated pumping room in addition to the wellness room. So for about a year, we have to combine them.

        We’re a small office, and frankly we currently have an older workforce that mostly has high school/college age kids, or grandkids. But I anticipate that as many of those workers retire in the next decade, the next wave of employees will be younger and a pumping room will be more useful.

        Thank you so much to all the commentariat for your fantastic ideas! I appreciate you all. And thank you to Alison for publishing my question! I will send you photos of the finished room(s) for a later update.

    2. FormerlyPumpingMom*

      Came here to say this same thing… this sounds like a great idea, but unless you separate them, you’re going to run into problems when the first nursing/pumping employee(s) start scheduling over everyone else’s relaxation time. I can imagine the AAM letters now, lol. “Our great recharge room is suddenly being taken over by pumping moms 3 times a day!”

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Came here too, as a veteran of battling for crappy pumping rooms. Pump room should be separate from any other wellness and with a clear calendar for the people who need it to book it.

        1. KateM*

          I haven’t pumped but would it be doable to have several mother pumping at the same time? I know I didn’t mind breastfeeding with other moms in similar situation around, but it may be different with pumping.

          1. AEA*

            I personally would not want to pump at the same time as another coworker. I both pumped and breastfed. I was lucky to not have to pump in the office since we had moved to WFH at that point, but I felt a lot more exposed and just generally uncomfortable pumping vs. nursing and I would not want to have to share a space while doing so.

            1. MusicWithRocksIn*

              I was lucky enough that my baby’s daycare was a quick drive from work, so I ran over and breastfed during lunch and only had to pump two other times a day. At the daycare I was 100% fine breastfeeding right in the baby room and chatting with the women that work there, the babies head blocks most everything and switching sides didn’t bother me at all. At the same time, I wasn’t even willing to pump in front of my closest friends – you are way more vulnerable and your bits are being sucked up and down a clear plastic tube and even having my husband watch it happen was uncomfortable for me. No way would I ever pump in front of a coworker.

          2. Frank and Beans*

            Currently pumping from my closed and locked office while I read these. I am not shy about breastfeeding in public, especially as it’s easy to cover up. Pumping on the other hand- my body is all the way out into the world lol.

          3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            I was able to pump with a nursing bra and nursing shirt without showing anything but the tubing. I still wouldn’t want to do it at the same time as someone else. Pump breaks are every few hours for 30 minutes so it’s usually easy to have a few people work out a schedule.

          4. nonprofit writer*

            Breastfeeding is much more discreet than pumping. With pumping, you often have to take your top mostly or completely off, unzip your dress, or unbutton your shirt. Not to mention the whole set up is just… not discreet.

            The only time I ever pumped in a room with someone else was with one of my oldest friends (we have known each other since we were in 6th grade) at a mutual friend’s wedding. And even then we didn’t really face each other. I think if we had been talking face to face while trying to pump we would have been laughing so hard we wouldn’t have been able to do it.

            So no, unless you are super open and comfortable with your co-workers in a way that most people are not, it’s not really feasible!

          5. GoldenHandcuffs*

            As someone who pumped for both kids, it absolutely depends on the people involved. I did share a pump room and space with another mom while pumping for my second kid and honestly, it was awesome. It was a great way to bond and become friends and we felt safe around each other (and we’re still good friends because of it). BUT! I think we were very much the exception to the rule. I would guess most pumping people would prefer privacy during that time and they should absolutely not be expected to share if they aren’t comfortable doing so.

          6. SweetTooth*

            I was ok with nursing around people, although I was one who preferred to use a cover around most people. Pumping is so different – it wasn’t the same sort of natural connection, it felt so mechanical. Plus I tended to be way more exposed. Especially with business casual clothing, I was usually whipping off a sweater or fully unbuttoning a shirt and draping a shawl over my shoulders so I didn’t get too cold. I also had some weird emotional reactions sometimes when pumping that I wouldn’t have wanted to share with anyone else. Plus, minor in the scheme of things, but I would watch tv on my phone to help me relax while pumping, so I would have to remember to bring headphones on top of everything else.

            Outside of that, I also think the legal requirement is for a completely private lockable space.

          7. Massive Dynamic*

            No, pumping is totally different than nursing, which I also was fine doing with others. But pumping is better thought of as a private medical need.

          8. HannahS*

            No. Employers are obligated to provide a private space for pumping, so even if the first two employees were totally fine with it, the third one who isn’t would need to be accommodated. Recall, it’s at work–you’d be sitting being milked with possibly your boss, the head of HR, your intern who you’ve had to talk about boundaries with, all kinds of people. It’s not feasible.

          9. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            The only place for me to pump was in my coworker’s office (she had a door, I had a cubicle) during her lunch break… I pumped for my baby for a year bc he wouldn’t latch so that was roughly 10 months of sharing her space. I got over feeling self-conscious real quick (I think it helped that baby GreyWarden wouldn’t BF so I had no options and therefore I had to pump wherever and whenever if he was going to eat.) It helped that coworker and I were extremely close friends.

            So yeah, I would have pumped around other pumping moms, but I totally expect that most other moms might not feel the same, especially if they weren’t on the pump 5x a day for a year like I was.

          10. A W*

            Our pumping room was small but it had a sink and two curtained cubicles which each had a wipeable armchair, a small table, and a power outlet. The cubicles were set up so the two people would have their backs to each other (which was somehow nice even though you couldn’t actually see the other person). It wasn’t *ideal* to share it, but it was better than not having access to a room. And actually I did make friends with one fellow mom who was on a similar schedule – we didn’t mind chatting through the curtains.

          11. Molly*

            Our pumping room had 4 cubicles (so privacy), each with a desk, chair, and outlet. Then there was a sink and fridge along the wall with enough counter space for us to each have our own drying rack so we could wash and dry our bottles overnight, and leave our milk in the fridge separate from everyone’s lunches. It worked great to have all the needed amenities and privacy (plus I got to know the other women as we chatted over our cubicle walls)

        2. LittleMarshmallow*

          We used ours as a prayer room for a Muslim (I think she was Muslim… I’m so sorry if that’s wrong) employee. We had a nursing mother at the time too but they worked it out and it was fine. I think a lot depends on the size of your location. We are tiny… like 10 people and only 3 ladies (and curently only one pumping) so we don’t have a lot of drama around the room and it can be used deliberately for other specific purposes if needed (although we still don’t just use it willy nilly – only for things where some kind of accommodation is needed, and everyone respects that). At a big place… like the manufacturing facility I used to work at, they really need to just be dedicated spaces. You can’t have 500 employees having access to your 2 pumping rooms for whatever they feel like doing in there. That just would be a logistical nightmare for women that need to pump. Plus at a place that big you’re more likely to have more than 1-2 pumping mothers at a time that already will have to try to coordinate.

      2. LunaLena*

        Ha, this reminds me of a post I saw on Reddit AITA a while ago – an employee was given a small break room for pumping, and she got priority over other employees using it. One disgruntled co-worker retaliated by going out of his way to use her cleaning supplies for her pumping equipment to clean the sink (he especially made sure to do this while she was watching), moving her stuff from the shelves, and even straight up throwing her stuff out, claiming that, since it was in a communal area, it was communal property and therefore he could use it as he saw fit. His blatant jerkishness had her questioning if she was the AH for leaving stuff in the communal break room.

        Pretty sure the comments are unanimously “NTA go to HR go to HR NOW”

          1. LunaLena*

            Oh that’s horrible! I just read the update and it sounds like HR was horrified but her boss was buddies with the other co-worker and tried to intimidate her on Crappy Co-worker’s behalf. She did quit but it was her decision to leave rather than put up with such awful colleagues.

    3. BeReal*

      A pump room should have a sink and counter, a fridge, and a cabinet where people can leave their pump and peripherals. A comfortable chair and small table for your pump would also be good. I always had to move a chair to be near the counter-height counter… it would have been so nice to have a table-height surface right next to a chair and an outlet.
      The room MUST have a lock and no windows or windows with real privacy shades.

      1. OP*

        I’m the OP. Alison, thanks so much for posting my question, and thanks to everyone for your input! I’m looking forward to reading all your comments.

        The office I have is about 9′ x 12′, it is a windowless, separate office, solid door, lockable from the inside. I didn’t think about a sink for washing; I will ask maintenance if they could install one.

        1. Irish girl*

          The biggest challenge with doing this is a dual room will be scheduling. The person pumping will need to have it be scheduled specific times everyay which doesnt always allow for others to use as nesscary. My office has dedicated pumping rooms for only that. We also have other rooms that are not able to be reserved for all your other reasons like private calls and meetings when you dont have a office with doors ie cube farm.

          1. somanyquestions*

            I agree with this; I think a pumping room should be just for pumping. If there is another use people will try to negotiate and preempt the scheduled pumping person.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That room is not much smaller than my building’s first aid room. Within it, there are two lockable spaces just big enough for a small cot, a chair, and an end table. There was a plug. This was perfect except for one thing: the light switch was in the outer room.
          My office’s first aid team also makes this available to people with migraines, asthma attacks, etc.
          I think it would also work for observant employees to use for daily prayers.

        3. GoldenHandcuffs*

          Please also consider a way for the pumping people to be able to store their milk in a secure way. If you have a mini-fridge for it, having a way to lock it would be ideal so that others can’t use it. Some people (both pumping people and others around them) will get very worried about the idea of breast milk being in a communal space. To be clear, pumping person “should” be able to store their milk wherever is best for them but others will have “feelings!” about it being next to their coffee creamer. Just something to consider.

          1. Mama llama*

            Hard disagree to the folks saying that pumping has to be in a room that no one else ever uses – as long as you are able to book time on the calendar, and there is a mini fridge in there, and your colleagues are not literal psychopaths who are going to steal your breastmilk, that is a great setup.

            I always just put my flanges in the fridge between sessions instead of washing them… which seems to conform to guidelines…

            only other requests I would make as a pumping mom are a small speaker to play calming music (nice for meditating/white noise for phone calls as well) and thermostat control. I always had to bring in a shawl because you don’t wear your shirt while you pump (unless you can unbutton the shirt completely).

            1. JustaTech*

              At my work the pumping room is also the phlebotomy (blood drawing) room which is … not great on a sanitation front, even if it makes sense space-wise, since the rooms have similar requirements (locking door, sink, theoretically comfy chair/bed).

              So it mostly depends on *what* the other use of the room is.

              1. Calliope*

                I’m not sure why that would be a sanitation issue. Surely whoever is doing the phlebotomy is well-versed in proper procedures?

                1. HannahS*

                  Frankly, working in healthcare, I know that people are imperfect. I would not feel comfortable with my baby’s food being stored next to biohazards. What if someone doesn’t sanitize their hands correctly? Or a sample spills? It happens. I’d rather store my milk with other peoples’ food.

            2. somanyquestions*

              Have you ever seen the chaos that ends up surrounding those non-pumping relaxation rooms? I have worked in 2 large government agencies that had those & they were insane. I tried to use them once and gave up as going and chilling in my car, as that was far more relaxing than dealing with the scheduling & competition. If they say people can just use the pumping room whenever someone isn’t pumping, there will be inevitable ongoing conflicts. And no one NEEDS a relaxation/privacy room, but they do need to be able to pump.

              1. Koalafied*

                Conflict doesn’t have to be inevitable. My office has had a wellness/pumping room for several years – one each on our two floors which house about 150 employees. They’re bookable online, hard copy of the schedule is printed every morning and posted outside the rooms, which require getting a key from the office managers’ desk at the start of your booking and returning it to them when your time is up. Most of the time both of them are empty and the primary users of them are pumping moms with recurring bookings. Occasionally someone with a killer headache will use one while they wait for the medicine they took to kick in.

                I think most people who aren’t feeling well enough to work just go home rather than book the wellness room so there’s just not much demand for them.

                1. LittleMarshmallow*

                  I do think having it as a reservable space should work well to have it be a shared room as long as your office has a good culture around respecting room schedules (I’ve seen both ways so I wouldn’t assume every place could make it work).

                2. Koalafied*

                  Yes, and the office managers are also really key to how well it works. It’s impossible for someone to just walk in without properly booking it because they won’t have a key, and leadership granted the office managers the authority to enforce the system if anyone overstayed their reservation or didn’t return a key promptly. With 150 people they couldn’t realistically expect that relying on everyone policing themselves would work out perfectly – so they designated and appropriately empowered an officer to do the policing instead.

            3. LittleMarshmallow*

              I still think this depends a lot of the size of your place. I assume pumping mothers would like a relatively clean space to pump. We had a short lived issue by us where someone was taking breaks in there and leaving all kinds of food remnants (like apple cores and chip bags and stuff) so the room wasn’t super presentable when needed for pumping. That issue was swiftly dealt with and people were reminded that the room was only used for pumping and otherwise other uses required management approval. I know that in a world where all humans are reasonable people that clean up after themselves and respect that pumping mothers should have priority use of a pumping room it shouldn’t be an issue… but I’ve never worked somewhere where all the people were reasonable and respectful so rules had to be established for pumping rooms being for pumping only.

        4. just a thought*

          The sink is a “really nice to have” rather than a “must have”–and if you do have a sink, you also will need a dishrack or similar surface to store the drying parts. Washing pump parts is a total pain, so a lot of women will stick them in the refrigerator between pumps during the workday to keep them hygienic, then bring them home at the end of the day to wash and sanitize.

          That said, refrigerating pump parts makes them feel cold, most offices are already too cold for most women, and now you have a woman in a cold office touching cold things and having to remove part of her clothing. If there is no separate thermostat in the room already, a space heater would be a huge relief.

          1. LittleMarshmallow*

            Ours has a space heater since we couldn’t do a separate thermostat. I know space heaters are frowned upon in many places for fire hazards so think carefully about that before adding one. :)

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            SUCH a pain, and I had to sanitize mine every time because I also donated to the mother’s milk bank for my local hospital.

        5. Hazel*

          That makes a lot of sense! The “pumping room” I used for napping (working around the pumping people’s schedules) worked well for napping, but it didn’t have a sink, and I don’t think I remember a mini fridge either.

          I was unintentionally taking allergy medicine that interacted with my anti-depression medication to make me tired ALL. THE. TIME. I was grateful to be able to nap for about 30 minutes each afternoon so I could finish out my day.

          Even though there weren’t sinks, they did get quite a few things right:
          – There was an Outlook calendar for each room with the schedule was printed out each morning and posted on the outside of the door.
          – People who needed the room to pump took precedence, and most of the time slots for pumping were recurring appointments at the same time every day, but they didn’t have to be.
          – The doors locked, and there was a “Vacant/In Use” type of sign connected to the lock.
          – The rooms had comfy armchairs with a shawl/blanket draped over the back with an ottoman.
          – There was also a small table with a lamp and tissues, and hand towels were folded on a shelf below the table.
          – There was also a mirror so you could make sure you looked businesslike before leaving the room to go back to work.

    4. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      Agree. Also, if your organization is larger, you may have three or four (or twenty) Muslims needing to pray at the same time – so the space for nursing may be different. I worked for a large company that had a “meditation room” – I’d go down to destress – they had some yoga mats and I’d do some simple stretching out. But the rather large room would fill during prayer time. The room also had a comfy couch or two and a chest for the prayer rugs and a bookshelf of the “take a book/leave a book” variety.

      You are really looking for three different things and ideally would have three different spaces:

      A nursing room with a sink, a fridge, a comfy chair, a lock on the door, which is scheduled.
      A meditation room that will be large enough for Muslim scheduled prayer, but isn’t scheduled because sometimes you need to destress urgently.
      A room with a door that is small and can be used for phone calls to your doctor or your kids teacher. Unscheduled with a time limit of ten minutes or something – functionally a phone booth (maybe a little larger).

      The large company I worked for had all three as separate spaces and they all got used. The company I worked for previously had the first two, but no “phone booths” – but you could make those calls from your car if you needed to.

      1. TiredAmoeba*

        Considering there was no dedicated space before for Muslim employees to pray, this isn’t something I would insist on unless it has been specifically requested.

        1. OhNo*

          Just because it didn’t exist before, doesn’t mean it should take lower priority now! Prayer space is something my department has been fighting for for a long time, and we always get push back like this – “we’ve never had dedicated space before”, or “no one has complained”. The point is to make sure they are actively welcomed, even if the need hasn’t been articulated to the right person yet.

          If it helps, I often compare it to disability access. So often companies say, “we’ll build a ramp once we have an employee in a wheelchair”. But employees in wheelchairs won’t apply unless you have a ramp, and if they did apply they wouldn’t get hired because they couldn’t make it to the interview. Build a ramp (or a prayer space!) first, so the community in question knows they are welcome there!

          1. LittleMarshmallow*

            I agree. I think it’s good to have a plan for that so that if your workplace has an observant employee it’s not a whole thing you have to figure out on the spot. It can be used for other stuff if no one needs it but it’s worth it to have a plan.

            For us, prayers is the only other thing that is allowed by management to occur in the pumping room besides pumping at this time. And currently we don’t have anyone using it for prayers but we have in the past.

        2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          Other people pray/meditate as well. The thing with Muslims is that if you have several of them, they pray at prescribed times – so the room needs to accomodate more than one person at a time (and with a little room since prayer involves kneeling, forehead to ground) if the organization is large enough to require that. That’s a lot different than a room where you go to pump, which should only accommodate one person, because pumping with your coworkers would be really weird.

      2. bishbah*

        My company has the phone booth setup in one of our offices (as well as a separate wellness room), but the booth has a lightweight barn/sliding door with ZERO soundproofing. It’s never good when you can sit in there and clearly hear the conversations in the office just across the hallway—it means the reverse is true also. I would always leave the building and take calls outside.

        1. JustaTech*

          At one building where I worked the “phone booth” was a glass coffin: glass on all sides (one side facing down to the 4 story atrium) with no sound deadening and no place to sit (it was *that* small) or put a notepad, right next to the elevators.

          Eventually we decided that the “phone booth” sign was a joke.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        I really likes our Meditation room setup. You could schedule time, but there was a tablet at the door that showed availability. So if no one had it booked, you could “instant book” a chunk of time.

        This particular workplace had a rather large Muslim population, and their ERG booked the room during prayer time on behalf of anyone who might use it.

        Personally, I used the room to foam roll during my morning break, and ended up leaving a yoga mat & foam roller in there, which no one ever disturbed.

        I also really liked having the private-phone-call space, probably the thing it was most used for. In that case people wouldn’t actually book the time, just check the tablet to make sure it wasn’t in use.

      4. earmouse56*

        Re: Muslim prayer room

        Also important to have a sink for washing hands and feet before or after prayer.

    5. oranges*

      Yeah, pumping room and recharge space are two different things. I envisioned an open, sunny, potentially outside space for relaxation and recharge. Something with big chairs and tables for people to informally gather.
      A pumping room requires water/power infrastructure and privacy. I think you’re better off not trying to smash them together.

      1. OP*

        In an ideal world, yes, I would have separate spaces; but I only have one office available to use. I’m trying to get the best use out of what we have – one 9’x12′ office.

        1. TiredAmoeba*

          Lots of great suggestions but since you have a single designated space, I’d suggest one or two comfortable chairs, a couple nice pictures of nature scenes on the wall, maybe a fake plant and a sign up sheet on the door. no more than 30 minutes per day can be reserved by a single employee.
          Once you have the space established, then get feedback from employees on possible additions or adaptations. Since you don’t currently have an employee pumping, put that on the back burner as something you can tackle once this is up and running. Tons of great suggestions in the thread.

          1. Lightning*

            “no more than 30 minutes per day can be reserved by a single employee”

            That’s not going to work if it’s a pumping space – I usually needed 20 mins at a time, 3 times a day (my example is only an example of course, but 30 is for sure too low)

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            Yeah, I would make this “no more than 30 minutes a day for uses OTHER than pumping.” I had to pump half an hour most times, and also needed time to set up, clean up, and put milk away.

            1. Anne of Green Gables*

              And in the beginning, I was pumping way more than once a day! By the end I was down to once during the workday. A once a day limit will not work for most people who are pumping.

          3. Ghostess*

            Small privacy detail, but if the schedule is kept on paper, I’d put a blank sheet of paper on top, so nosy people (or just people casually glancing over) can’t see who has signed up.

          4. Cheezmouser*

            +100 on not limiting the use to once per day for pumping. Many people need to pump every 2-4 hours, so they will need to use the room multiple times a day, every day. I also strongly recommend a digital room booking system so they can set up recurring schedule. I would hate to manually hand write my name 60 times per month on the sign up sheet!

        2. i forget my handle*

          To make the most out of the room while still providing pumping space, I would suggest putting a modular lactation pod or mamava lactation pod in this room.

          1. fposte*

            Wow, the footprint on those is much smaller than I’d have thought; this could definitely be workable even in a small room like the OP describes.

        3. somanyquestions*

          Can I ask, if you work for the government, how do you not already have a room for pumping? What space have they given for that?

      2. Duckles*

        I disagree about the recharge room! I used mine at my old office a couple times when I would get a migraine to sneak a nap between meetings so cool, dark, and place to lie down was most important.

    6. Nesprin*

      Yep- a lactation room is not a rest/recharge room. They have different purposes, different needs, different oversight (i.e. one required by law, the other is a perk) and depending on the number of lactating people you have available, the chance that it could do double duty is slim.

      1. fposte*

        I think that could be a restriction just for those using the room for rest and relaxation, though. I don’t think it would be discriminatory for those nursing to identify themselves as such.

    7. Carrots*

      Absolutely. Ideally, a pumping room would be used SOLELY used for that purpose, and not for other employees to use. If you are a pumping mom, you will sometimes need to pump RIGHT THEN, and waiting for someone to finish meditating is not an option. You need to be able to go into the space and access your milk and supplies any time throughout the day. For example, what if your kid gets sick and you need to leave early? What if your meeting gets rescheduled and you need to pump an hour earlier than usual? Competing with non-pumping staff is too much added stress for an already stressful (but 100% worthwhile!) endeavor.

      1. fposte*

        Realistically, though, it’s clear the room isn’t going to be devoted only to pumping, and even if it were there’s no guarantee somebody else won’t be locked in there pumping already. Most offices find a way to work with this, even if it’s not the perfect plan for everybody.

        Some of this will depend on the demographics of those in the OP’s office, of course; it may be that some years there’s nobody nursing and some years there are multiple people nursing and the room really can’t be a recharge room for a while. And I think that’s okay, and that flexibility is part of what the OP should plan for.

      2. J.B.*

        I think that it is generally reasonable to expect that pumping be scheduled. Particularly if you have more than one employee pumping at a time, the employees should have a way to coordinate.

        I once pumped at a water plant. Sometimes you do what you have to do :)

      3. Michelle*

        Pumping mom here- nothing worse than NEEDING to leave; and the room where my milk is stored be in use for a mystery amount of time due to drop-ins.

        My scheduled pumping breaks are constantly being trampled on, and having non-lactation activities in the room is not helpful for the flexibility that I depend on to be able to feed my child.

        I ended up buying a folding paper screen so that I could pump in my office, in a pinch.

    8. Be kind, rewind*

      Hmmm I can see how that could become a problem, but that wasn’t an issue at my last job that had a wellness room for both nursing and meditation. There were a few pumping mothers who had recurring time slots, and there were still plenty of times open. I think what helped this was the fact that we had generous wfh policy, so people weren’t there every day.

    9. HufferWare*

      Came here to say this! A nursing room should be its own thing and not a room shared with every other employee. I worked at a place that tried to do what OP’s letter is outlining and it was a disaster and they ended up finally just labelling it a nursing room that people occasionally took personal calls in when no one needed it.

      1. OhNoYouDidn't*

        It would be wonderful to have a separate nursing room that is its “own thing,” but OP has clearly stated that it’s not possible right now. I think with professional adults, it can be worked out to work for nursing moms as well as Be Kind, Rewind stated above. I think it’s so great that the boss is offering this and that OP seriously considering options before jumping in and creating the space. I’m sure it will be appreciated by your staff, OP.

    10. Underrated Pear*

      This whole thread is stressing me out remembering my own horrible pumping experience. OP, please make sure to avoid these things if you are trying to establish a pumping room:

      The room available to me was a separate room accessed through the women’s restroom. It had no lock, which I was arguing was not in compliance with the law, but I think officially since it was only accessible through the women’s restroom, the argument was that it wasn’t accessible to the public. Either way it was BS, because the room was frequently used as a rest/relaxation room, SICK ROOM, and study room by a few undergrads who found it. So many times I came in to find people clipping their toenails (gag), lying on the couch saying they were sick (I am PREPARING FOOD for my INFANT, gtfo of here with your illness!!), or undergraduates sitting there with a spread of food and coffee, arguing that they shouldn’t have to leave because there was still an available desk for me (just to sit and try to pump, boobs out, while they used the only dedicated nursing room as a study room despite their being about 5 BILLION OTHER STUDY SPACES ON CAMPUS). I should note it was specifically labeled a nursing room and there was a sign on the door stating it was NOT to be used for any other purpose – but it was in a basement bathroom, no lock, and no one around to police it other than the few of us who had to kick people out multiple times a day.

      In addition to not having a lock, it also did not have a fridge or sink, and consisted of a couple desks pushed next to each other with a 2-foot cubicle-type wall in between for privacy, but that was the least of my concerns. This was, by the way, on a large college campus with thousands of staff and an additional tens of thousands of students and faculty. I get so angry even now thinking about it.

      Anyway I raised hell every freaking day but nothing got done. So this is all to say, please make sure pumping moms have the space and that they don’t have to waste half of their already-shortened workday fighting with anyone who will listen about needing to use the room. People SHOULD respect that, but they don’t, and it can easily become a situation where they resent the pumping employee for taking over the room ~30 minutes three times a day (which again is complete BS but it’s how people work).

      1. somanyquestions*

        This. And people will try to say those were college kids and your co-workers will be better to deal with, but if co-workers were all super rational this site wouldn’t exist.

        1. Underrated Pear*

          Oh, to be clear, the vast majority of incidents were with staff, not undergrads. This was a purely administrative building that was accessed by students infrequently (i.e., they might pop in once a semester to go to the window of the Accounts office or Registrar, that kind of thing) and the restroom/nursing room in question was on the basement level, so… yeah, the undergrads were not the ones usually pissing me off. Although they were the most clueless in terms of not getting why I was kicking them out. Which is totally understandable! But that’s why it needed a lock; a sign or even a schedule is not at all sufficient.

          Anyway, I know most of this isn’t relevant to the OP, but the point is that unless they’ve had to use a nursing room for months, most people do not understand or respect priority of nursing rooms.

    11. thisgirlhere*

      We had a multi-use room pre-pandemic and it was no problem. You booked it on a calendar and anyone pumping had top priority. If the room was double booked, the non-pumping person was asked to move their slot. I get that in an ideal world, it would be best to have separate rooms for both. But there’s no sense creating a room for pumping only and then not allowing anyone to use it until you happen to have a breastfeeding employee (in a small company this could be every few years). Just make sure someone has oversight to handle prioritization.

    12. izumi marcus*

      This! Pumping is a *must* while all the others are more optional. We’ve had LWs here having conflicts with non-lactating people using the lactation suite as a lounge, and this scenario would exactly set up that situation.

    13. JSPA*

      When there isn’t anyone pregnant, let alone nursing yet, that’s going to be a big ask.

      Why not think of it as a room whose function converts, once someone needs it for lactation? Compare a hotel with a wedding reception ballroom that can instead be configured as a set of four conference rooms. The purpose and configuration are decided in advance, not by people showing up to dance while there’s a national llama groomers meeting booked. For some months after someone gives birth and intends to come to work and pump, it will be a lactation room, pure and simple; when nobody who’s working from the office is lactating, it’s a relaxation room (and I suppose an emergency pumping room, with priority, if an unexpected visitor needs to pump).

      Separate issue (though thinking of dividers got me started):

      Having a screen or some sort of not-quite-full-length wall would be helpful, not only for pumping but for relaxation and stretching in what could be an undignified pose. That way, if someone gets confused on their scheduled time, doesn’t notice the sign and starts to barge in, the person inside will be able to hear and see that the door is opening, and say, “hold up,” before the person entering can see what’s going on inside.

      Some sort of sanitation system (and a small fridge, for pumped milk only) would of course be excellent. If there isn’t the ability to do so, at least bottled water and some sort of plug-in sanitizer system.

      A weight bench, some very small hand weights, a foam roller, some fairly stiff foam eggs (not balls, people will throw balls) and some stretching “handhold” type equipment are excellent for dealing with a tight neck, tight lower back, first rib occlusion, sciatica, etc.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, government in crowded buildings, like nature, abhors a vacuum. If nobody’s using the room as a lactation room, it’s going to turn into something else that’s less likely to benefit people than a mixed use room.

      2. Mockingjay*

        If you do install a fridge, make sure it is not a ‘cool box.’ The smaller units tend to be meant for keeping beverages cool, not cold. Make sure the temperature range is sufficient to safely preserve breast milk.

        1. AnonToday*

          Yes, the little “compressorless” Peltier coolers are appealing but won’t keep food (including breastmilk) at a safe temperature.

          I believe that the kind of small refrigerators used in dorms and hotel mini-bars (that have an actual compressor) should be adequate.

    14. hayling*

      +1 to this. My company actually has 3 separate rooms:
      – One for nursing mothers (I think you might have to get approval to reserve it, actually)
      – One for meditation/prayer
      – One called the “exercise” room that’s really for stretching/yoga (has some yoga mats and blocks, one of those giant rubber balls, a few weights, etc)

      As someone who has to do PT mid-day, the exercise room was a godsend. At my previous company, I had to get an ADA accommodation to use the mothers room.

    15. Ms.Mason*

      There’s a room in my building, that’s private, lockable, bookable, has a comfy chair and a sink – plus a small work table. I always thought it was a just a private get-away space that staff could book if they needed a private space to get their head down or work in silence for a bit. I never could figure out what the sink was for! Thanks AAM!! Nice to know my workspace is human-centred kinda place.

  3. Bella*

    Rooms to pump should be somewhere different from a recharge/relaxation room.
    Also, how does this different from a lunch/break room?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      It sounds like it would be more private.

      The facility my grandmother lived in had a meditation room. It had lower lights, cushions, & comfy chairs. They also had battery-operated candles (fire safety).

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Sounds like it’s going to be more somewhere people use one at a time rather than somewhere people gather to chat/eat lunch.

    3. Generic Name*

      Lunch/breakroom= large, brightly lit, kitchenette, full of people talking, meant for eating/socializing

      Meditation/relaxation room= small(er), dim(er) lighting, carpeted and has soft furnishings such as prayer rugs and yoga mats, meant for private use or a small group of people praying.

      1. OP*

        Yes – we do have a break room with fridge, microwave, kitchen cabinets, tables and chairs that seats 12.

        This room is a private office space. Many of our employees work in shared spaces (cubicles or simply a large room with several workspaces), and this room would be a place where employees could take a few minutes to themselves to make a private phone call, think quietly, rest, etc.

    4. C in the Hood*

      Our meditation room was made especially for a Hindu employee to take their time for prayer (which apparently involves getting down on a mat & bowing or something like that). It really does need to be private. (Side note: the particular employee left the company before the room was finished, so it has not yet been used for its intended purpose.)

  4. Blue Glass*

    I think you’re going to have to have a separate clean private room for women who are pumping their breast milk. I don’t see how breastfeeding mothers can share that space with people coming in and out.

    1. Teacher, here*

      I assume the door would have a lock, so there would be no “in and out” while someone was pumping, no?

      1. Esmeralda*

        Speaking from experience: even if it’s locked with a large “occupied” sign, people are going to turn the knob, yank on it, knock, call out “is anyone in there?” “when will you be done?” “I really need to use the room, I don’t mind sharing” etc etc

        Which is not conducive to the calm and relaxed state that help start and maintain a steady flow.

        1. Teacher, here*

          Oh for sure, but I’m not sure what would solve that? Even a separate pumping room you have the second person pumping knocking on the door to see if you’re done, etc.

          1. Generic Name*

            My coworker solved the problem of people trying to barge into her office while she pumped by putting a cartoon image of a cow on her door when she was pumping. :)

            1. Fanny Price*

              I did the same at each of the two offices where I worked while breastfeeding. Each time I had at least one person walk in on me, although they backed out fast. I do recommend having the pumping station face away from the door, at least.

              Another thing I’m surprised not to have seen yet in the comments, although maybe someone mentioned it further down the page – look into getting a hospital-grade pump installed in the room. They make ones that are designed to be used by multiple people (so there is no possibility of one person’s fluid getting on another’s pump parts), and it would save lugging around a pump every day for everyone who uses it. With my second I rented such a pump because of my supply issues, and it was so nice to just have that at work and my small old portable one at home. They are much more expensive than a single-user pump, but I think still cheaper than many other amenities that can be provided in a room like this.

          2. Carrots*

            We had a communal pumping room with 8 stations at my large office building, and it was absolutely wonderful. Some chairs were better situated for chatting, others for privacy, so you could choose your spot based on how you were feeling that day. We had a great community of lactation room moms, and I made some of my best work friends in there!

        2. nobadcats*

          Would having a few sets of noise-cancelling headphones help? If your back is to the door, you can’t see the handle rattling and headphones should knock out any knocking or yelling.

        3. Lch*

          It seems that this is what the posted schedule is for? I’m not sure the OP would be considering a relaxation (etc) room if they didn’t think their coworkers were mature enough to share one properly.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      100% agree. Breastfeeding space should definitely be its own dedicated space. Locked, if possible, so that people have to be given the code or granted badge access or something, because there’s always that a**hole who uses the pumping room as their own personal breakroom and prevents the people who actually need it from using it.

      1. Suzie SW*

        And when I was pumping, my job was one that made it hard to really schedule pumping time in advance (I had to take it when I could get it). So having a dedicated space for it was important.

      2. SomebodyElse*

        It doesn’t sound like we know enough to be able to say if a permanent dedicated space is practical for the OPs situation. If it’s a building with 100’s of employees. Then I’d say a separate space makes sense. If it’s an office with a smaller population, then it’s likely that a ‘shared space’ makes more sense. By shared I mean relaxation room is the primary use unless there is a BF’ing mother. Then the primary use shifts for the duration needed with ‘relaxation’ being the secondary/non priority use.

        I think of it this way, what’s the point of having a room that nobody can use (such as the OP’s case where there is nobody breastfeeding at the moment) vs. having a room that everyone can use until it needs to be converted to a dedicated space.

        * Add all the caveats such as scheduling, locked doors, etc

        1. it's just the frame of mind*

          But if people get used to using it one way, then when the primary function shifts they may resent the new primary user(s). That doesn’t make sense, but it’s a risk that the new primary user(s) shouldn’t be subject to.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Yes that’s a risk. But the alternative is that that those same people (ironically including those who are potential users of a dedicated pumping room) are resentful that there is a room sitting empty.

            I think this one of those areas where your experiences and workplaces will shape your perception on this. I’ve worked in large 500+ employee offices where dedicated pumping rooms totally make sense down to a 20-ish person office where there was 1 baby born to an employee in 15 years. I think the employees at a small office would be more open to a mixed use room and ceding priority to nursing mothers.

            1. Kippy*

              Yeah, I work for a company of about 45 employees. In the almost ten years I’ve been here we’ve had one nursing mother. It doesn’t make sense to have a dedicated pumping room if it’s only going to be used once a decade.

              1. AnonnyO*

                Same here. In 5 years we haven’t had a single person require a pumping space. There are many reasons people would benefit from the use of a quiet room sometimes, and doesn’t make sense to have a room sit empty with no one allowed to use it for 5 years.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                I agree; if there is currently no one in the company who would be using it as a nursing room it doesn’t really make sense to spend the money on some nice chairs and a fridge and a good lock just for the room to sit empty for years.

                Just be very clear that it is a multi-use relaxation room where *pumping will be a priority* whenever there are employees who need to use it that way. If you have reasonable employees then they will be reasonable about it. If you don’t have reasonable employees then they would be unreasonable anyway.

            2. Office Lobster DJ*

              I agree. If this room is allotted as part of a wellness initiative to serve current employees, leaving the space empty because someone in the future might need it more defeats the purpose. People can adapt if the room needs to be repurposed down the line for whatever reason.

              In my estimation, the rules and use of this space are going to have to naturally evolve anyway. No one can tell right now how people will utilize the new space. It might get ignored, embraced, abused, or all of the above.

            3. Threeve*

              It definitely depends on the size of the workplace. In a small organization, ad hoc planning is usually pretty easy. It may just mean moving a pregnant employee up to the front of the line for the next available empty office (not hard when you have a few months’ notice).

              IMO if you have a suitable all-purpose room that can be locked and reserved, and an employee is resentful of a coworker’s need to consistently reserve it (for pumping, prayer, whatever), you have a problem that goes beyond allocated space and scheduling.

        2. OP*

          We have about 50 employees who would possibly be using this space.

          You’re right, SomebodyElse – a nursing mom would get first pick of scheduling time; others would have to schedule around that. Relaxation/privacy uses would be non-priority. Room would lock from inside, and I plan to put a “In Use” or “Available” sign on the outside (depending on employees to turn it around properly, of course). Otherwise, scheduling would be a “first come first served” availability.

          1. goducks*

            I think that if you’re only going to have the one room, make two sets of scheduling rules. Nursing moms get to set up a recurring schedule going out weeks, so that their time is always theirs. Other users can only schedule 24 hours in advance so that they can’t take up all the time before the women who have a legal right to the space get their spots.

            I’d also put rules in place for everyone using it for non-nursing reasons about amount of time and frequency of use, lest people turn it into their daily clubhouse so that others can’t use it.

          2. sbc*

            You can get door locks with an “occupied indicator” that shows on the outside when someone locks it on the inside. They aren’t too expensive and remove the step of switching the sign from the process, since people are likely to remember to lock the door before pumping and will certainly unlock it when they leave! I agree that a comfortable chair or two, a calming piece of artwork on the wall (maybe something showing some sort of plants/forest/greenery since there is no window), a table near the chair and outlets, and perhaps a yoga mat and/or bean bag chair would be nice. Ideally the chair would have the kind of surface that is easily wiped clean–not as comfortable as upholstered, perhaps, but better for a communal space.

            1. Be kind, rewind*

              Yup. Wellness room at my last job had one of these locks with an indicator PLUS you could see in the scheduling system that it was reserved.

          3. SomebodyElse*

            I think that sounds very reasonable. I’d just make sure that when you establish the policies and rules you also establish that the room’s primary function will shift for nursing mothers.

            Since I haven’t gotten around to making any suggestions yet here are mine:
            -I’d go for a living room/den configuration, with at least a chair and couch. That way the seating could be flexible and more than one person could use it if they were open to it.
            -Small blue tooth speaker
            -Small table lamp with usb ports (and dedicated charging cables if you think they’d stay in the room!)
            -If you’re going with the mini fridge I’d put a reusable ice pack in the freezer and then also have a heating pad
            -I like the small puzzle idea, but I like those better in break rooms. Gives people something to do while waiting for the microwave or coffee to brew. It also kind of pauses people which allows for more conversation

            Otherwise just poll your office and see what kinds of things they want. I’m sure they would have some good ideas!

            Good luck this sounds great.

          4. Jill Jane*

            My biggest issue with my company’s relaxation room was that not everybody used the scheduler to reserve it. Many would just check if it was empty and then lock themselves in. I never wanted to deal with kicking someone out, so I’d skip my session and be annoyed. Which is the opposite of relaxing. I wouldn’t have minded being bumped last minute if someone with a higher priority needed it, I just wanted to be informed.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              That sounds like a people problem and should have been corrected with the people that didn’t use the scheduler (or the person who admin’d the room). I’ve found that in smaller offices people are generally more likely to say something to people “Oi Bob! I let it slide this this time but next time you’re in the room during my scheduled time I’m kicking you out :)”

              One office that I traveled to monthly had a group that met for prayer once a week in one of the conference rooms. We were all a bit surprised when they showed up at their regular time and there was a meeting going on. (this was one of those unwritten ‘known’ things I guess). When I looked up to see them all standing there very confused, I just said “Oh, was there a scheduling mishap? I thought this was the room I scheduled for today” Since they never scheduled it, it was clear that I had ‘dibs’ on the room. After that I noticed the next time that they had a reoccurring block on the room during that time. Win Win for everyone. They got their room and I just booked a different conference room.

              I can definitely see this being an issue in bigger offices with more people that you may not know personally.

            2. OhNo*

              That’s a good point – there needs to be a person who is in charge of managing the room schedule, whose job it is to kick people out if they overstay their time. That is incredibly important if it is going to be a pumping room, so there is someone who can guarantee those folks get their priority-scheduled time.

          5. infopubs*

            I think it would be helpful to be clear about nursing mothers having priority right from the start. Maybe a sign with the rules posted. That way, even though you have no nursing mothers now, no one should be surprised if the room’s use changes later. Something along the lines of, “When not reserved for private use by a nursing mother, this room may be scheduled for meditation/prayer/etc.” “This room must be scheduled in advance on this website/calendar/spreadsheet. Do not knock or enter if you have not scheduled a time.”

            Just set up these expectations from the beginning and hopefully train people to be respectful.

          6. Waiting on the bus*

            OP, one thing that might help is to call it a nursing/pumping room and say that when it’s not used for that, it can be used for phone calls, meditation, relaxation, etc. To make it clear what the priority is and hopefully red

          7. Waiting on the bus*

            OP, I think it would help to call it a nursing/pumping room and allow using it for phone calls, relaxation, etc. when it’s not used for its primary purpose. That way there shouldn’t be too much grumbling when the first nursing emplo

      3. NeedRain47*

        This is why the building where I work has a pumping room that is ONLY FOR PUMPING. If you are not pumping it’s locked to you. They literally took out the toilet (left the sink) so no one could use it as their private bathroom either.

          1. NeedRain47*

            Even if there’s a toilet there, it’s not a public restroom if only nursing mothers can access it.

            1. fposte*

              But if there’s a toilet there, somebody other than a nursing mother is bound to access it; lesser-used toilets are a big deal for many office workers. I’m guessing that was behind the thinking of removing the toilet.

              1. quill*

                I’d assume the sanitation aspect would be behind the toilet removal: Nobody should be pumping in a restroom, public or not! too many fecal coliform bacteria wandering around…

        1. Miss Muffet*

          One of the other offices of the company I worked at, where I visited when I was pumping, had the nursing room through a locked door through the other side of the women’s restroom (so you’d walk straight through, past the toilets, to get to the door). You had to request to have your badge keyed for it. There were 2 or 3 private rooms in there with counters and people would leave magazines and stuff to read, and then there was like a little foyer with the mini fridge and sink. I don’t think we had to reserve the rooms, but with that many private spots, it didn’t seem to ever be an issue. One of them at least was always free.

    3. kiki*

      I think the intention is that folks book the room for individual use, for meditation, prayer, or stretching, so there wouldn’t be much coming in and out.

      That being said, if your company has more than a handful of people, I would really advocate for a separate pumping room and relaxation room. I’ve seen a lot of systems intended to prioritize pumping and they never seemed to work quite right, especially if you ever have more than one person who needs to pump.

      My last job had a relaxation room. I never used it because I was pretty busy and then transitioned to working from home, but for my peers with migraines, it was a lifesaver. It had a couch and could get really dark. There was some softer lighting in there, like a salt lamp. It also had enough open space for a single yoga mat and a speaker for music or meditation guides.

      1. Lizzie*

        We have something similar, only it’s called the “quiet room” I believe the original intention was that it would also double as a pumping room, but my company is small, AND the population is older, so i don’t know that it ever was used for pumping. Or if it was, it hasn’t been in a very long time!
        I know now there is at least one Muslim employee who uses it for prayer but other than that, not sure if its used at all.

      2. Gnome*

        I had a migraine yesterday. If I had been at work I would have crawled into that room and asked someone to come pick me up and take me home.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          My prior workplace was designed in the times where women were thought to be feeble creatures who needed fainting rooms. The ladies rooms all had a ‘lounge’ room with a couch, dimmable lights, various magazines, etc. It was a separate room you walked through to get to the bathroom. None of the mens room had one.
          I have never been so grateful for a stereotype. I used them when I felt a migraine coming on and it made such a difference. I’ve missed them ever since.

          1. Events Coordinator?*

            My current office has one of those. I assume it’s dressed up to be a “fainting” room because thinking about women passing out is favorable to thinking about women breastfeeding/pumping, but alas, federal law requires a pumping room. I’ve seriously thought about curling up in there on occasion but didn’t want to interrupt someone pumping with my mid afternoon snoozles.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep, if you establish this as a relaxation room and then a year or two down the line someone needs it for pumping, people will resent that person for “ruining” or “hogging” the space and the person who needs it for pumping will feel really uncomfortable using it.

      1. fposte*

        That may be true, but it seems like the alternatives would be worse–not having the room at all, or having the room be empty most of the time. Frankly, I’d be less inclined to cater to those who sulked about sharing a perk.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah, I just think they should be careful how they describe it. Like “this is a privacy room for needs like using a breast pump or dealing with a migraine, but you are also welcome to schedule it for naps/phone calls/meditation as availability allows” instead of “this is a relaxation room but can also be used for pumping”

  5. TROI*

    We are a small (25-30) people office and ours is called a “Mother’s Room”. Specifically it’s main purpose has to be that so there is no conflict about who gets main priority for that room.

    It is a small dark windowless office but it works well for that purpose. There is a comfy chair, a desk, and a cot folded away in the corner. When we don’t have a women who is nursing on staff or on shift, and only then, people will use it as a headache or nap room. No scheduling time, first come first serve and people use it 30 min max.

    1. Sarah*

      Would strongly recommend not calling any room designated for pumping as a “mother’s room.” Not all mothers pump, and not all who pump are mothers.

      1. anonymous73*

        That’s unnecessarily nitpicky. What would you advise calling it so that everyone knows the first priority is for pumping mothers?

        1. Stokes*

          Nursing room. Breastfeeding room. Pumping room. All of those work and none erase / exclude people who are nursing and aren’t called mothers.

        2. Cubicle_queen*

          Pumping Room.

          Add an asterisk that if you don’t know what that means, then you don’t need the room (and ask your manager for clarity).

          1. kiki*

            Now I’m imagining a clueless gym bro bringing weights in there one day and confidently telling people “I know what pumping means” :D

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        We also use the word “bathroom” to refer to places that have only toilets and sinks.

        I have a peeve about people who object to something without having a suggestion as well, because it puts all the work back on the other person. It seems to come up most often in group decisions of where to eat, but this is another example. With that in mind: “Pump room” does mean a room with a pump in it, but it’s usually a big industrial pump. Would “lactation room” work for you?

      3. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        I work for a company that called them “mother’s rooms” and it’s clear what it means.

        1. Queer Teacher*

          It’s also not trans inclusive though. As a person with the capability to be a gestational parent, I would be really uncomfortable being asked to use a space that is gendered for mothers. Just because something is the majority doesn’t mean excluding the minority is okay.

      4. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        Calling it “mother’s room” confused SO MANY of my co-workers. It was a large international company with multiple thousands of people in a cluster of a dozen buildings or so, and enough of a workplace hub that employees from other countries were visiting constantly. Every couple months I would hear about someone coming in from offsite and trying to reserve what they thought was a small conference room, only to arrive and find that it was a lactation room. Each person only made that mistake once, but there were enough people that it kept happening and happening.

        (There were also small conference rooms, phone booth rooms, and a few relaxation/prayer rooms, but “mother’s room” was enough of a euphemism that it didn’t necessarily get through to some.)

    2. Mel*

      I think this is a great way to frame it. At a previous company we had a wellness room, but every time I tried to use the space, it would be booked by nursing mothers. Which is fine! But I think calling it a Mother’s Room or something similar would have helped temper my expectations and understand that I could use it whenever it’s free.

  6. Masha*

    We have massage chairs since a lot of our employees get sore backs and bodies from sitting at the computer all day. To be honest I don’t use it too often but when you need it, it’s such a godsend.

    1. DataGirl*

      That sounds amazing.

      In the before times, we probably had 1500-2000 people in our building. There was one meditation/relaxation room – you did not have to schedule it and every time I went there it was empty. So that says something about how much it got used. Our room had two reclining chairs and yoga mats. I would go there to nap for 15 minutes in one of the chairs or stretch.

    2. Buffy will save us*

      As an occupational therapist, I immediately thought to make it like a sensory room for students. Covers over the overhead lights, sound machine or ability to play music of choice, massagers (and wipes to clean them), maybe aromatherapy.

  7. Just a name*

    One thing our nursing moms requested was a dedicated small refrigerator for storing the milk they pumped.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      We have this, too. It’s also useful for people who need to utilize medications which require refrigeration throughout the day.

      As far as sign up goes, folks who needed the private room at the same time each day for lactation or medication were able to sign up with admin. You don’t have to provide details, just say you needed it daily and state which time worked best for you. Schedules were printed with recurring appointments already in place, and others could sign up by hand. If you needed it unexpectedly for any reason and it was empty, just wrote your name on the sheet before entering so others would know it was taken.

  8. Schnapps*

    Maybe a booking calendar so that a few people don’t occupy it forever?
    Hopefully it has a window for natural light, a locking door, maybe a comfy chair and some cleaning supplies (hand sanitizer, wipes). And access to water. Other stuff to possibly include: yoga mats (the kind that can be wiped down), exercise bands (inexpensive, easy to clean).

    For nursing people, I’d suggest a separate, soundproofed space with a sink so pump parts can be washed properly.

    1. TPS reporter*

      yeah I don’t know if it’s the pandemic talking but I’m squicked out by the thought of a bunch of different people breathing in and touching a sealed off room. Definitely provide lots of supplies to clean before/after.

      This is a super wish list item- could you also have one larger room that is more open but designated as quiet space? In addition of course to the private areas. kind of like a library/lounge where people know you can’t talk and you just have to be respectful of those around you.

  9. NotAnotherSageGrouse*

    My old job had one, and it was BELOVED by employees– people took naps, yoga breaks, prayer breaks, etc. We had a “occupied” sign you could hang on the door, and a 30-minute limit so people had a chance to use it.
    It had a dimmer on the lights, a mini white noise machine, a couch with a blanket, and a mat you could roll out if you wanted to be on the floor, and a couple of plants. The white noise machine was a really nice touch, since it meant you didn’t have to hear office noise when you were in the room.

    1. FormerlyPumpingMom*

      Your mention of white noise machine made me think of this – in COVIDtimes, think about a HEPA air purifier. It’s possible for aerosols to hang out in enclosed spaces, ready for the next person to come in and breathe them in. A small room HEPA filter can help provide clean air and serve as some white noise.

    2. Suzie SW*

      I like this approach. Ours was never scheduled, and I think having a time limit helps make sure people have access. In our work, things come up a lot, which means break times are often adjusted to accommodate those needs. The flexibility of being able to pop in without notice was great. I loved the recliner, there was a massage hair pad that was pretty popular, and we had things like puzzles out on a table. It was great to pop in and add a few pieces here or there…helped to shut off the ruminating thoughts that can come with a demanding job.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Couch with blanket: When I was pregnant, this was what I used the nursing-and-others room for–I really needed to lie down with my feet up for 15 minutes.

      1. Internist*

        Yes, couch with blanket! My former workplace had a room with this where could you sign up online in 30-minute increments. I sometimes get bad stomach aches out of nowhere and just laying down for a few minutes would help me get on with my day.

    4. Mm*

      We had something similar. It had a big comfy chair. The occupied sign and informal time limit was great, I never saw anyone abuse it. I actually didn’t use this room much. But when I need it – mostly notably the weeks after my mom passed away unexpectedly – it was great to have a private space.

    5. ACM*

      The dimmer on the lights sounds amazing. I have times when all the light and noise gets a lot and it helps to go somewhere I can get away from that.

  10. Janet Pinkerton*

    So first—you need to it be reservable and lockable. For pumping, you need a comfortable chair, a table, an outlet, and a fridge. If you can swing having a sink in there, that would really really be ideal but I understand that it might not work.

    Is there a way to make the reservations private? I would hate to have PINKERTON – PUMPING on a calendar for everyone to see, but you need to make sure those folks have priority.

  11. Essentially Cheesy*

    We have an office and plant break rooms for that purpose. Almost (99%) of office staff here have closing-door offices and can make a personal phone call or have a private break if they need one.

    1. Essentially Cheesy*

      Oh and yes – a lactation room needs to be a separate room all-together with at least a locking door.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      In government, you have to work your way up to a door.

      My office is by some very lovely outdoor areas, so in nice weather, people go outside to recharge, but something like the OP is thinking about would be great in bad weather. (We already have nursing rooms, which are meant only for that purpose.)

      1. Essentially Cheesy*

        I do admit that my office mates and myself a spoiled in that way. There is room for cubicles but the staff that once used them are now either at our Corporate office in a large metro city or maybe WFH.

        The way the office is configured, I even have a door – and I work the front desk. It may be for security purposes though – it locks from the outside so if anyone breaks in – another layer of defense.

  12. Waterbird*

    I’m fully remote now, but as someone who suffers from migraines, I loved having access to relaxation rooms in my office. Ours were basically just small rooms with dimmable lights, a somewhat comfortable chair, a sink and a fridge. (There were separate rooms for pumping, but from what I could tell, they had the exact same amenities.)

    My company has a system for reserving conference rooms, so the relaxation rooms were just part of that to avoid people just camping out in a room all day. You could only reserve an hour at a time and there weren’t any issues with people scheduling multiple hours per day, although I’m sure the rules could be changed if that issue arose (one hour per day, per week, etc.)

    1. Aziraphale the Cat*

      As a migraine sufferer something like this would mean the world to me! When it’s bad I go to my car to take a short nap but I feel that it isn’t very professional.

  13. A Simple Narwhal*

    A comfortable reclining chair is definitely a must have. Also make sure the room is well ventilated so it’s not a stuffy mess, maybe an air purifier? I’d also recommend some non-overhead lighting since the lights in an office can be so harsh and not relaxing at all.

    This one’s just me, but the touch of green that comes from a (fake) plant can add a touch of personalization and comfort without taking much space or requiring care.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Yes, and pictures of nature. Studies (and I wish I could cite them specifically) have shown that being able to see pictures of nature has almost as much positive effect on people as being able to see actual nature.

        1. GermanGirl*

          Please not, or at least make it very easy to turn off.

          Getting away from background noise of any kind, even nature sounds, would be my first priority if I needed to relax.

  14. Ann Perkins*

    Pumping mom here. Comfortable furniture with an outlet nearby, lockable door, either no glass or if you want to let light in, frosted glass. A mini fridge would be nice too. A sink would be nice but not necessary.

    1. GermanGirl*

      Depends on where the next available suitable sink is. I had to run down two flights of stairs everytime I wanted to rinse my pumping equipment. A sink would be much appreciated!

  15. Library Lady*

    We have a “meditation room” at my work. It’s a closet we converted into a single-person room with a comfortable leather recliner, digital clock, light switch, and blanket inside. It locks with one of those locks that says “occupied” or “available,” so people know not to disturb the person.

    Our staff uses it every day throughout the day. We haven’t had anyone abuse it; people would notice if you were gone for an extended period of time, or they weren’t able to access it themselves for an extended period of time.

  16. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

    My old employer’s nursing rooms were inside our gym, through the women’s locker room. This was helpful for privacy and cleaning up (there was a little kitchenette space built right outside the doors) but super awkward when I had to take vendors or visitors up if they had to pump during long meetings.

    We didn’t have a recharge room specifically, but one thing we did that I loved and would recommend was hire a local massage therapist to come give 15 minute chair massages in a small conference room once a month. You could book on our training system and then just bring her cash (the company subsidized her so it was like $10), and the bookings were always in hot demand. She used a very small windowless meeting room intended for phone calls etc. It was a great perk.

  17. Lauren19*

    We had one of these in my last role, duel relaxation room and pumping room. I used it for pumping. A few thoughts:
    – refrigerator for breast milk
    – lockers to keep pumps (make sure these can lock, my pump was stolen from our room)
    – 2 types of seating. Nursing moms need a sturdy back, relaxers are going to want something that reclines
    – table for laptop/other work and close to an outlet so moms can still work while pumping (if they want)
    – Clorox wipes
    – If possible a light dimmer

    – Determine if this is going to be a sign up sheet on the door or an online calendar tool. On the door lets people know exactly who should be in there but online allows people to make changes without being in the office
    – Give returning moms some leeway in scheduling, they won’t know on their first week or two back what the right pumping schedule is for them.

    – The biggest challenge was this became the intern gossip room. Since interns sat in cubes they didn’t have anywhere private to talk about last night’s happy hour or how terrible their boss was, so they went here.
    – Depending on office culture this can get a negative stigma based on who’s using it. If it’s important to leadership that employees feel welcome to use this, some more senior level people have to also use it, even if it’s 15 minutes every other week.

    It’s a great idea and I hope it works out for you!

  18. My heart is a fish*

    It’s been years (decades *cough*) but I did work someplace with a “quiet room” back in the day.

    The room had a variety of lighting, mostly fairly dim — you could turn on the usual overhead fluorescents, but it was also stocked with lamps that had much gentler “warm light” bulbs at a low wattage, to be easy on the eyes and more restful. There was a daybed with a pillow if one needed to lie down, as well as a chair and desk. I presume the linens were laundered on a regular basis — at least, I hope so!

    This was a religious workplace, so there were a number of religious texts on hand, and the most common use of the quiet room was for people who wished to pray during the day. Presumably, a secular workplace wouldn’t include this! Though it might not be a terrible idea to make a few books on mental health available, or some of those ‘adult coloring books’ that people like to use to chill out when needed.

    Not included back in the day, but updating to more modern times, I’d also suggest making sure there are easily accessible outlets (like, not behind the desk) and maybe a charging station — if someone needs to make a private call, or have a mid-day telehealth appointment that requires video, keeping their phone juiced up would be helpful.

    I was pretty fond of the quiet room, and a regular user of it. Can’t speak to the nursing room aspect, as that was never my use.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      I actually think a secular workspace SHOULD make it clear that the relaxation room can be used for prayer. Muslims, for example, have defined times for prayer throughout the day, and an inclusive employer should make space for that.

      1. My heart is a fish*

        Yes, thank you. I meant that the secular workplace presumably wouldn’t include the religious texts, but reading back I see it wasn’t worded clearly.

      2. Anonymouse*

        I think they meant a secular workplace wouldn’t include religious texts in the quiet room, even if it might sometimes be used for prayer – not that a secular workplace should or ought to discourage its use for prayer.

        I would be a little uncomfortable to use a quiet room at a secular workplace and find, say, a bible in there. That’s something religious folks can bring from home!

  19. Come On Eileen*

    There’s a lot of info out there on the concept of “renewal rooms” for nurses and other people in high-stress professions who need a space to slip into during their shift to recharge. They contain things like massage chairs (great if that’s in your budget), aromatherapy, salt lamps, yoga mats, daily meditation books, low lighting, etc. I’d personally love something like this at my office but agree it should be separate from a room for nursing mothers.

    1. Orange Julius*

      These are great suggestions! As someone who is very sensitive to fragrances, I’d advise against the aromatherapy though…it would be nice to get a break from everyone’s perfumes in the office, too!

  20. HugeTractsofLand*

    Since the room ideally wouldn’t have windows to maintain privacy, I think you’ll need something physically on the door to convey if someone is in there or not, like an Occupied sign that you hang from the knob or slap on the door. Yes, people can (and should!) check a calendar, but I imagine people would get barged in on if there isn’t a sign. I know when I get an incoming call that I need to take, I need the room *right now* and wouldn’t have time to sign up/check.

    Coming up with time limits as the primary use guideline would also be smart. That way you’re not telling people they HAVE to do XYZ, you’re just telling them that they can’t be in there longer than X.

    1. Re'lar Fela*

      For the door, a lock like the kind on some public restrooms that switches to “occupied” when locked might be helpful. Though a larger visual may be useful as well, to avoid the door rattle of death (as someone with a decent amount of social anxiety, someone trying to enter a door that I’ve locked, such as in a public restroom or dressing room, sends me into a cold sweat…I’m weird, I know)

      1. Ally McBeal*

        Not weird at all – this is an issue in so many offices, especially with single-occupancy bathrooms. At an old job I was able to convince the COO to install those “occupied” door locks on all our bathrooms when we were renovating our office and adding one bathroom. After that the only embarrassing bathroom run-ins were when someone popped in to just wash their hands or floss and didn’t think to lock the door, which was a huge improvement.

  21. NeedRain47*

    I’m a little worried about combining the nursing mother room with someone else. People who *need* the room shouldn’t have to compete with people who are using it for leisure. But you know better if that’s likely to happen in your office or not.

    Other than that, OMG I would love a solitary place to take a break at work! I suggest a yoga mat (with available cleaning supplies) or at least an open space big enough for people to bring their own and lay it out on the floor. Taking a five minute stretch break after sitting at a desk for four hours sounds ideal, but there are zero appropriate places at current job.

    1. it's just the frame of mind*

      I agree with what you said except:

      “People who *need* the room shouldn’t have to compete with people who are using it for leisure.”

      It does make sense that people who need it for one thing shouldn’t be forced into conflict with people who need it for another thing. Relaxation is a human need that we’ve been trying to forget about for a few centuries, and it’s important to frame it that way. That changes nothing about the fact that breastfeeding parents need a dedicated room that isn’t used by other people who may come to feel entitled to it.

      1. AnonnyO*

        Other people may “need” the room too. they just may not need it for pumping. Lots of people have mentioned things like migraines, prayer, sensory needs, mental health difficulties, etc. that could really be helped by a room like this if you work in a space where no one has their own office. When there is only one room available (which OP has said) then the goal should be to find a way that everyone who needs it can use it

    2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      I have an issue with the other uses being grouped in as “leisure” – Prayer isn’t leisure (especially as Muslim men do it). Mental health self care isn’t leisure. Needing a space to lie down and nurse a migraine isn’t leisure. None of these things are less or more important than needing to pump.

      (Gossiping interns is leisure, which is why a meditation/relaxation room isn’t a ‘break room’)

      1. goducks*

        Providing a space to nurse is required by law. Providing a space to lay down is not. Both can be important to individuals, but one is absolutely a priority over the other when it comes to the workplace.

        1. fposte*

          Providing a space to nurse isn’t required by law across the board; it’s not required for exempt employees (though there’s a bill in process that might change that), and employers with under 50 employees don’t have to provide one if it creates an “undue burden.”

          However, I agree that it should be a priority regardless of the legal requirement in this particular case.

          1. goducks*

            Are you sure? I read that differently. The breaks are only required for employees subject to FLSA (so not exempt employees) which makes sense since all FLSA break laws only apply to non-exempt. But the space says that all employers subject to FLSA (which I’d be hard pressed to believe that there’s many employer who don’t have at least some non-exempt staff if properly classified) must provide a space for pumping. Have you seen guidance or case law that suggests otherwise? I’d like to see it if you have.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I’m sure. The full statement is “and are not exempt from FLSA’s overtime pay requirements.” I’ll put a DOL link in followup.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      I agree with this, though even with lactation specific rooms there should be a signup sheet. To make it work, I think people who need to pump or administer medications should have a designated recurring time slot so they don’t have to compete and can take care of their medical needs in a consistent manner. If the office is large enough more than one room may be needed anyway, but regardless of how many rooms there are and whether or not any are reserved specifically for lactation purposes, priority sign up is necessary.

  22. Ground Control*

    I’ve never used one of these rooms in all the 10+ years they’ve been available to me, and I’ve only seen other people use them (they have glass doors in both places I’ve worked) for private phone calls. I have chronic illnesses that cause fatigue so in theory I’d love to be able to take a short nap when I’m feeling especially exhausted but it seems like such a chore to reserve a slot and get the key when I need it, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable sleeping there anyways.

    1. Ground Control*

      We do have lactation rooms (a term I much prefer over “mother’s rooms”) that obviously don’t have glass walls and I do know people use those regularly. I’m just speaking to the idea of a “relaxation” room.

    2. Ground Control*

      I’ve been WFH too long – the relaxation rooms I’ve had access don’t have glass doors! The glass door rooms are for working or taking calls in private. The relation/quiet rooms I’ve had available were fully private, I’ve just never heard of people using them or seen people come in or out for anything other than pumping. Obviously people wouldn’t feel comfortable napping in a room with glass doors! I don’t know where my brain is today.

  23. anonarama*

    I agree with all that lactation rooms need to be separate. It was challenging enough to figure out space for pumping just coordinating around other people who also were pumping. Having to figure out scheduling for pumping around people’s doctors calls or meditation or whatever would make it functionally unusable as a lactation room.

  24. soontoberetired*

    My workplace has set up privacy booths for people who need to make a phone call in private, or need private space for a short while. They are literally booths with a door that closes, a place to sit, and windows, and are pretty sound proof (or are supposed to be). they look pretty nice but small. Each floor has at least 2.

    but we have a huge cafeteria with some informal seating areas for people who need to relax, including a game room.

    Lactation aka pumping rooms are separate from everything else since they have different requirements. they had “sick rooms” for temporary spots for people who had migraines, etc, and converted them to lactation rooms. Because really, if you were that sick you needed your own space, you should be home.

    1. Procastisaurus*

      Gosh, i wish we had one of these. If we did, I’d get a foam roller!

      Yoga mats, and how about some yoga blocks ?

      1. soontoberetired*

        we also have an exercise room with matts and yoga blocks. Totally separate from the break areas. They used to offer classes morning/noon/after work for fitness.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, the last two places I’ve worked at have had what are essentially tiny offices/phone rooms for quick meetings/zoom/teleconferences or private phone calls, as well as a separate lactation room with a comfy chair/sink/fridge that could also be used as a quiet room if you were in need of a quiet private space for dealing with a migraine or whatever.

    3. File Herder*

      If you’re that sick with migraine, you may need to lie down in the dark, or at least the quiet, for a bit before being able to get yourself home. And if you have aura you may be able to stop the actual migraine by chugging the meds and going somewhere quiet and possibly dark until the meds take effect.

      Also: a lot of people with migraine, including me, don’t necessarily need somewhere dark. They need somewhere silent without fluorescent light. I’m usually okay with daylight or incandescent light, and if I’m trying to work through aura I need normal light levels without fluorescent lighting, because the eyestrain from working in the dark would turn it from aura to full on migraine. But I need somewhere quiet, preferably completely silent. To give an idea of the difference it makes, I can often keep working in those conditions and just feel under the weather, even though if I tried to work in a noisy open plan office under fluorescent lighting I’d be in agony. (I really wouldn’t want to be in a shared room with someone pumping even if they were comfortable with it, since I gather pumps are noisy, presumably with the sort of rhythmic thumping that is a guaranteed trigger for me.)

      Lactation rooms are an absolute must; but telling me that I am not allowed to have access to self-treatment at an early stage at work because I should just go home so that all available spaces can be converted to lactation rooms is no more fair than me telling nursing people that they should just go home so that all available spaces can be converted to medical need rooms.

  25. hamsterpants*

    In my workspace you’d need a rule that the relaxation room cannot be used for work, otherwise visiting executives would turn it into their own private office for the day.

    I love the suggestions so far and want to be optimistic… At the same time, you probably do need a set of ground rules and someone empowered to enforce them.

    1. JB*

      And not for work calls or virtual meetings either, as people may be tempted to use it for those if other meeting spaces may be booked out.

  26. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Chiming in that if at all possible the nursing room should be separate. Especially if at the conception of the room there’s no nursing employees in the workplace at present, everyone will get used to being able to use it for their needs and will not be happy about nursing employees “hogging the room” later on. (Not saying that they would be, but I can absolutely see people getting upset about not being able to use the room as much because they don’t realize how long pumping takes!)
    If there’s no way to have a separate space for nursing, you’ll need to enact very clear policies that nursing employees’ have priority on the room. Creating a set of policies and asking everyone to acknowledge them prior to using the room will at least hopefully head off some of the potential issues.

    Other than that, just make sure you take care of the basics like having enough outlets for laptops, chargers, etc. Maybe a dimmer switch on the lights. If you’ve got fluorescents, then consider having lots of lamps so people can control the lighting. I don’t suggest getting a couch, chaise, or other furniture that encourages napping. Comfy chairs are good, but you want people to relax, not zonk out.
    Make sure the room is included on the office cleaning schedule and that any soft items like blankets, chairs, etc get regularly cleaned as well.
    A basket of fidget toys would be good too!

    1. Cat Lover*

      OP said upthread that they cannot change the layout/structural integrity of the building.

  27. Local Woman*

    I’m in my office’s wellness room as I type this! We have a fuzzy rug, a chair and ottoman, two bolster-type pillows, a small table with a white noise/nature sound machine on it, and a floor lamp with a warm, dim, bulb. In terms of amenities, there’s a small fridge, a sink with dish soap and hand soap, a trash and recycling can, paper towels, and various single-serve packs of OTC medications (think Aleve, Motrin, Pepcid, etc. When the door is locked, the lock changes color so it’s clear someone is inside and nobody has to knock. Best of luck setting yours up!

    1. Local Woman*

      Also—we used to have an online signup system, but since we’ve gone hybrid fewer folks are in the office so it’s not used and the room is avail as needed. This is also the pumping room, and we have two rooms like this for ~200 employees (but probably ~50 are permanently remote). I rarely go there to find it occupied.

  28. Ewesername*

    We had one at my last place of employment, reservation required, 30 min timelimit. It had a wash station and fridge for the moms. Water cooler and comfy recliners for all and an old iPhone/ speaker combo with the Headspace meditation app available if wanted.We had the option to book it as private or shared (up to four people). Some of us liked to do mediation in the early afternoon a couple of days a week, so shared was fine for that. I miss that room… (sigh)

  29. Gnome*

    If you can’t have a separate space for pumping, I highly recommend a locking door and a “occupied” sign. For that matter, the sign might be good regardless.

    If it will be used for pumping, having a sink would be ideal as would a comfortable chair (for people of multiple heights!) And a table. A nursing stool would be nice for women who are shorter.

    Also, softer lighting, muted but not sterile colors. A supply of tissues and paper towels are good for just about everyone. If there are windows, curtains would be good too.

  30. Web Crawler*

    I’m autistic and get migraines. My work’s quiet room wasn’t reservable but I’d hide in there with the lights off when the stress of being around people got to be too much for me.

    Things that were useful:
    Dimmable lights
    A comfy chair/couch

    1. Scot Librarian*

      Having a quiet room available at any time for an autistic employee to sit and emotional regulate is a common reasonable adjustment / accommodation. Good practice is: lockable, not cluttered / visually stimulating, comfortable seat, basket of fidget toys, you can’t see in, either a window or a picture of nature,ability to adjust the temperature, no scented items used inside (scent sensitivities), dimmable lights that don’t buzz, not fluorescents

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good point, please make this a “no diffusers/scented candles/air spray” zone. And since we have covid to worry about, put in a really good air filter or otherwise make sure the ventilation is sufficient for the numbers of people who will be using this.

    2. dawbs*

      We’re currently designing one at my work for kids (it’s a children’s hands-on museum)–our audience isn’t the same as the workplace but there’s some overlap, but

      a small part of what we have on our list:
      -chair with arms (for nursing mothers)
      -Other seating flexible–some soft (a bean bag!) and some that are regular chairs–with optional wiggle cushions)–and I really want a modular couch like a nugget couch because the ability to throw yourself onto a pile of cushions or pile them on top of you for deep pressure is amazing.
      (I’d also love a swing and a mini trampoline but we might not be able to do that because of supervision issues)
      -sink (we’re not doing the fridge thing because it doesn’t work when open to the public, but for washing hands and pump parts)
      -fidgets–a variety of them!
      -a balance board of some sort
      -something ‘cave like’ that can be climbed into
      -Dimable lights
      -interesting calming lights! bubble lights, fiber optic waterfalls, etc. (OP, if you look up ‘sensory friendly rooms’ and look at the educational options, they are amazing)
      -White noise machine (that can be turned on and off by guests)
      -Quibla pointer (it’s the arrow that points to make it a better prayer room)
      -sound dampening panels of some sort

      Our “please no” list is:
      -no Stripes or Very bold colors
      -no exposed materials you could hurt yourself (Sharp or rough surfaces) on or climb on or pry (cover bricks, pipes, etc)
      -avoid as much as possible Fluorescent lighting and harsh/bright lighting
      -no Strong smells (so a ‘no food’ space-water only. no air fresheners!)
      -no Things that echo sound (so cover brick with padding of some sort)

  31. Marigold X*

    I think people suggesting two separate rooms are well intentioned but it’s often not realistic in government office buildings which are usually dated and already undersized. I work in a Town Hall in a small town and I’m the only employee who works in the building who is of childbearing age. However there are three of us who have regular migraines who could use a quiet dark room. To have one whole room dedicated to pumping when no one is pumping and we’re already sharing offices and stacking things on top of each other for storage would be an ask that wouldn’t go over well, because it’s completely infeasible. If we someday redesign Town Hall I will likely request a small private mixed-use room like LW is asking for since it won’t sit empty and unused most of the time. The request is still likely put me on the spot to have to answer questions about my personal childbearing plans, but at least it will be slightly less obvious.

    1. fposte*

      Totally agree. The other thing is that with offices under serious space pressure, if that room is perceived as being unused a great deal of the time it’s going to be repurposed. It’s to the benefit of everybody to make a mixed-use space work.

  32. merida*

    A previous company I worked at had several wellness rooms and I loved that! We used Outlook to book the rooms, but I think it’s important to stress that the rooms are by reservation only so that you don’t have people taking up the room when someone else reserved it. We had some wellness/lactation rooms and a couple lactation-only rooms.

    I would also note the value of having dimmable ceiling lighting or having lamp(s). I used the wellness room on occasion when I had a migraine and needed a few minutes to try to get it under control before I went back to work – and the options in the room were either the extra-bright, harsh, florescent, office lighting blinding you in a tiny room, or pitch darkness (can’t see your hand in front of your face kind of dark) with the lights off. The first option was so painful with a migraine, and with the second option I once tripped over furniture and fell. lol

  33. Confused By People*

    My office has a fantastic mothers room that was featured in the NYT, dimmable lights, comfy couch, and a mini fridge specifically for breast milk are a must. Sound proofing and privacy are key there too!

  34. Critical Rolls*

    It should probably be lockable for privacy, but make sure a couple of obvious people have a key! One place I worked a person who was taking a new medication fell soundly asleep and we had a bit of a scramble because the key-haver was out of the building.

    Concur with max 30-minute use, but recommend scheduling in 15-minute increments; pumping folks have priority; and you may need to set a limit on how much of the day can be scheduled in advance (Like 50% or 75%), and how far in advance (like a week). This preserves its use for people who want to pop in for unforeseen reasons like headaches or upsetting encounters.

  35. JZ*

    My company has a nurse-staffed health hub because we also do manufacturing at the facility. Adjacent to the nurse’s office is a small (tiny) pumping room and a separate relaxation room. Both can be locked. The relaxation room has an automated massage chair, a salt lamp, and a meditation sound generator. A 10 minute visit is really refreshing during a difficult day.

  36. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    My office had this when we were in person! It was a small office (~15 people with at least half working from home any given day) so we did use it both as a room for nursing parents and for relaxation, with nursing parents getting priority. The locking door was clutch. People used it mainly for naps and private conversations. I would occasionally bring in my guitar (electric with no amp) and play in there on my lunch break or between super-stressful meetings. We had a small fridge, a few comfortable couches and lots of outlets and the room was soundproofed. It was a much-loved amenity, to the point where hiring managers played it up in every interview I sat in on as one of the appealing parts of our culture.

  37. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    NewJob (where I started 6 months ago) has one. But Covid/WFH has made it kind of superfluous. They used to have twice-weekly yoga sessions with a trainer at noon, so they had yoga mats.

    But here’s what I’ve observed about it.

    1) Low lighting. Start with a low light level, and let people turn the lights nearly totally off.
    2) Soft, comfortable furniture – bean bag chairs.
    3) Away from noisy areas

  38. WonderWoman*

    My old office had a couple of sound proof phone booths that I made regular use of. It was so nice to be able to call my doctor, for example, without worrying that someone might overhear.

    Another office had a room I once visited when I came down with a sudden headache, and it was stocked with Tylenol, Advil, etc. There was a comfy chair where I could rest until I was ready to return to work. If I was very sick, I would of course have gone home, but it was nice to have a space for some downtime when I just had a headache. And, if I needed to go home, I might still have used it to rest before making the commute!

  39. MagnusArchivist*

    I’ve only ever worked in one place that had a “nap room'” (as we called it) and it was just a large supply closet with a chair, end table, and a cot. But oh, did we love it. People would actually use it to nap, no one ever monopolized it for too long. The door didn’t lock from the inside, but we did have an “in use” sign to hang on the door that everyone respected.

    I get migraines that prevent me from seeing/talking/working and so would use it when I suddenly got one at work and needed to go lie down in a dark, quiet room while my medication kicked in. If we didn’t have it, I would have had to make more snap decisions about “is this a power through migraine or a GO HOME RIGHT NOW migraine?” and would have taken a lot more half days.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      I once visited an office building which had just been built. It had two nap rooms which had specifically been added to the design, because they had several staff members with chronic migraines. This way they could go take their meds and lie down for a bit, which meant that they could often finish out the day instead of having to burn sick leave. I wanted to work there so badly.

  40. Wintermute*

    I’ve worked at a place that had these in all of of their facilities, and they saw regular, but infrequent use. It’s nice to have a place that isn’t your car if you need to make a sensitive phone call or one that can’t have a lot of background noise, among other things. The one at the call center got used mostly by people who needed a moment to compose themselves after a tough call (whether a rude/abusive caller or just an emotional call like a service disconnect for a deceased customer being called in by their child).

    The one in the ops center was used mostly when people needed a moment away from the floor, or to make a phone call, people also used it on breaks for meditating or just relaxing someplace quiet. It was also handy if someone needed to take some more involved medication (inject insulin, change a bandage/dressing on an injury, etc).

  41. H.Regalis*

    Had two versions of this at an old job:

    Pre-building remodel there was a room within the women’s staff bathroom (it was a huge bathroom) that had a lock on the door, low lighting, a cot with a pillow and a blanket, a lamp, and a nightstand. It was intended for moms who are pumping, but we didn’t have a lot of women who had young kids, so it was also a space to take a nap.

    Post-building remodel there is a room that is off of the break room that is for the same primary purpose. It’s kitted out the same, except that there’s a recliner instead of a cot, and it has a sink.

    It would be nice to have one room for pumping and one for a private space to relax, but I know that wasn’t feasible where I worked. People did use the room the pump, and people would also use the room to take a nap on their breaks if they were working a split shift or just hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep. It was also used by people who get migraines and in cases where someone started to feel sick (pre-COVID), but wanted to see if the feeling would pass before deciding to go home.

  42. SnowyRose*

    We’ve had have a wellness/nursing room for a while now and it’s worked well for us. Here is how ours is set up.

    Location and design: Centrally located but not located right next to any offices. There aren’t any windows or frosted glass, so plenty or privacy for those pumping and the ability to have a darkened room if needed. The door is a bit heavier than the other internal doors. The door also has a lock and it’s one of the ones that indicates if the room is occupied.

    Furniture and set-up: There is a small table and chairs as well as a armchair and footstool. We also had a counter and sink installed, plus a small fridge to store pumped breast milk. (Note: we kept the pumped milk in our own individual bags in the fridge) We did not permit medications to be stored in that fridge. Some soap, brushes, drying rack, and paper towels were provided.

    Management/Scheduling: An outlook calendar was set up and people can schedule time. This was really helpful because there were a couple years where we had quite a few pregnancies. There is someone designated to manage the calendar in case of conflicts, and I think it’s someone in HR. They didn’t have to do much, more of a just in case.

  43. This is a name, I guess*

    I often changed clothes in our rest/relaxation room, as did other staff. My coworker would change out of his bike clothes after his commute in. I used to go to a teeny little gym with limited bathroom space, so I would change into gym clothes sometimes before leaving. The office’s shared bathrooms were too much of a hassle to change in.

    I also used to do my hip PT stretches in there, which helped alleviate some of the desk soreness.

    So, I’d say: total privacy, carpeting, lock on the door, hooks on the walls, and maybe even a yoga mat or at least a standing mat.

  44. baseballfan*

    We have a “quiet room” which I like to refer to as the “nap room” but it’s not used for naps of course. I have used it several times when I was hit with a migraine and needed a few minutes to lie down and let my medicine start to work. I would go down and lie on a couch for 30 minutes or so and then feel better and get back to work. They also have a couple of massage chairs in there. It’s intended to be a quiet space so I would not make phone calls in there or do anything else that created noise. I’m not sure how widely it is used but I really like it.

    1. baseballfan*

      I should add that the room is somewhat large and not intended to necessarily be used by one person at a time, although I have personally never been in there when another person was there also.

      There are also entirely separate lactation rooms.

  45. Pocket Mouse*

    The one I’m familiar with is not for pumping, just relaxation/wellness. It has:
    -15 minute time limit, no calendar/scheduling system, intended for one person at a time
    -frosting/paper over glass to the outside
    -door that locks, along with a reminder to leave the door unlocked for the next person
    -reminder to keep the space clean and don’t eat or do work in there
    -small table, office chair, outlets
    -light nature-themes decorations
    -yoga mat and stretching booklet
    -white noise machine
    -smallish puzzles and a puzzle saver
    -crossword/sudoku/word search books
    -coloring books and colored pencils
    -magazines (e.g. cooking, gardening)
    -stress balls
    -sticky notes and pens for a board of affirmations and words of encouragement
    -notepad for feedback and suggestions

    This is in a small room that was repurposed during the pandemic, and I hope it lasts instead of being converted back to its prior function. It helps that it’s kind of an out-of-the-way space, with not a lot of foot traffic in the area. I don’t use it a ton but it’s lovely to swing by on impulse and put a few puzzle pieces together or do a word search, so I appreciate that it doesn’t have a calendar/scheduling system. There is another wellness offering in the office that does have a scheduling system, and people don’t use the system the way it’s intended to work. We have a separate room for pumping, with both a scheduling and access system to prevent others from cruising on in.

  46. I like to nap*

    My office has this – we have a daybed, yoga mats, meditation pillows and some random exercise equipment. It’s a small, windowless room with lights that dim and a lock. I’ve used it both for power napping (this seems to be the most common use) and pumping. We’re an office of about 40 and scheduling that room has never been an issue. The women who use it for pumping usually have a set schedule and everyone works around that. We found that giving pumping women mini fridges at their desks was better than keeping a mini fridge in this room.

  47. Six for the Truth*

    I used to work somewhere with a “relaxation room” that had comfy couches and video game consoles.

    I have no idea if it saw any business-hours use, but I worked night shifts and sometimes I’d nap on a couch from like 6am-7am when things were quiet.

    If you do set up scheduling and/or time limits, consider their potential impact on shift workers, if you have any.

  48. Not Your Admin*

    I don’t have any advice on what to do (but other commenters have provided brilliant insights). I can, however, tell you what NOT to do, based upon how the office I’m at handled it.

    We recently moved to new building the company erected this year, complete with “wellness room.” (Despite most of the company’s potentially pregnant employees working in this building, there’s no space designated for things like pumping. Just one of many, many oversights that come when a bunch of dudes plan out a building, but don’t consult any of the actual people using it on their needs. But the architects are proud of all their useless wall features and tiny, unusable, but “artistic” spaces, and that’s all that matters, right?)

    Things wrong the “wellness room:”

    -It’s literally just a reclining chair in a tiny box of a room. It looks like it was a storage closet that got converted last-second.

    -It doesn’t invite relaxation. There’s a weird modern art painting on the wall that more than one person has said looks like “blood and sh!t splatters,” and that’s it.

    -There’s no soundproofing. Did I mention it’s located right next to the busy break room/kitchen, staircase, and two electrical/plumbing maintenance rooms?

    -The door is solid, but the chair faces a clear glass wall running along the hallway! So, even if you try to relax in the chair, everyone walking by on their way to or from the kitchen or stairs can look in and stare at you.

    -Directly across the very narrow hallway is an executive conference room that also has glass walls. So while you’re trying to relax, you’ve got upper management and VIP visitors glaring at you from their meetings while you’re not working on company time. Also, with the fact that there’s no soundproofing, they might be glaring because you’re hearing a lot of policy talk you shouldn’t be privy to, or you’d be in the actual meeting.

    I have yet to see anyone actually use this room for anything except an overflow for the break room when they want to sit to eat lunch, but all the chairs are taken. (And I at least somewhat expect that’s the intention.)

      1. Not Your Admin*

        That’s the perfect way to describe pretty much everything that’s going on with this company (and not in a good way!)

  49. Sawbonz, MD*

    This sounds wonderful! Me, I’d be happy just to be able to go to the bathroom when I need to :)

    1. Not Your Admin*

      As a front desk drone who works 9 or 10 hours a day and gets no breaks for lunch or bathroom: THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  50. iamapatientgirl*

    My workplace (a 1.5 million square foot factory) had a Mother’s room up in the front office, which is bookable through Microsoft Outlook – had a comfy chair, a side table, plugs, a small refrigerator and a sink/counter. It was really a nice set up BUT several days per week while I was pumping I was in a training room clear on the opposite side of the factory – a 10 minute walk each way if you’re extremely fast – for the entire day so they actually had a Mamava pod brought in ( Which was great – the only issue I had with that was that there wasn’t a sink in it, but there was a fridge so I was able to bring a couple sets of connections each day to pump throughout the day.

    After we’d been in the factory for about a year they converted a conference room in that back corner to a prayer room – nice carpeting, calm decor and space for people to stash prayer rugs. But since it’s such a large building, people who weren’t super convenient to it started finding other niches to pray in – specifically the open areas around the staircases that lead to the mezzanines above the factory floor. While they aren’t quite as private, there isn’t a huge amount of traffic going up and down the stairs, and they have huge tinted windows so they are bright without being a fish bowl. So the facilities team ended up putting a place to stash rugs and jazzed it up a bit – basically adding to the area where people were already going.

    1. i forget my handle*

      I also mentioned the mamava pods elsewhere! I was thinking putting one in the room the OP has might be a good way to provide sufficient pumping space while also providing a general relaxation space outside the pod. They come in a bunch of sizes! But it looks like you might need to do some work to get a sink and fridge hooked up.

  51. Green tea*

    We have a nap/prayer/meditation room at work which is incredibly useful as (pre-Covid at least) we had a lot of international travel and jetlag could be an issue for employees returning from abroad.

    The room worked well because it had a :
    Book ahead system online, just like a conference room. Occasionally someone might use it without booking but that was very rare.
    Cozy windowless room with reclining chair and blankets so if you turn out the lights, it is quite dark
    Frosted glass door with a lock, so nobody could see inside or disturb someone sleeping/praying/meditating

    The room was also separate from our lactation rooms which I think is very important. No fridge or sink needed, and someone’s nap never prevents someone from being able to pump, or otherwise causing friction. I’d recommend rethinking that plan or it’s going to cause problems down the line.

  52. msk1024*

    My office had everyone in cubicles except VPs. They were quite comfortable with a good amount of room but no real privacy for phone calls. There were a good number of conference rooms that needed to be reserved, but what we also had were two small rooms that could be used on a first come/first serve basis. There was a small conference table in each, with four chairs and also a small sofa and two small easy chairs. They were good for impromptu meetings, private conversations, private phone calls (doctor, family, looking for another job, etc). They worked out very nicely. I don’t recall any drama over their use. They could not be used for breast pumping because they had a wall that was open to an atrium, but were used for just about any other use you’ve mentioned. Sometimes, it was nice to just take a moment to breathe with a closed door, though we also had some nice seating areas outside in good weather and seating in the atrium area to take a break.

  53. Uk reader*

    I worked somewhere with one and it had a long sofa which was perfect to lie on whilst I was heavily pregnant, particularly when I hadn’t felt the baby move in a bit and wanted to lie down and make sure all was okay. It had a glass door but was frosted, and had a vacant/occupied sign on. It also had some floor space and a prayer mat and was carefully positioned in the building to ensure the prayer mat could face east if required.

    We had a separate pumping space, which was actually a kitchenette room on a floor with all meeting rooms on (no offices so the kitchen wasn’t regularly used). It had a lock and blinds or frosted glass, I can’t remember which).

    It wasn’t regularly used and so we didn’t have to book to use it. I don’t think I ever used it for more than 20 minutes.

  54. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    Definitely, definitely, DEFINITLEY do not make the relax/recharge room the same as the nursing room! These are two separate things with totally separate functions. The last thing you need is people getting cranky because a nursing mom is “hogging” the relaxation room and, trust me, it will happen. If you have to pick one or the other, then just have a dedicated nursing room. In places where I have seen both done well, here are the amenities available:

    Nursing room:
    1. Sink
    2. Refrigerator
    3. Drying rack
    4. Power supply
    5. Dimmable lights
    6. Comfy recliner
    7. Lockable door

    -Nice to have-
    1. TV
    2. Sound system
    3. Individual storage lockers with keys/combo/badge locks

    Wellness/relaxation room
    1. Dimmable lights
    2. Comfy recliner(s)
    3. Yoga mats
    4. Soundproof
    5. Occupied/Unoccupied sign

    -Nice to have-
    1. TV
    2. Sound system
    3. Tea/coffee/water/snacks

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Oh, and for both:
      1. Disinfecting wipes
      2. Hand sanitizer
      3. Paper towels
      4. Tissue

    2. Elena*

      It’s a pretty big ask that an office which *just* got convinced to have a quiet room at all should also create a second entirely seperate pumping room to sit empty indefinitely. I don’t see how OP could realistically be expected to make that suggestion or have it be approved

  55. Purple Cat*

    In my office, the “mother’s rooms” CAN be booked in the calendar. This is hugely important especially if/when you have multiple moms that will be using it.

    We’ve also had “conversation rooms” which are small conference rooms for ~2 people that couldn’t be booked ahead of time, but were intended to provide spaces for quiet calls, conversations that couldn’t be done at your desk in our open-office environment.

    Trying to figure out how to make one space work for both functions is going to be challenging. I strongly suggest 2 different areas.

  56. Decidedly Me*

    My partner’s office has different spaces for those uses. There are a few small phone rooms on each floor for calls, a work out room for stretching/meditation, a separate space for pumping, and then a relaxation room. I think it’s really hard to combine those all into one room, especially the phone call one, since it’s counter to most of the other purposes.

    For the relaxation room specifically, it has a couch, comfy chairs, books, option for light music, and video games (it’s a gaming company). I hardly see people in there, but I’m not normally around the office during normal working hours, though the other spaces I’ve seen used frequently.

  57. CheesePlease*

    I know a lot of the comments are about the pumping room. Depending on the size of your company, making a “quiet” room that is pumping friendly for a future use case is fine rather than making it a pumping room now nobody will use right now. I say this as a working mother who pumps at work too!

    To me, an ideal quit room would include:
    – comfy chair
    – table / desk
    – dimmable lights
    – fridge
    – nice artwork / fake plants
    – room for a yoga mat / floor cushions
    – outlets
    – occupied sign on the door
    – online scheduling for 15 min amounts (pumping employees would be allowed to book 30-45 min as needed)

    1. CheesePlease*

      Edit to add: I would rather the company build a smaller pumping room (ours is a repurposed closet that is roughly the size of a cubicle – plenty of space for everything I need) in one area and then have a quiet room that can also be a “backup” pumping room in case there are multiple nursing mothers with conflicting schedules.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        My last office, probably because they were very pro-breastfeeding, was great with this. Each floor had 2 pumping rooms, for a total of 10 in the building, and one general wellness/quiet room that could be booked in advance. I never needed a nursing room and never planned to need one, but I really appreciated that my coworkers had them

  58. Daisy-dog*

    I had a room like this with a past employer and it was so useful. It wasn’t private, so it couldn’t be used for phone calls or nursing – we did have other spaces for that. It was dimly lit, had multiple options to sit or lay down, and was required to be quiet.

    We did have an issue with bedbugs though. It was determined that the source was people bringing blankets from home. They were able to get rid of the bedbugs from all the furniture except for massage chairs which were removed and never replaced.

  59. amcb13*

    If you’re adding furniture, give some thought to accessibility–can people of different heights/weights comfortably use whatever you put in? The things that come to mind immediately are the width of chairs with arms, the length of any furniture designed for lying down, and the sturdiness of any weight-bearing furniture. (Even if something is technically rated for a higher-than-average body weight, does it *seem* sturdy? No one wants to try to lie down on a cot with a migraine if the cot seems liable to dump them off or fold in on them.) I’m sure there are accessibility issues I’m not thinking of, what else should be considered along these lines?

    1. Fanny Price*

      A footrest! And a pillow that can be placed behind one’s back. The combination is helpful for short people in tall chairs.

  60. the_dude*

    In a former office of mine, it was a small unused office with no windows. The room could be locked from the inside. It had no windows, and when the light was off it was very dark. There was also a mini-fridge (the room doubled as our lactation room), an alarm clock, and a small table. The hum of the fridge honestly helped me nod off when I needed a power nap.

    You were supposed to reserve half an hour on Outlook, and people generally respected that policy. It was often possible to reserve the room 5 mins before you need it, but it was also normal to reserve it ahead of time or on a recurring schedule.

    We never had problems with people hogging the room, but probably because most people were oblivious to its existence. No one gave me a hard time using it; my bosses frequently used it themselves.

  61. HannahS*

    I agree with others on the infrastructure for nursing/pumping room (outlets, sink, fridge) but please include a internal lock, like a barrel bolt (can’t be opened by a key from the outside.) It is very uncomfortable to know that multiple people have keys to the room I use to pump, and often don’t knock before trying to come in. I much prefer the room with a barrel bolt!

    When thinking about the administration (booking space, drop in, etc.) of this room, think about the various uses. Right now, it sounds like a general “multipurpose” drop-in space. It’s a nice idea, but recall that people will use it for competing needs, and some of those you’ll need to legally accommodate. Think about what might happen when A needs the room to pump at 10:30 exactly, B needs the room to pray, C has a weekly virtual therapy appointment, D has a arthritis and needs a space to stretch, E is having a terrible day and just needs to meditate in silence for a moment, and F needs to do yoga while listening to music. If you find it overwhelming to look at that list and think about who gets priority (and there are legal considerations) then it might be worth the work to come up with a framework before opening it as a free-for-all. In my jurisdiction, A would get priority, and then D, if D had arranged formal accommodations. It may be different where you are, and it’s worth looking into.

    To be totally honest, speaking as a pumping mom, I think you’d need a separate nursing/pumping room. You really don’t want a situation where someone who is legally entitled to attend to what is frankly a pretty uncomfortable biological process needs to confront someone who wants the room to chill out in. I strongly dislike having to talk with ANYONE about pumping at work, and I’m among extremely practical, supportive, un-squeamish healthcare workers.

    1. HannahS*

      Oh, also, I know a lot of people are suggesting recliners, but its really nice to have the option of plugging my computer in and continuing to work. Otherwise, there’s an hour of pumping time that I need to make up when I get back to my desk, and that sucks. I pump sitting at a desk in a small office with a barrel lock.

  62. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    We have one room that is set up on our meeting room booking system as ‘non-work needs’ and people can book it for 30 minute sessions. Sometimes it’s a group booking (religious groups primarily), sometimes it’s a single person.

    Everyone can access the calendar and if someone has a time slot they particularly want then they’re encouraged to work out a compromise. The room has decent privacy, is large enough for 5 people to sit (there’s two sofas) and the lights can be dimmed in there. There’s a screen outside the door that shows the bookings for that day so you can easily see if it’s in use and if it’s free.

    There were a few hiccups when it was first set up – people trying to book it for 4 hours or a whole day, a bit of a fight between one religious group and another (it was over who gets priority – neither), someone booking it for 2 hours a day every day on a perpetual booking…but it’s running fine these days.

    Occasionally I use it. When I get close to a sensory overload meltdown it’s nice to be in a dark quiet room for a bit.

  63. anonymouse*

    This may be weird overkill, but maybe disposable paper covers for the big comfy chair. It’s one thing to sit on the same chair as the previous person, but to curl up and take a nap, it might be more pleasant all around to have a little divider between head sweat, nap drool, the usual.

    1. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      The general concept of the chair being cleanable is NOT overkill. TMI in most scenarios but breastmilk can, uh, spray. And spill, and drip. A wipedown or removable/washable cover would be great.

      1. Anonymouse*

        Oh wow. Wasn’t thinking of that but it reminds me: I was chilling at the end of my sister’s king size bed thirty years ago while she fed the baby…the baby moved…I got shot in the eye.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      Good point!

      I worked at a place with relaxation rooms, which was a nice idea … but a couple of the people who used them regularly had … let’s just say eccentric … approaches to hygiene and housekeeping and after they’d used them it wasn’t really a place anyone else wanted to stretch out in. The rooms took on a frat house feel and look/smell pretty quickly.

      So yes to chair covers but also be sure to budget for ongoing deep cleaning, more frequently than needed for normal workspace. Also a ventilation system or air purifier.

      And don’t allow food (pizza boxes, chip crumbs, the smell of everything pizza just add to the frat house vibe)

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Also, leather or faux leather surfaces are better that fabric for clean up purposes too

  64. PeopleAreWeird*

    I do not know your budget, but ours has one of those massage chairs with various settings, a dimmer switch onthe lights, and the soft hum of the servers in the next room.

  65. Temperance*

    We have one! It serves as a space to breastfeed/pump as well, but we also have separate, dedicated spaces for those.

    Our has a super comfortable chair that reclines, pillows, and blankets. When I’ve used it due to a migraine, I bring up my coat and use that as a pillow. I would improve it by adding a lamp that can be adjusted for brightness or a dimmer switch. I would also maybe add some crossword/suduko books and small fidget toys to make it a relaxing space for a break.

  66. Maggie*

    I’d rather the money just be spent on healthy snacks and drinks to enjoy than a room I’d have to book. Also I wouldn’t feel comfortable booking a room that was for nursing mothers because I’d feel bad if someone needed to pump and I was in there (like maybe they need to pump more than they thought or they missed their time due to work). So I’d feel bad.

  67. Hazelrae*

    I use a nebulizer and often had to use a nursing room or similar. One company o worked with tried to put me in a closet… chemicals and asthma worked so well. But, something to keep in mind. Sound proofing or sound reduction needs to be high on the list.

  68. Sam Yao*

    The one place I ever worked at that had a nap room/quiet room, it was a windowless space with the lights off or very dim lighting and a couple of couches to lie down on, and that was perfect for me. I was having a rough time with my mental health then, and being able to go in there and lie down in a dark quiet space and listen to a meditation podcast or something was GOLD.

    1. Sam Yao*

      (This space didn’t require booking. I think booking would have made it weird for me. I used it mainly over my lunch break and there was rarely more than one other person in there, if any.)

  69. Double A*

    I’m reading a book called “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel Pink. He talks about the body’s daily rhythms, and when it’s most effective to take breaks and what can be most effective to do on those breaks. I would highly recommend checking that book out, because it will give you ideas for the room, but also about what types of breaks and when you can encourage your staff to take. I think having some actual training for the staff on when to take breaks, what to do, and why would help them make most effective use of the space, and also create buy in that you’ll actually support their use of the space.

  70. Rae*

    I recommend a straight-back or other upright chair and also a reclining chair, like an IKEA rocker. I needed different postures and used both to relax and stretch in different positions.
    I pumped in a study room with a glass door and also in a storage closet. For the study room I made a light-weight curtain to cover glass and put it up and took it down each time by using velcro strips. For the storage closet, I posted the times I used it on the door and other folks were instructed not to enter during posted times. I think it was like 9:30-10, 12:15-12:45, 3-3:30?

  71. emmaX*

    As you have been clear that there is a single room and you have no nursing parents at the time, so the overlap between lactation and relaxation seems theoretical. You mentioned a sink might be possible and I think that is really important.

    Functional things: Labelled private storage for nursing gear; sink; counter; outlets
    Cozy things: comfy chair, table for holding punp, maybe a rug (we bought one of the those washable ruggable rugs and it works way better than I expected) take a book-leave a book suggested early sounds great, Narure art, mirror and/or large pleasant light .
    Optional: Storage for yoga maps; holders for phones if someone wants to follow an exercise routine; clock so ppl can easily see when their time is up; a bell or door knocker for a gentlier way to request entry; white noise machine ; signage in non-office font (label it Nursing/Relaxation Room); small dish of candy; water glasses
    Other; fridge-this may be useful for the nursing parents, but I suggest waiting until you have one before bringing in the fridge, otherwise it will be used for snacks. pamphlets for resources for health/safety/benfits etc…

  72. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    Make it as sound proof as can be. Have a lock on the door for privacy, but don’t make it so people have to go someplace to get the key. Perhaps a sign that shows it is in use? It should be open for everyone to use.

    It sounds like you are only going to have one, so you might have to do some sort of schedule. I have worked places that have these rooms but they had a separate one for nursing mothers and one that can be used for everyone. we actually had 2 “phone booths/relaxation room” and 1 room for nursing.

    I don’t think it was ever a problem. and I don’t remember anyone getting in trouble for using it to much.

    I think your biggest problem is going to be if a nursing mother needs it and someone is already in there. It should be known that it’s not a first come first serve type of thing but that if someone comes and knocks on the door and you’ve been in there for a bit you need to leave for the next person.

  73. Delta Delta*

    Any possibility of turning this room into 2 smaller rooms? Not perfect, and probably cramped, but it might solve the 2-room thoughts.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Now I’m reading all the things that would be ideal to have in a lactation room and I hereby rescind this comment.

  74. voluptuousfire*

    I’d suggest a comfy chair that’s made of leather or similar easy-to-clean material. Much easier to clean up quickly if someone spills something.

  75. Applesauced*

    I’m Architect with 10 years experience in commercial interiors, I’ve designed A LOT of Mother’s Rooms.

    If at all possible, the pump room (aka Mother’s Room) should be separate from the general relaxation room.

    An ideal Mother’s Room will have:
    a locking door with occupancy indicator, the ability to be reserved and scheduled (maybe even key access to only those who need the room), a comfortable chair, a side table, full length mirror, some countertop/cabinets with a sink, mini-fridge, microwave

  76. Yes please*

    We have a meditation room that has dimmable lights and cubbies to store prayer rugs. Mostly our Muslim employees use it to pray, but it’s also a great space to just sit for 15 minutes if you’re overwhelmed. Multiple people can use it simultaneously and there are some dividers you can go behind for privacy.

    If you want to use the same room for making phone calls and pumping breast milk, I’d have an “occupied” sign. I wouldn’t want to hear someone’s phone call while I’m trying to mediate/pray, nor would I want someone barging in on me while I’m pumping.

  77. SaffyTaffy*

    A Vacant/Occupied sliding thingy on the door, pillows on the floor, and the option of a full-spectrum lamp (that makes white light which mimics sunlight) are all popular features of our meditation/prayer/relaxation room.

  78. Sarra N. Dipity*

    Agree with what many people said above; this space should be specifically welcoming to Muslim coworkers for their scheduled prayers. I know that most Muslim folks these days have smartphone apps that will help them orient themselves towards Mecca from whatever location they’re at… but also I know that some office buildings have spotty cell service (and a visitor might not have connected to the office wifi, or some other issue may come up with their app not working), so a discreet arrow installed, pointing in the right direction might be welcome. I have seen this in hotel rooms in the past and thought it was a really thoughtful touch.

  79. Anne of Green Gables*

    I work at a community college and my department moves into a large new building next month. We have 3 designated “quiet rooms” in the building for employees or students to use for a wide variety of purposes, similar to OP. While I agree with everyone that a dedicated space for nursing/pumping is preferable, that’s not what we’ve got.

    We are creating guidelines for what the room can be used for, as well as some examples of what it should not be used for. You will have to book the room in increments of 30 minutes to get the key (remember, this isn’t just for staff, students will use it to) but you can book in the moment if it’s available. Our room is lockable from the inside and has a lock like an airplane bathroom so you can see from the outside that it is locked from the inside. There are no windows, including in the door. It has a sink, a counter, and a comfortable chair. We chose not to add a fridge as there is no good way to get back in for the milk, but every pumping mother I know (including me) carried a small cooler with them–and again, some things would potentially be different if our space was just for a few known employees.

  80. Lacey*

    I’ve had one job with that type of room. It had a couch, a sink, a mirror, and a microwave.

    I know sometimes people would use it to have a dark space to take a break in, but mostly it was empty.
    I sometimes ducked in there to adjust my outfit or makeup in privacy, rather than in our bustling restroom.

  81. Blah*

    We have this at my law firm. Sofa, blankie, mini-fridge, sink, counter, pics on the walls. People who pump get first priority for the room, but I’ve also gone in there when I was trying to push off a migraine and needed darkness and silence for 15 minutes. I know a guy who went in there to stretch his back out.

  82. RB*

    I don’t use ours because of a couple reasons: the scheduling requirement — I don’t know ahead of time when I’m going to feel the need to relax/recharge, so having to reserve ahead of time isn’t feasible. For me it’s more of a spontaneous need. I can see the reservation requirement being important for nursing mothers, though.
    Also, the lack of privacy. Ours has a window that faces onto a hallway, and even though the blinds can be let down, people can easily peek around them, so I don’t feel like I can completely relax. And for nursing moms, it’s not enough privacy, unless we were to paper over the window.

  83. EggyParm*

    We have a mediation room at our company. It’s really lovely and has the following:

    – Dimmable light switch
    – Two lamps
    – Two comfy chairs
    – 3 pouffy ottomans
    – Nice rug
    – A healthy assortment of plants (some hanging from the ceiling)
    – Foam roller
    – Yoga mat
    – A couple of tapestry wall hangings. It’s hard to make an office look like a meditation room so I appreciate that they put up the tapestries.
    – Sound machine with nature/whitenoise type sounds
    – A small bookshelf with some books about mediation, creativity, etc.

    It’s self-serve and only one time have I seen a guy “camp” in the room. He was a remote sales employee who thought it was a really nice conference room.

  84. Ann Onymous*

    A sharps container. I have type 1 diabetes and use an insulin pump. Changing my pump site requires unfastening and sometimes partially removing my pants, so I need a private location (and a bathroom isn’t sanitary enough). When I need to change my site during the work day, I use the lactation room in my building. It’d be really nice to have a sharps container there instead of having to carry my sharps to the bathroom where the sharps container is.

    Also, if this room is going to be used for nursing moms and other purposes, make sure it’s setup in a way that everyone gets enough privacy so that people of all genders feel comfortable using it. I’m female, so I’ve generally felt comfortable using the lactation room for my pump site changes, but I have a male coworker who’s also on an insulin pump and he doesn’t have any place to change his site at work, so he actually drives home every time he needs to do a site change during the work day.

  85. Flash Packet*

    We had one of these rooms at the last place I worked. During the time I was there, the room was booked three times a day for a nursing mother. The times were posted on the outside of the door.

    The room had a long couch with comfortable throw pillows and blankets, a coffee table, a mini fridge, blackout curtains for the windows, and a lock on the door that showed “Locked/Unlocked” on the outside so you could see at a glance if someone was in the room.

    It was worthless for making private calls because it was always occupied by the woman who needed to pump or by people taking cat naps / escaping the noise of an open floor plan.

    Thankfully, we also had small, one-person “phone booths” which were basically cubbies with a glass door, a shelf that operated as a desk, and an uncomfortable chair. They weren’t 100% soundproof but there was usually enough noise in the — ugh — open floor plan that you could get away with a hushed-voice call to the doctor and not have anyone overhear.

  86. Sara M*

    The best resources we had in ours were a stretching mat (generous size, not a yoga mat). And two squishy exercise balls.

    If I could have had more, I would have liked the room to be painted a pretty color with a simple peaceful mural/design on one wall.

    People definitely took naps, but so what? Have managers address any performance issues, and otherwise let them.

  87. Suprisingly ADHD*

    One suggestion: you should probably make it a scent-free room, especially if your office is not. Air fresheners, sprays, candles, and strong floral scents can trigger migraines, or worsen an existing one. I know lots of people like aromatherapy to relax, but (for example) an essential oil diffuser can be the difference between “I can work today if I take breaks” and “I’m vomiting and can’t see straight.”

  88. Xaraja*

    I worked at a call center that had a room like this, although it was not the pumping room. It had glass so it could be seen into from the hallway and big comfy oversized chairs. I used it extensively when I had migraines – I had an intermittent FMLA leave approved so I could log off the phones and go curl up in the room with the light off until my meds kicked in. The room was not exclusive to one person -often there were a few people in there on their breaks but people were fairly good about being quiet. It would not have worked for my needs to have to schedule use because migraines don’t come on a schedule! I have considered requesting they do something similar at my current job for the same reason, actually.

    Eventually at the call center they made a rule that the light could not be turned off in the quiet room because supposedly people were going in there to either make out or actually have sex. Yes, even though you could see into the room from the hallway and it was a busy call center with staggered breaks so people were always around. I don’t know that that was actually true, though, as I never saw anyone behaving inappropriately in the quiet room. I only experienced this as a problem for my migraines. Still… It is an issue to consider, that people may use the room in ways that are a problem to others, whether it is taking longer than their scheduled time, making a mess with food and drinks that they don’t clean up, breaking the furnishings, or NSFW activities. You’ll want to have a plan for how you’ll handle such things.

  89. middlemgmt*

    from a pumping perspective, a desk/chair and computer or way to plug in my laptop so that I can work if I want and have space to lay out all the equipment. An outlet that is close by or an extension cord/power strip (had to beg maintenance once for this). A small mini-fridge is nice, although the usefulness depends on whether the room will generally be locked or open and how many people would use it regularly. The ability to “book” a room in advance, for regular periods (my office uses the outlook meeting scheduling system, so we were able to reserve the room for specific times and easily coordinate if more than one person is pumping, as it needs to be done on a schedule).

  90. NancyDrew*

    OP, we have exactly this type of room in my current office — it’s called a meditation room and it has a couch, 1-2 comfy chairs (can’t remember, I’ve only been in it once), a couple of lamps, an exercise ball, a pretty rug, and beautiful tapestries on the walls (which is how the rest of our office is decorated, so it makes sense!). We’re small enough and hybrid enough that there’s never been an issue with a nursing person’s needs overlapping with someone else’s. There’s no sink, but as someone who pumped at work for two kids I never thought that was that huge a deal. (A nice bonus, but not a dealbreaker!)

    Surprisingly, we don’t have a signup sheet for it — and it is mostly empty at all times. That’s likely because we have a lot of other private spaces (multiple phone booths, conference rooms, and nooks) so people don’t need to use the meditation room for private phone calls.

  91. Ann O'Nemity*

    Please do not include an aromatherapy diffuser. It can be lovely and relaxing for some, but a deal breaker for those with scent sensitivity and/or migraines.

  92. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    Sound proofing, lockable, no windows or good shades/curtains and comfortable seating should be prioritized. Scheduling should be fluid with a caveat that in the future certain groups may be given priority as needed (nursing mothers, scheduled prayers) . Light control (dimmer), is also a pretty high priority if you want it available for relaxation.

    I think everything else might come under a “would be nice”. I say that because while it would be nice to have separate pumping room, sinks, fridge, storage, yoga mats, plants, etc. I have seen too many pumping rooms never completed at all because the list of must haves outpace the budget.

  93. Chicken Little*

    If and when you do have an employee who is pumping, it’s worth looking into renting a hospital-grade pump for a few months. The lactating employee can provide the bottles/tubes/bags/etc. (for comfort and sanitary reasons), but not having to lug a crappy travel pump around goes a long way!

  94. La Triviata*

    Might I also mention that there should be a requirement that people clean up after themselves, and provide cleaning supplies. There was a person mentioned earlier who resented the room being used for pumping who’d use the writer’s cleaning supplies, throw them away and so on.

    If you start off calling it something that will make it clear that any one nursing or pumping has priority (i.e. Mother’s Room or Lactation Room) it might prevent some resentment where a “relaxation room” that was giving those pumping or nursing priority might leave people feeling like they’d lost a perk. But there will always be jerks.

  95. Crying Is A Free Action*

    I work in office property management and we see a lot of these spaces in new builds. If you’re just setting aside space where an employee can close the door and take a call or meditate for 10 minutes, a small space with a comfy chair is about all you need. I’d also recommend making sure there is a lamp in the room so they can turn off the overhead light.

    For rooms intended to be used by nursing mothers, plan for more space and more amenities.

    Regardless of how you set up a signup plan, get one of those locks that shows when the room is vacant (unlocked) / in use (locked). That’s a game changer.

  96. Observer*

    Don’t plan on this room becoming your lactation room, because that WILL limit others’ ability to use it. And that frequently does not go well.

    Keep in mind that a lactation room is not just “nice to have”, it’s a requirement if you have women who want to nurse and open offices.

    1. Boof*

      I think it’s best to call it a lactation room so it’s clear who will get priority, but no reason to limit it if there’s not high use (in which case make another space for the other use). Kind of like handicap bathroom stalls
      If someone starts camping in the room address with that person the room is for everyone and they can’t take it over / need to limit their use and put it on the schedule when they need it if they have some specific need

  97. Beth*

    We have a comfortable sofa in the filing room, where people occasionally nap. Usually it’s my boss. I’ve used it occasionally when I’m fighting a migraine, and it sure beats lying on the floor.

  98. Mad Harry Crewe*

    At my last office, the wellness room was set up like a normal conference/call room location in the calendar, so you could book time there just like booking any other type of shared space. The culture was also very strongly towards booking the space you needed and sticking to that schedule, so this was an effective way to manage access.

    Ours had a really nice view (which you only have so much control over, but which was really pleasant), a couch, an acoustic guitar, some yoga mats and lysol wipes or something to wipe them off with (plus I think a note requesting that if you used one, you should wipe it down after). There were outlets and a minifridge, since it doubled as the pumping room.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Oh, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the guitar belonged to someone specific, like a manager or C-suite – I don’t think it’s at all necessary, but it was nice to see the first time I used the room.

  99. Mellynn the Conqueror*

    A previous employer has a quiet room – a place to go if you didn’t feel well or needed some privacy. It had a private bathroom and originally there was a sofa and a comfortable chair. There was no formal reservation system and the door stayed unlocked while unoccupied. They were pretty much on the honor system.

    Well, someone decided that it would be a good place to partake in “carnal activities” and proceeded to use it as a hook-up room. When the powers that be got wind of it that pretty much ended the honor system. They removed the sofa and chair and replaced them with a couple of folding chairs, and also locked the door, requiring a trip to the security office to ask for the key.

    If you’re going to have a quiet room, make sure you have some policies in place. After all, humans will be humans.

    1. Boof*

      Wow, kinda wish they punished the person with horrible judgement rather than everyone else!

  100. bopper*

    Breastfeeding room should be dedicated to that only…otherwise someone could camp in the private room on a conference call all day long and where else can the breastfeeding employee pump?

    If you say that it is a room for private conversations you need to have guidelines on how long you can stay in the room…people may say “Great! a private office!”

    my office has “telephone booth” rooms, small conference rooms (4 people) and some larger meeting rooms.

    1. bopper*

      Also I would question the other employees as to “use cases”… what do people actually want to do with such a room? We would ahve all these “lounges” in our office that are never used…you can’t eat there and we aren’t all going to sit around and drink and have coffee together. We also had ping pong tables and such but I never saw anyone using it. But we did meet in small meeting rooms or have coffee in the kitchen area.

      For your room would people actually meditate? take a private call? Pray (e.g., Muslims)?

  101. MissM*

    If there’s an option to make 2 smaller rooms of a largeish office (with soundproofing), that would be best. I think it would make things easier when you do have someone nursing. I’d also monitor the schedule/usage periodically to make sure that no one is camping out there because they think their desk is too noisy or whatever, and no one wants to make a fuss that they can’t use it when needed.
    Tbh, if open plan offices would bring back just a few old-fashioned phone booths with soundproofing, it would solve a lot of the need for these rooms. Just would like to make a call without having other’s phone conversations intrude into mine.

  102. i forget my handle*

    I’m curious – what are folks thoughts on putting a modular lactation pod (i.e. mamava pod, but there are a couple different types if you google it) inside this room. You should have a separate lactation space, but if you ONLY have this one room, that might be a way to make it meet multiple needs. I could also 100% be missing something though, as someone who has not had to breastfeed or pump.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think if you had a big enough area this would work. But if it’s just a small room or like a closet I don’t think both the pod and having a place to relax would work.

  103. Lemon Zinger*

    A previous employer of mine had relaxation rooms available. It was a nice thought, but they were right next to HR’s work area. It was not possible to discreetly step into one of the rooms; you had to walk past all of the HR staff (open office). The rooms weren’t soundproof and there were no white noise machines. You had to scan your work badge to get into any room in the office and it was rumored that HR kept track of who used the relaxation rooms, how often, and for how long. It was a sales environment, so perhaps this made sense from a performance standpoint, but it scared a lot of people off. If you truly want this to be a relaxing environment I would recommend being transparent with staff about whether usage will be tracked.

  104. WeAreTheJunimos*

    I work in a very busy hospital ER, and we have one of these we affectionately call “The Zen Den.” It was put together by our management in a vacant office so that employees had a spot to breathe and decompress after tough/sad things that came through. There’s a nice reclining chair in there, essential oil diffuser, some coloring pages/supplies, a small water fountain thing for a peaceful sound, and a Keurig plus pods. Over time, people started donating stuff to the Zen Den and now we have a nice massage gun and some yoga mats as well. We use as needed, so there’s no scheduling. We have a sign that we’re supposed to hang that lets people know that the space is in use, but we’ve been having a problem with people not putting the sign back so it looks like the space is in continuous use. So far, that’s been fixed with a reminder on the door.
    We also have a separate room for pumping, so this space is truly open to everyone when the need arises.

    1. Just a different redhead*

      But I had to ask because of your username…. Is there a giant Junimo plushie? ^_^

  105. Didi*

    My office has a wellness room. It has a refrigerator, sink and faucet, and a chair. My previous office had a reclining chair which was more helpful for relaxation.

    I’ve seen some comments that say that the wellness room might need to be separate from the pumping room, but honestly this was never a problem for my office. Most people don’t even know what the wellness room is for and we have other phone rooms/team rooms for making private calls or having short meetings.

  106. The Other Dawn*

    My previous builing at the current company has a mother’s room (I think that’s what they called it); however, people mostly used it as their little quiet space for making a call or just decompressing. Mainly because it had a comfy chaise lounge and it was painted in a muted color so it was soothing. They had to tell people that it’s for nursing moms only so they can use it for pumping.

    Anyway, I would say if you want a space where people can make private calls or just go to decompress, make it a room separate from a mother’s room if you have the space to spare. The biggest suggestion I have for that quiet room is make sure it actually gets cell reception. If that’s not possible, have a company phone that can be used for personal calls without issue. At the building I mentioned above, cell reception was terrible on that side of the building. Even in the conference room. And for some really strange reason, the company phone only had a speakerphone option. Who wants to make a private call on a speakerphone? Kind of defeats the purpose. Our only options were to use our company phone at our desk, or walk down a couple floors to the parking lot and either sit in our car or walk down the sidewalk away from the building. Walking down a couple floors was fine if you were making a call, but not so fine if you had to answer an unexpected personal call.

  107. Not that Karen*

    Puzzles! We always have a puzzle out at our office for people to stop by and work on when they need a break. Once it gets completed, someone will bring in a new one to start.

  108. Boof*

    I think if you make it a pumping room (minifridge, sink and counter, comfey chair and rolly desk – in the event of someone actually using it could consider renting a hospital grade pump that stays in the room even) – whiteboard on the door with pen (all magnetic is nice!) to make a note that someone is using it and for roughly how long. If actually seeing much use requiring privacy can add a schedule there.

    Consider having a water cooler (and keurig coffee/tea station if you want to go all out, but might want to put that outside the locking door)

    Consider a comfey couch big enough for people to catnap if they need to for some reason

    Consider a charging station if some kind (very lux but randomly useful)

  109. Michelle Smith*

    I don’t know how this is going to work logistically if you plan to use it as a nursing space. Is a new mom supposed to kick out someone on a personal phone call when she needs to use it? And how private will the space be if people can just come in and out whenever they want? Seems like you’ll need separate rooms, even if that means putting up a lockable divider between the phone call space and the nursing space.

  110. Jane.*

    I worked at a company that had these AND a separate mediation studio, and separate lactation rooms. I was only there for a few months on contract. I had a long commute and often took a short nap in the relaxation room. My desk happened to be near the room and I noticed…no one else ever seemed to use it, except for short phone calls. (It muffled sound but I could hear that someone was talking just not what they said.)

    Maybe you are thinking this is the kind of example of workplace culture Alison often mentions when topics like unlimited vacation time come up. But I don’t think anyone would have been judged at all for relaxing or napping! We had somewhat flexible hours and no one was interested in when we came and went. Long lunches were common, and people regularly left their desks for company sponsored yoga classes, long classes at a nearby (company-discounted) gym, or to walk or run laps on the company’s track.

    Dreamy, right? I thought so too and hoped to be hired for a permanent position, but the company got sold off for parts right as my contract ended. I believe it had everything to do with the industry (publishing) and not due to any of the above. As I find is usually true, the employees treated like adults with lives worked in a dedicated and professional manner.

  111. LP12*

    For pumping moms:
    Locking door + online scheduling
    Chair/recliner in a wipeable fabric
    Table with power strip

    For other general wellness:
    Lamp to avoid using harsh overhead lights
    Blood pressure machine
    Sharps disposal container

  112. Waving not Drowning*

    Another vote for a bookable room, and if that isn’t possible, a sign showing the room is occupied.

    I’ve recently left an organisation who moved into a new (for us) building, and we were shown the room deemed as both a prayer room and a breast pumping room, and it was NOT a bookable space, and there is no lock, or way of showing the room is in use, plus while it is on our floor, it is available for another organisation that shares the building. I left not long after, but I could see massive issues with that!

    They did however install some “superman phone booths”, soundproof in a few different areas, for personal calls, and one was a sit down style, so could be used for longer. None were bookable, but there were quite a few that could be used.

  113. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    OP you should really listen to all the people telling you that combining a breastfeeding space with a relaxation space won’t work. You cleary have very good intentions and I am impressed that you are reaching out to ask for guidance. It’s clear that people who pump will be harmed if the room has multiple purposes, even more so if none of your current employees pump. I am a women who has not breastfed, so I defer to those who did/do in all matters. Some things I have to add on why sole use of the room is important:
    Contractors, vendors, clients and other visitors might also need to pump. Also maybe a job applicant doing a series of interviews that may last many hours.
    You can’t tell by looking who is able to lactate. Some adoptive and potential adoptive parents induce lactation and some people with breasts are now working to lactate again to donate breastmilk during the baby formula crises. A big part of the protocol is pumping.
    Having or not having a dedicated lactation space will be noticed by job applicants and current/potential clients. If I was in one of those categories, I would be impressed and that would factor into my decision.
    Imagine a future breast milk pumping employee who goes to pump but their boss or a senior executive is doing yoga, on a phone call, firing someone, reclining in the dark due to a migraine. It would be really hard for that person to tell them they need to leave the room. I think the need to pump is not always, predictable, especially early on. Problems with accessability could also skirt the law on the requirements.
    I hope you are not feeling piled on. You are a good person trying to do the right thing and create something nice for your colleagues. It has got to be hard for so many people tell you it’s wrong to create a shared space for a hypothetical.

    1. Shallow Sky*

      If they let it sit vacant for a year or more in the name of leaving it open for hypothetical breastfeeding visitors, which it will from their description, it’s almost certainly going to get turned into something much less useful than a lactation room. I think turning it into a general “quiet room, pumping/breastfeeding users get priority” is more likely to make it available to those pumping/breastfeeding users than telling everyone there’s a nice cozy room that no one’s allowed to use for the next year-plus.

      (I do sympathize with the issues with kicking people out – the place my dad works resorted to making people register as needing to pump/breastfeed, and only people who are appropriately registered as nursing parents and the cleaning staff can swipe into the nursing rooms. Otherwise people were stealing them for meetings. But there are ways of dealing with that other than letting it gather dust for a year.)

  114. coldfeets*

    Place to nap, soft tissues, a sink, and a mirror (longer the better).

    At a previous job I had to work long hours, but was not required to be working the whole time. Having somewhere to nap (or lie down and rest) helped me get through the long days way more than an extended lunch break.

    We also called our relaxation room “the crying room” (it wasn’t a great workplace). Having somewhere to cry where people wouldn’t hear you, and you could clean up and make yourself presentable after was a drastic improvement over the old system (try to cry silently in a toilet cubicle and hope no one saw your puffy face after). Even in non-toxic workplaces, a space where you can have a private moment is really helpful. Sometimes people get bad news in the middle of the work day, or get overwhelmed by one thing too many on their plate.

    The booking system should be easy to find, and easy to use. It would also be great to have a tablet or something in the room with the booking system on it, so if people need it on short notice they can book it once they’re in there, or see how long they have before the next booking.

    Maybe lockers for staff who pump/use the room for medical reasons?

  115. HappytobeWorkerBee*

    We have one room dedicated for nursing mothers. It has a keypad and an occupied/vacant sign and no windows. It is in an area where there is not a lot of foot traffic. This layout was arranged after some experimentation; when there was no keypad, people ended up in there napping and the mothers had nowhere else to go. Mothers book the room via calendar and are sent the code via meeting acceptance. We ended up creating a separate room for relaxation/prayer.

  116. A Dog Named Bev*

    We had one at a former organization and it was a room off the main hallway with a recliner, mini fridge and white noise machine. It served as our pumping room and relaxation room, but it was always a little vague on how to book it, etc. I used it once for a migraine break and while the room was completely blacked out (no windows and a small lamp), it made my headache worse since a sliver of light from under the door paired with whooshing white noise made me feel like I was in an unlit elevator. Whenever people would pass it would flash their foot shadows/take me to another mental floor in the never-ending skyscraper. Definitely invest in those wind guard things for under the door if black out is a goal!

  117. Spicy Tuna*

    I am chiming in super late on this one, so not sure if anyone is still reading these comments, however! My last job arranged to have yoga at the office 2x per week. One day during lunch and one day after 5PM.

    I want nothing to do with yoga, so I ignored this benefit. I was good friends with the HR director and he told me that HR was keeping the sign in sheets (ostensibly so they would know if this benefit was being used enough to justify the expense) in order to know who to lay off in the future if it was needed. As in, if you had enough free time for yoga, you didn’t have enough work and were expendable.


  118. Suzy*

    How about a timer or a reminder sign for people to set a timer. A 10 minute nap sounds lovely and refreshing. A ten minute nap that turns into a hour long deep sleep isn’t as refreshing.

  119. Anonymom*

    Nursing mom here! Please include:
    An electrical outlet
    A trash can
    A fridge or mini fridge (my current work has one and it’s amaaaaazing to not have to schlep pump parts and mail across the floor)
    Storage cubbies so we can keep our pump in the room (doesn’t have to lock unless you think security is an issue)
    A sink is nice but not required
    A desk or desk-height table and chair (I work while I pump and need a spot for my laptop. This is much better than an armchair or something.)

  120. Anonymom*

    I can’t stress this enough: if your job requires work on computers, make a place for pumping moms to WORK and pump at the same time!! We need a regular chair, a desk, a power strip or computer, etc. You cannot work and pump from a comfy chair, and we lose so much time pumping that it’s annoying to NOT be able to work at the same time. Comfy chairs are nice for relaxing or napping, but most of the time that’s not what we’re doing! Instead we’re desperately trying to make our schedules work. For lactation, set up the room like a regular workspace that happens to be private. (Also with a fridge and cubbies!)

  121. Jenny D*

    I’m in Sweden, where businesses are required by a legally binding regulation to have a relaxation/nap room for employees except if the place has “only a few” employees. The regulation says that the room must be furnished so that it’s possible to lie down and rest.

    In most places I’ve worked, that means either a large sofa or a small bed. If the latter, there’s often a comfortable chair too.

    I’ve used it when I’ve had a migraine, and sometimes when I’ve worked late and still needed to be back early.

    Lactation rooms isn’t really a thing here; parents who breast feed will generally be on parental leave until the baby is weaned.

  122. XSH*

    We had one at the firm I used to work at and it was CRUCIAL. Spent a lot of time during my lunch breaks there to unwind. Absolutely have a lock on the inside of the door (no keys).

    Some must-haves:
    -a vinyl/vegan leather extendable chair that goes all the way out so someone could essentially lie down. They make some that look more work-appropriate than a lazy boy. These are so much more comfortable than loveseats. And you can get some gentle lavender disinfecting wipes to put out (method, honest make them).
    -a box of tissues (and hand sanitizer)
    -white noise machine (or a noisy air purifier)

    Other nice touches:
    -electric tea kettle / herbal teas
    -dimmer on the lights
    -mini frigidaire fridge with seltzer water / and one for milk
    -prayer rug rolled standing up in the corner (not used as a rug where people put their feet)

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