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May 3, 2018

Microsoft added 200 mother-baby rooms

Photo by Lara Swimmer Photography [enlarge]
B+H Architects said it worked with mothers at Microsoft to design the rooms, which help recruit and retain workers.

Microsoft has added about 200 rooms at its Pacific Northwest locations where mothers can pump breast milk for their babies.

The Seattle office of B+H Architects said it worked with mothers at Microsoft to understand how it feels to return to work and be away from their babies.

That input helped B+H to develop five design themes for the rooms: escape, immerse, refresh, balance and reflect.

Each theme has different finishes, wallpaper and paint colors that contractors use.

B+H said Microsoft wants to ease the transition for women returning to the workforce. It said the mother-baby rooms are an important asset in recruiting and retaining people.

Laura Libby, an interior designer and B+H's newest working mother, worked on the Microsoft rooms, and also is designing a mother-baby suite with four rooms at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

For the Microsoft project, Libby said B+H talked to moms who said the company was not providing enough mother-baby rooms. Some said the existing rooms felt “medical,” and also that the rooms needed to accommodate women who wanted to relax as well as those who needed to continue to work.

The new rooms have ergonomic lounge chairs as well as desks, so “you have the choice to either work or not work while pumping,” Libby said. They have a residential feel, with wallpaper and soft lighting.

The rooms also have refrigerators and freezers for storing milk, as well as lockers, sinks and medical-grade pumps.

Libby said that even if a business does not have the resources to build these rooms, it should provide a dedicated private space for mothers to pump. A business with over 50 employees is required to do so by law, “and it can't be a restroom,” she said.

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