Workspaces that work for everyone: neurodivergence and office design
An increasingly representative workforce means our workspaces need to change too.
With more understanding of neurodivergence in the workplace and with people feeling more comfortable talking about their needs, creating environments in which everyone can thrive is a priority.
High-profile names like Elon Musk, Greta Thunberg and Steve Jobs have helped to not only raise awareness of neurodivergence, but break down barriers about any perceived limitations of their abilities. In fact, the value and skills neurodiverse individuals can bring to a workforce are significant and should be embraced.
Attributes including memory skills, mathematics and identifying patterns are proven positives. However, the potential feelings of overwhelm, sensory overload and distraction that are associated with ‘traditional’ office environments are considered to stifle and impede the ability for some people to work effectively and need to be reconsidered. Greater understanding of neurodiversity has lead to an increase in diagnosis. In turn, this has meant a shift in businesses giving more consideration to how environmental factors can work against those with a diverse range of needs. Now is the time for organisations to think about the ways they can make reasonable adjustments to ensure individuals are comfortable applying, staying, and thriving in your business.
Accommodating and inclusive design
But, knowing where to start can be a challenge if it’s an area your organisation is just beginning to explore. The recent ASD diagnosis my son received has meant that I’m now starting to learn and understand more. Perhaps your business has implemented changes but isn’t sure how to keep moving forward to the next level? Whatever stage you’re at we have the range of services and expertise to help businesses make adjustments to create an environment that will help attract and retain neurodivergent people.
The scope of what is considered neurodiversity is probably greater than most might assume. So, while conditions like autism and ADHD are those that people automatically think of, dyslexia, Aspergers and dyspraxia also come under the umbrella. This means the impacts are wider reaching too. Previously, while an organisation might have made provision for a different type of work station set-up, there are a growing number of other areas that need to be assessed so that wellbeing and performance aren’t jeopardised. These can range from the different ways people learn and absorb information, how people communicate with others, to potential light and noise aversion.
Understanding these different challenges should be the starting point for any changes to be made. It’s important for organisations to also realise that neurodiversity is a spectrum disorder, so one person who has ADHD won’t have the same experience as another. This means that each employee’s needs, and any subsequent accommodations, should be made based on them as an individual, rather than solely their condition.
By creating a workplace, and culture, that meets the varying needs of neurodiverse employees, organisations will not only benefit from their very specific talents and skills but also from a more inclusive, diverse workforce. In our own business, it’s something we’re focused on and how we can adjust to ensure we’re as inclusive as possible.
Meeting your employee’s needs
It’s important to acknowledge this is a shift away from standard working practices, and while most accommodations are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement, it is a shift nonetheless. Ensuring your whole team understands why it’s happening and the benefits the changes can bring will help aid any transition.
Needs can change over time too, so making sure there is ongoing assessment, and the associated adjustments made, will support the ongoing career development of your neurodivergent employees. It’s all well and good if an individual feels like their needs are met when they join, but if that’s not something that is then followed through, there’s a risk they may struggle in their role and it could result in them leaving.
As a multi-disciplinary business, we’re able to bring together the skills of our teams to help provide the solution that best suits the individual needs of your neurodivergent employees. Incorporating elements of workplace design, smart technology and print, we’ll provide the expertise and advice for your organisation that will have an impact now and in the future.
Here are some of the different areas where consideration can be given to workplace adaptations and accommodations.
To date, the relatively untapped pool of neurodivergent talent, given the right support and reasonable accommodations, can use their unique strengths and perspectives to offer huge long term benefits for organisations.
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Other areas of interest
We offer more than just software support: our specialists are here to maximise the potential of your business, enhance efficiency, and create a smarter, safer business environment for you.
By analysing your business structure, your culture and the people that work for you, we’re able to elevate your workspace into something seen as a destination, not an obligation.
An office space is more than just bricks and mortar, it should reflect your culture and be a place staff can thrive and enjoy being in. Our collaborative approach means that we design spaces that best reflect what your team needs.
Our expert project managers will be on hand every step of the way, working in parallel with you, to ensure your vision becomes a reality and your brief is met on time and within budget.