Creating a work space where all your employees can thrive is so important. Physical barriers to accessibility are often well understood, but challenges from neurodiversity less so.
Here we explore neurodiversity in the workplace and practical advice on how to design a comfortable and successful workspace with it in mind.
What does neurodiversity mean?
Neurodiversity is the idea that human brains encompass a huge range of variations. These differences effect the way people learn, concentrate, process information and more.
Conditions often included under the term are Autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and more.
Neurodiversity is a combination of traits that are seen as both strengths and challenges.
What is the impact of neurodiversity in the workplace?
A lack of awareness of neurodiversity and it’s impacts often means that everything from the hiring processes, management practices to workplace design are planned with only neurotypicals in mind. For example, the trend of open plan offices has benefits in terms of socialising and collaboration. Howwever, for those with sensory sensitivities, these spaces can be difficult.
Neurodiverse traits are often ‘invisible’ or hidden, which means any difficulties experienced may be misunderstood or dismissed entirely.
Although neurodviersity brings challenges to the workplace, forward thinking employers are embracing the benefits diversity of thinking brings to their business. There is no ‘standard brain’!
‘Neurodiversity is moving up the organisation agenda for two reasons. With the business case for diversity as a whole now accepted, organisations aiming to be truly inclusive employers cannot exclude such a significant demographic as the neurodivergent. To continue doing so risks missing out on talent, and compromising on productivity and customer trust. More pertinently, the business case for diversity has highlighted the importance of ‘diversity of thought’ – get people with different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences in a room, and your team will be more innovative and creative.’
How to design with neurodiversity in mind
Training and awareness are important for all staff members – diversity and inclusion benefit everyone!
This blog post shares personal experience and some top tips on adjustments that can be made, including sensory adaptations and quiet spaces.
Below we’ve shared some design ideas for creating a more inclusive workspace.
Use common elements to create a rhythm in a space. Focal points can create familiarity, such as a staircase, storage wall or artwork.
Dividers are useful to create separate space and quiet working zones.
Offer an assortment of settings, so that workers can pick which is most appropriate for their task. This could include shared social spaces, quiet areas or specific phone booths or meeting rooms. Clearly signpost these.
Lighting, colour, pattern, materials and smells should be taken into account. These might be over stimulating to some with neurodiversity.
If you’d like some advice on creating a more inclusive workspace, please send us a message or give us a call on 0330 332 0880 to see how we can help.