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How Can Office Design Support Neurodiversity?

In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in workspaces that need to embrace and implement strategies that benefit neurodiverse employees.

It has been found that 10% of the population suffer from neurodiverse conditions and now it is becoming important that they feel comfortable and accommodated in their working environment.

In this blog we will explore ways to create an inclusive and affirmative workspace that caters for those neurodiverse employees.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is a framework which means that everyone’s brain functions individually and everyone copes with everything in different ways. Having people in the workspace that literally think differently gives a new perspective on work and a new set of eyes. They inhibit great focus, and they can be incredibly creative and intense, having a benefit to the business as they have a huge intent for success. Those with sensory issues and struggle to deal with being in a complex environment, it is crucial that they feel tranquil and at ease in the place of work.

How Can Office Design Affect Neurodiversity?

One way to help support neurodiversity is through and there are plenty of ways to do so:

Taking into consideration sensory issues

Many neurodiverse employees are sensitive to bright lights, loud noises, and unusual smells. It can really impact productivity and workload. Incorporating these within the can have a huge impact:

  1. Adjustable lighting: Providing lighting that can be controlled allows employees to have their environment how they want and allows them to feel comfortable.
  2. Acoustics: Implementing acoustic panels into the office design means they absorb any unwanted and ambient noise. However, if this is not enough having noise-cancelling headphones to offer can also help for those who are tender to sound.
  3. Scents: Being in a workplace that have a lot of strange smells can be overwhelming. Ranging from cleaning products to strong perfumes, it can be a lot to take in. To avoid this, opting for products that are scent-free takes away the feeling of been submerged and removes any anxiety for neurodivergent employees.

Flexible Workstations

Having a contemporary and modern office may not always be the way forward for everyone – and it won’t work for everyone. This is where being flexible and creating a diverse workplace is fundamental.

  1. Range of Workspaces: Having a range of areas in the office that offer different variations on workspaces allows employees to choose a space that fits best to their needs. This can include standing desks, office booths or specific quiet zones. It creates diversity for all the neurodiverse individuals as they can choose where they best work.
  2. Office Booths: Being in an open plan office space can often become overwhelming with conversations going on to the phone ringing – it can all get too much. Office booths are great for any employees that need space to regain their focus.
  3. Sensory Breakout Area: These spaces are specifically designed for neurodiverse individuals. They contain comfortable seating, sensory fidget items, stress relievers which allow employees to take time away without leaving the office fully to relax and retreat due to overstimulation.

Clear communication & Visuals

Being able to communicate in the office effectively is highly important for all employees to do their job well and feel happy. However, for neurodiverse individuals, communication can be a struggle so encouraging different communication strategies can make a huge difference.

  1. Visual Signage: Having visual signs to help navigation around the office for those that struggle with communication can be a huge relief. They can locate departments and facilities much easier without having to break out of their comfort zone.
  2. Written Instructions: Some individuals cannot comprehend mass amounts of information in a short space of time and often find this overwhelming. Written communication can massively reduce the pressure and anxiety of having to take it all in at once.

How to Support Neurodiverse Individuals in the Office?

Having an inclusive and broad work environment doesn’t just mean the physical assets of an office space. Ensuring that all the employees are supportive and understand the impact of being neurodiverse will help too. So here are some ways to make sure that the office culture creates a thoughtful and encouraging environment:

  1. Educate: Raising awareness about neurodiversity is crucial and it will be to the majority of the employees. Gaining an understanding of the impact of being a neurodiverse individual needs to be understood by everyone, they need to know the problems they can come across and what they can do to help to make the work environment a more accommodating and inclusive place to work.
  2. Communicate: It’s also key to allow people to express what they need to and how they work best. Having open conversations about working ways allows employees to feel safe and that their opinions are heard and valued.
  3. Be Flexible: It is unrealistic to have a set standard for everyone and wanting everyone to work the same way. People differ, which benefits businesses but this means all employees won’t go by the same routine. So, allowing people to change the way they work makes them feel more reassured and relaxed.

In summary, office design plays a crucial role in fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for neurodiverse individuals. Incorporating different breakout areas and workspaces will enhance the well-being and productivity of these employees. So contact us today so we can help you widen your office culture within the work environment.