Since its inception in the 1990s, the neurodiversity movement has expanded into various corners of the world and today, workplaces are gradually starting to embrace neurodiverse employment as they uncover the true meaning of neurodiversity.
This awareness has made it possible for many workplaces to help neurodiverse employees voice their perspectives and use their strengths to create more value and acceptance in the workplace
Today, many understand that neurodiversity means that the human brain doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all package that we interpret as being ‘normal’. These employees have different ways of thinking, learning, paying attention, and a host of other mental functions that make them stand out in a way that perhaps a neurotypical employee may not be able to.
While eliminating discrimination, bias, and flawed recruitment methods that overlook the talents and skills of neurodiverse talent, there are also drawbacks in the work environment itself that can impact their ability to work to their full potential.
how workplace drawbacks are impacting neurodiverse talent
The problem with many office environments is that they’re designed to be overwhelming for neurodiverse employees, which can have negative effects on their ability to work to the best of their abilities.
Modern workspace designs are challenging for many as excessive noises that come with open-plan offices can create an unfavourable space for those who need a calm and quiet space to carry out their work. In the case of neurodiverse employment, you’ll find that these employees have neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, and autism, which means that workplaces with an excessive amount of noise can hinder their ability to perform.
One of the many characteristics of neurodiverse individuals is that they’re hyper- or under-stimulated by their environments which include lighting, smells, noise, texture, and even temperature that can cause problems in their ability to focus, learn, and be productive.
what to consider when designing workplaces to support neurodiversity
Here are some ways that you can reduce or eliminate the challenges that hinder neurodiverse employment.
- Spatial design: Create workspaces that offer a sense of order. Establish focal points, whether it’s a landmark or some type of artwork that can help employees orient themselves
- Spatial character: Many workplaces offer one type of workspace setting for their employees, such as shared open spaces based on emerging trends. Ideally, you should have different spaces that focus on different outcomes including places to hit pause, quiet areas, dedicated meeting spaces, and enclosed spaces with minimal or no stimulation from outside for those who need to focus
- Acoustics: Autistic employees are often stimulated by acoustics so having a space that allows for acoustic separation can help
- Lighting: Having access to adequate daylight is important and so is having dimly lit spaces that can be more relaxing for those with sensory challenges
- Temperature: If possible, offer temperature controls that each person can control and adjust according to their preference
- Stimulation: When designing your workspace, use symmetrical and predictable patterns to help neurodiverse employees manage and navigate their surroundings.
why adjusting workspaces for neurodiversity is critical
20% of neurodiverse employees report that they aren’t able to concentrate at work. This means that a significant cross-section of the UK workforce is missing out on their neurodiverse employees’ peak performance.
Organisations trying to accommodate neurodiverse employees may also be creating unfavourable working conditions purely due to a lack of knowledge on the subject matter and awareness about neurodiversity.
With 65% of neurodiverse employees fearing that they could face discrimination despite UK workplaces promoting neurodiversity, it’s important that workplaces make more of an effort to build awareness about their neurodiversity initiatives and how they’re actively working towards creating workspaces that are rooted in equality.
final thoughts on neurodiverse employment from Kinhub
Fostering a neurodiverse workspace that addresses and overcomes the many drawbacks that are impacting neurodiverse employment is important. And with neurodiversity in the workplace taking on a more prominent role, especially in a landscape where equity and equality are at the top of the corporate agenda, it’s important to start listening to neurodiverse employees and create a safe and supportive space that champions the different skills and talents each individual brings to the table.