Work environments, like many other settings, have always been designed with neurotypical people in mind, and although the company culture may be inclusive towards neurodivergent people, the workspace around them typically isn’t.
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work, interpret, and process information.
Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects. However, it’s estimated that around one in seven people (more than 15% of people in the UK) are neurodivergent, meaning that the brain functions, learns and processes information differently.
*Neurodiversity | Local Government Association. https://www.local.gov.uk/lga-libdem-group/our-press-releases/neurodiversity
CHALLENGES NEURODIVERGENTS FACE IN THE WORKPLACE:
One of the most significant hurdles that the neurodivergent community faces in the workplace is that neurodiversity still isn’t included in the majority of businesses' diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies.
Loud noises and hustle and bustle make it hard to focus and concentrate at work.
2. Sensory Stimulation
For neurodivergent people, sensory cues can be overwhelming. Having a space where you can control the sensory stimulation is important.
Many people with neurodivergent conditions need and thrive on repetition, predictability, and clear boundaries to feel safe, comfortable and in control.
Workspaces are increasingly becoming more understanding of people, cultures, and differences, but neurotypicals often have little knowledge as to how neurodivergent minds best work in an office setting, and can’t always understand what they need out of a workspace.
HOW TO CREATE AND DESIGN INCLUSIVE WORKSPACES
How we design space can have a profound impact on the people who occupy and experience it on a daily basis.
Having a space where there is more to it than meets the eye can make people feel more engaged and eager to move through the space while still keeping it easy to navigate.
If the proportions or scale of a space are unbalanced, it can create anxiety. Ceiling heights and room proportions are critical to creating a comfortable space.
Colour can influence mood and impact performance and productivity. Bright and light pastel tones can create a more positive and calming effect.
Light can intensify the mood, both positive and negative. Turning down the lights or using natural light, can boost productivity.
Predictable patterns help us to understand, manage and navigate spaces. Geometric shapes help to create balance and calm in the workplace.
Soft seating such as dens, pods and sofas provide an extra level of comfort and familiarity.
It is an employer's responsibility to support their employees, change the narrative around neurodiversity and inclusivity within the workplace and work towards creating a comfortable environment for all to be able to thrive.
A neurodiverse workplace can also offer businesses a competitive advantage; not only will employees feel more comfortable and more productive in their space, but it will also help businesses to be able to attract and retain the best talent around.