Designing an inclusive workplace that accommodates different personalities and working types as well as neurodiversity is becoming a priority for businesses. Paying attention to details when re-arranging or designing an office from scratch is paying off in ways of reputational enhancement, productivity, creativity, and quality improvement as well as a broad increase in employee engagement.
Some employers may not fully understand the complex challenges their employees with different work styles may face in an open office, let alone their neurodivergent employees. The overall view is that those companies that can create balanced, inclusive workplaces will have a positive impact not only on staff wellbeing but productivity as well.
What is neurodiversity?
“Neurodiversity” is an umbrella term for people who have a variety of conditions which causes them to think, act and create in a non-typical way. Someone who is neurodivergent may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, dyslexia and Tourette syndrome or other conditions. Personality types, such as Introvert, Extrovert and Ambivert, do not qualify as neurodiverse. While these personality types will have their working preferences and traits, it is important to distinguish that neurodiversity goes beyond social behaviours – office design and fit-out company, Oktra points out.
Creating an inclusive workspace
Creating an inclusive workspace requires considering different personality types and working preferences along with neurodivergent workers. By analysing how people work, it is possible to attribute certain spaces to different working types. Having a selection of workspaces is a generic rule that applies to all workplaces to help people achieve their maximum productivity levels. If the environment doesn’t respond to people and how they like to work, it will be an uphill struggle for companies that want to attract more staff back into the office.
What is your working type?
Data-orientated workers use a logical and analytical approach in their work. They are best suited to quiet spaces. In any office, there should be dedicated areas that allow people to escape the main working areas and concentrate on more challenging tasks. There should be an option for an area to sit quietly and think between meetings, as well as a dedicated space for highly focused work.
Detail-orientated workers prefer organised and structured planning to tackle problems and meet deadlines. They thrive in a traditional environment with a task chair and desk. These workers will tend to avoid the more casual environments unless when they are working with others as part of a group. Having a wide range of meeting rooms which provide different tools, technology and commitment will enable detail-orientated workers to work in spaces that benefit their productivity.
Workers that are more emotionally, or socially driven require dedicated space for collaboration and interaction. Establishing a connection with the wider working community is a defining feature of an emotionally orientated worker as they typically benefit from other people and respond to the energy of the people around them. These workers tend to move towards open, louder workspaces where they can speak with others and work as a team rather than be tucked away in a quiet setting.
Idea-orientated workers need more agile and open spaces to embrace their creativity as they need the freedom to move around and innovate. Multifunctional spaces like booths, height-adjustable desks and informal workspaces allow for movement and a choice between settings which allows workers to select their workspace based on the task at hand.
Neurodiversity in the workplace
Designing a workplace which supports neurodiverse workers can be achieved by making considerate, intelligent changes as the types of spaces don’t necessarily need to be that different to accommodate neurodivergent staff. Including headphones in meeting rooms to help prevent sensory overload or manually adjustable light controls are two quite simple adjustments which can transform an environment.