Articles and Trends

Business Owners: Neurodiversity is the New Buzz in Office Design

Modern businesses need diversity among employees. But what about the less commonly discussed need for neurodiversity?

According to the National Symposium on Neurodiversity, “neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation; these differences can include those labeled with dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, autism spectrum disorder, Tourette syndrome, and others.”

But to create a neurodiverse workplace, the first step is to design your workplace with neurodiversity in mind. If you want to invite people who think differently to come work for your company, you also need to think differently when it comes to the layout of your office.

“Universal Design”

Those who are neurodiverse are on both sides of the spectrum—either intellectually challenged  or intellectually advanced. This can make it seem difficult to design with both types of people in mind. But instead of focusing on each specific type of person, just remember the concept of “universal design.”

Are you ready and willing to create an environment that fosters innovation across your entire team?

Universal design is the idea that environments should be composed in such a way that they can be accessed, understood, and utilized to the greatest extent by all people.

This means creating several variations of work areas—collaborative, private, open, and focused—as well as incorporating different visuals and acoustics that will help foster innovation at your organization among your neurodiverse population.

Psychoacoustic Elements

Another key factor that comes into play when designing for a neurodiverse office is noise pollution. Those with ADHD, autism, and dyslexia may have a lower tolerance to excessively loud or abrupt noises many of us experience in a bustling office. That’s why installing acoustic paneling around the office, as well as several acoustic seating arrangements, is the perfect option to reduce  some of that noise.

Consider high-backed seating, sound-absorbing acoustic panels that hang easily from your ceiling, and other modern noise-reducing solutions to tamp down excessive clamour. 

Mobility

We can all get antsy from time to time, but for neurodiverse individuals, moving around or doing various “self-stimulating behaviors” can actually help release tension and promote focus throughout the workday. Your office needs to be able to work with these individuals—not against them.

With any new hire, it’s important to discuss physical desires  when it comes to their workstation. Do they prefer having an adjustable chair that rocks or bounces? Would a sit-to-stand desk help them remain concentrated throughout the workday? Ask these questions and make sure to follow through with the appropriate furniture arrangement.

Designing your modern office with neurodiversity in mind is not challenging, but these design changes are worthless unless they’re being made with a purpose. Are you ready and willing to create an environment that fosters innovation across your entire team?

Do you genuinely believe in the extraordinary capabilities of those who are neurodiverse? If you want your office and your employees to be accepting of those who are neurodiverse, your work environment—and you—need to be accepting, as well.

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