How to design a workplace that helps your neurodiverse workforce thrive

New “Designing a Neurodiverse Workplace” report redesigns the workplace to be more inclusives and to help an increasingly neurodiverse workforce thrive.

Hok’s WorkPlace has launched a new report investigating how organisations can rethink their office space to help an increasingly neurodiverse workforce thrive — and in the process, gain a competitive advantage.

Designing a Neurodiverse Workplace explores how organisations can create physical work environments that support the full range of employees: neurotypical and neurodivergent.

Designing for a neurodiverse workforce

HOK’s comprehensive report also includes interviews with experts, as well as suggestions for design strategies, operational changes and individual adjustments that can support neurodiverse workforces and neurotypical staff alike.

Approximately 15% to 20% of people are neurodivergent, i.e., have one of a collection of conditions that includes autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.

Employers are beginning to recognise that, in addition to simply being the right thing to do, accommodating neurodiverse people can provide a significant competitive advantage. This is leading to a range of more inclusive policies, programmes and procedures, though this recognition is only just beginning to affect workplace design.

“Designers have an opportunity to influence the physical and cultural adaptations required to make workplaces more inclusive,” said Kay Sargent, a director of HOK’s WorkPlace practice.

“We need to ensure that the most valuable assets and currency of every business — its people — have the opportunity to be happy, healthy, engaged and empowered.”

The report explores how workplace designers and strategists can help organizations create more inclusive environments. Key observations include:

  • Designing for neurodiverse populations will benefit a company’s entire workforce.
  • While neurodiverse staff can bring exceptional talents — including creative storytelling, coding, empathy, pattern recognition and problem-solving — they cannot always thrive within existing workplace norms and practices.
  • Different neurological conditions manifest in different ways and even those sharing the same condition experience it to varying degrees.
  • Most common workplace challenges centre on spatial organisation, spatial character, acoustic quality, thermal comfort, lighting and degree of stimulation.
  • Ensuring that employees have choices about how and where to work enables them to manage their needs and maximise their productivity more effectively.

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