Tips on building inclusive offices from Motionspot and Barclays

Accessible design specialist Motionspot helped build inclusivity into Barclays' Glasgow site

Accessible design specialist Motionspot has produced a white paper to help employers make their workplaces more inclusive as employees return to the office.

The benefits of inclusive design and examples

The white paper explores the practical aspects of inclusive and accessible workspace design, including the positive impact on employee engagement, positivity, and commitment sentiment, as well as reducing exclusion.

The paper also highlights how inclusive design aids in talent attraction and retention while improving satisfaction at work and cost savings by “avoiding the need for expensive and environmentally damaging retrofits and adaptations in the future.”

Inclusive workspace solutions suggested by Motionspot include all gender WC facilities and signage for transgender and non-binary employees; private faith rooms; and designing kitchen areas that allow different foods to be stored separately to ensure inclusion for people of all faith, cultural and dietary backgrounds.

Motionspot recommends creating quiet spaces and implementing noise control measures to boost general workplace wellbeing and reduce anxiety.

The white paper also details six steps to inclusive workspace design; these include:

  1. Connect with stakeholders to build understanding
  2. Investigate reasons behind design challenges and identify points of exclusion
  3. Create an inclusive design strategy
  4. Improve by collecting feedback
  5. Measure the impact of the changes on building occupants
  6. Implement the design through inclusive design audits of existing buildings against the inclusive design strategy

Motionspot worked with Barclays to build an inclusive office environment for 5,000 employees and visitors on its new campus in Glasgow. The focus was on a built environment that helped people with physical, cognitive and sensory impairments feel at ease; this also included designing for neurodiversity, including autism.

Motionspot and Barclays: the new Glasgow campus

At the site, employees with sensory needs can now access recalibration rooms; this was in response to the fact that many autistic people have developed workplace strategies that include sensory recalibration.

These rooms have “intuitive environmental controls for light and heat” and sensory equipment, enabling employees to have a private space to reset their minds if they are experiencing a sensory overload, which is a common symptom of autism.

For those with physical disabilities, Motionspot has helped develop wheelchair and ambulant-accessible toilets at the Glasgow campus as well as Changing Places rooms, which have space for assistants to accompany people to the bathroom. There is also specialist equipment, including ceiling track hoists and height-adjustable changing benches in every building on the campus.

Other inclusive implementations made at Barclays’ Glasgow campus include:

  • Reducing the decibel levels of washroom hand dryers to make the experience less jarring for autistic people
  • Specifying door handles for people with limited dexterity
  • Choosing floor and wall finishes that give the necessary contrast for visitors and employees with a cognitive or visual disability
  • A focus on the design of lighting and acoustics for building users with visual and/or hearing impairments
  • The use of biophilic design and natural materials to help reduce anxiety

Following this partnership, Motionspot will work with Barclays to roll out inclusive design for all its offices worldwide.

Ron Coghill, Director, Major Projects Delivery Lead at Barclays, said: “Motionspot worked with us to create an inclusive workplace that goes well beyond standard access guidance. The Glasgow project has paved the way for future developments, enabling Barclays, in collaboration with Motionspot, to achieve world-leading accessible design standards and create spaces that are truly inclusive for all.”

Ed Warner, CEO and Founder of Motionspot, and Government Access Ambassador – Product and Spaces, said: “For diversity and inclusion policies to be successful, organisations need to consider how their workplaces can be designed more inclusively to remove barriers for employees and visitors. This gives opportunities to previously marginalised demographics and helps to create more diverse and inclusive workforces, which make better places to work while also improving productivity.”

Motionspot’s inclusive workspace white paper can be downloaded in full here.

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