How creating a culture that supports time-blindness can benefit your business

Over the past few months conversations about time blindness, a condition related to attention deficit hyper activity disorder (ADHD), have exploded.

It started with a neurodivergent TikToker struggling with 'time blindness' and facing backlash online for requesting accommodations at work.

And grew to commentators in the tabloids and broadsheets jeering against a backdrop of experts weighing in across business titles to say: 'it's a real thing'.

Attracting, recruiting, and supporting those with ADHD

As an HR professional navigating how to support a neurodivergent workforce against a backdrop of mainstream jeering, it can feel understandably fraught.

But the great news is that supporting the condition of time blindness confers high rates of success and is part of creating a great work-culture for all.

Creating psychological safety in workplace environments is the most helpful way for all employees to turn up as their authentic selves every day and to use the diverse range of strengths to their fullest potential in the workplace.

This has the knock-on effect of helping neurodiverse colleagues also unmask and explore their strengths in the context of work.

Having regular work-based conversations about individuals’ strengths and how they show up at work creates the feeling in people that they are genuinely understood, appreciated, and valued for what makes them unique.

This leads to a sense of psychological safety that allows people to share their vulnerabilities, which is never easy when it comes to neurodivergence.

Why managing time at work is the new frontier

A few ways that you can do this include changing the narrative around individuals’ ‘time blindness issue’.

HR professionals and managers can use a strengths approach to support the development of better time management skills.

Supporting managers to have an open discussion about what other strengths could support the individual to develop a more realistic concept of how time works is far more effective than shaming an individual for being late, which can exacerbate the issue by increasing stress around it.

A colleague of mine used the strengths-based tool I developed, Strengthscope, to look at time through the strength she had of empathy.

This helped her develop a practice of viewing time through an empathic lens, thinking about how time will impact on others.

Rather than an ADHD lens, which she described as "an inherent belief that I can somehow beat the forces of time that bind us".

Like so many other ADHD symptoms, being late is exacerbated when we experience stress.

This is true of many other workplace issues such as poor attention to detail, also made worse when we’re under pressure and stress.

So, creating a workplace environment where people experience less stress is the best way to help people suffering with time-blindness get better with managing their time.

Harnessing the rich potential of neurodiverse talent

As with all managerial performance-related issues, setting someone up to fail may result in them feeling stressed, so is unlikely to result in success.

So rather than sitting in visible annoyance as someone walks in the door half an hour late – instead take the stress away from the individual, which will paradoxically help the person be on time.

When punctuality is critical, having a conversation about how a person might use their strengths to plan their journey for important meetings may well be the best way to support an individuals’ success.

When you contextualise any conversation within the positive frame of strengths-based language, you are asking people to share where they are at their best first.

Only after that can a person really open up usefully about where they may experience challenges, and how can the team, manager or organisation can best support them to overcome those challenges.

Paul Brewerton is founder and chair of Strengthscope