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Workspaces failing needs of neurodiverse employees

Office designs are failing workers with neurodiverse needs by not accommodating for their differing sensory needs.

These sensory experiences are an important factor for neurodiverse employees such as autistic workers who are prone to sensory overload when their surroundings become overwhelming or those with ADHD who can become easily distracted.

Lee Daniels, head of workforce and workplace consulting at real estate company JLL, argues that special attention should be paid to the five senses in the design process.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "The interior design of office environments today haven't really considered multifaceted aspects that need to be considered for the neurodivergent community; things such as light, colour, and sensory escape. When you start to think of all them, there's a lot to consider."

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Daniels suggested HR should make the office design process more inclusive by using focus groups to make sure every employee's needs are catered for. 

He added: "We need to make it an inclusive process to ensure that we're creating the right design for everyone, because the reality is the world and workforce really need all kinds of brains and needs to listen to all kinds of voices to create the right outcomes."

Recruitment can also put neurodivergent people at a major disadvantage. 

Dan Harris, founder of charity Neurodiversity in Business, said: "Recruitment processes are notoriously old fashioned and competency based.

"A lot of neurodivergent people may not excel at an interview, but they may be the best candidate for the job. What world class organisations are moving across to is a people centric process where you can see how people do at the job task rather than how they perform in an interview.

"The obvious benefit is better recruitment, better quality candidates and ensuring you don’t miss out on that human capital."

Daniels added that sharing how recruitment process have been tailored to neurodiverse needs is crucial.

He said: "The employer needs to shout loud and proud around what they've done. This then creates attraction to that specific talent pool. We know that talent has basically superpowers and recruiting, recruiting that talent pool will create competitive advantage for any firm.

"What's more important is then ensuring that, when that talent pool is attracted to that organisation, the company carefully considers, plans and conducts the right workplace assessment."