Workspace Design and Neuro Diversity

"Neurodiversity is designing workspaces to ensure your employees perform their best!" Employees are a crucial asset for any organization. Building a comprehensive and habitable workspace for your employees is the key to success.
27 Feb
Studio DB

From the largest corporations in the world to the most successful sports team and even local community zoos, organizations worldwide are considered because diversity, equity, and inclusion must incorporate forms of diversity beyond race, gender, and religion. Beyond those, neurological differences like dyslexia, ADHD, or autism are equally important to consider to support all team members with equal care. It is estimated that 20% of the global population, and this share, is growing. Successful organizations are creating mind-friendly work environments to better support the vast array of individual preferences across their workforce.

From a theoretical standpoint, inclusive design is sometimes thought of as simply spaces that accommodate all employees. However, people work and interpret their workspace very differently, with the same environment creating different emotional reactions depending on the user. The seven smells of a conventional open-plan office will impact the typical neuro person and the neuro-diverse colleague very differently.

After taking an hour-long commute to the office, sitting all day at work might be normal for neurotypicality, but some people might feel frustrated, exhausted, and distracted all day. There are layouts and designs that some people might find fancy, and others might find distracting and dizzy. In short — even when the designs are well intended — they won't always suit everyone.

Incorporating design strategies while keeping neurodiversity in mind can support your workspace in creating a comforting, productive, and calming workplace environment. 

The key benefit of developing a sensory mindful workspace atmosphere that helps the neurodivergent employees is simply because most of us don't even know if we are neuro diverse. Every human has unique sensory compositions to process and control stimuli from spatial and social environments. As we all have differently wired brains, we experience our surroundings differently than others. By creating workspaces that respect everyone's neurodiversity — we are taking care of the overall well-being of our employees. Therefore, this increases the productivity and mental health of the staff. 

"Approximately 15-20 percent of people are neurodivergent. This statement explains that 15-20 percent face autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia."

The staff that faces obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, dyspraxia, and social anxiety are hypersensitive. They are the first ones to experience environments that are neurologically stressful, either through a surplus or a deficit of neurological sensitivity. This kind of sensitivity coexists with positive characteristics like a high level of creativity, empathy, and out-of-the-box thinking. The social challenges experienced by some employees are overshadowed by acute memory and critical attention to detail. 

Some employees find it difficult to manage time because of ADHD experiences. But they have unique skills like creative thinking and the ability to hyper-focus on time-sensitive projects.

Neurodivergent workers possess unique talents, passion, and perspectives that will support the growth and development of your organization. To support these employees, companies must consider the neurodiversity workspace designs. Create a sensory-friendly workspace that thinks about lighting, motion, sound, color, smells, temperature, and even air quality, all of which can affect neurological conditions. This can help you eliminate unwanted distractions and stress from the minds of your employees.

When the body is forced to hide sensorial load, it leads to a lack of focus, decreased creativity, cognitive strain, and chronic stress. This kind of load definitely impacts the productivity of the employee. According to a recent report by KPMG, the financial implications of employee burnout add up to at least $4,000 per employee per year. Thousands of employees undergo a stress-induced level of burnout, leading to revenue loss. 

The positive point to highlight here is that neurodiversity experts are transforming the outdated medical model that states that neurological differences are broken and need to be fixed to a social model that sees the disabling environments as broken and something that must be fixed. The path to fixing these issues involves traditional workspaces and designs that cohere with different cognitive styles. A healthy work environment is just as much about company culture and flexibility as physical space. The inclusive sensory-friendly environment designs are developed to help employees bond and socialize and rest and recover. 

Here are some ideas you can include in your office interiors:

  1. Temperature control system: The office environment with temperature control allows workers to make temperature changes per their preferences. This increases overall comfort and productivity. 
  2. Acoustics design with sound masking: The reduced noise and disturbance allow the mind to stay calm and composed. This can be beneficial for staff suffering from misophonia a hypersensitivity to sound. 
  3. Air filtration systems: Improving the air quality of your workspace can be very impactful, especially for people with smell sensitivities. 
  4. Mind-friendly patterns: The wall patterns that are mind-friendly are helpful whether you are neurodivergent or not. These patterns help reduce distractions, dizziness, and a sense of imbalance. 
  5. Inclusive Technology: Inclusive technologies such as speech recognition, screen filters, and digital recorders help employees appreciate the multiple ways of engaging with their work.
  6. Circadian Lighting: Choosing the right light helps support the biological rhythms that mimic the nature of light. Selecting lights that are similar to light helps the employees feel active. Night or dim lights will eventually make them sleepy. 

Despite huge growth in the health sector, the one key factor that affects neurodivergent people suffering from chronic stress is the invisibility of conditions, ignorance, and reluctance to talk about it. TikTok is exploding with videos of adults covering their ADHA stories. People are talking about issues like time management, organization, and task initiation. There are famous celebrities like Trevor Noah expressing and disclosing their experiences on neurodivergent issues. It's time to understand that we all experience physical spaces differently as humans. Hence, creating workspaces that comprehend the needs of your employees is the best way to unlock the true potential of your vital assets. 

We at Studio DB understand the importance of designing habitable workspaces for everyone. We recognize that sensory-friendly environments help your employees to achieve better. 

We support businesses in creating intentional workspaces that respect individual and cognitive differences and cater to everyone's neurological health. To create workspaces that help neurodivergent workers uncover their limitless potential. 

If you are interested in upgrading your workspace into Neuro Diverse workspace design and bringing out the true potential of your staff. Give us call, we’d love to chat.

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