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.