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The modern-day workplace has evolved drastically to sustain new ways of working and accommodate different needs and preferences. The office is now far more than just somewhere to work, it is now a place where collaboration and adaptability are explored and features such as office design are used to create an inspiring space that people thrive in.

Designing a workplace that provides the right balance is an essential part of a successful workplace. Providing this ensures an office is giving people the freedom to move and interact safely and freely without any barriers. Joining hand in hand with inclusivity, designing an office space that accommodates neurodiversity will ensure different working styles can operate effectively and employees’ needs are being met. This article will delve into the key principles of a neurodiverse office and the key ways in which businesses can achieve this.

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What is neurodiversity?

The phrase neurodiversity doesn’t have just a single meaning. It is an umbrella term used for people who have a variety of conditions which can affect the ways they think, act and create. Whilst this is different to general personality types, it is important to distinguish these behaviours which go beyond social interactions. For instance, just because someone is an introvert does not mean they fit into neurodiversity. 

Why is it important to design a neurodiverse office?

Understanding that people have a variety of needs will ensure your workplace is equipped for all employees. When designing for neurodiversity, businesses focus on creating inclusive environments that are designed and equipped with spaces for people to complete their tasks in a way that is comfortable and safe. To put it simply, the environment is designed for the employee rather than the task and offers the following benefits.

By considering this in office design, space planning and day-to-day office life, businesses are not only improving productivity, wellness and results but will also make the employees feel heard and understood. 

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Benefits of prioritising neurodiversity in the workplace

Although every business and employee will benefit in different ways and no neurodivergent is the same, there are a number of solutions which can benefit the business and everyone in it. It’s important to remember that whilst some people may appreciate one aspect of neurodivergent design, others could benefit from something completely different. Here are just a few of the benefits offered through prioritising neurodiversity: 

  • Team productivity and performance
  • Retention and employee loyalty
  • Engagement and sense of belonging
  • Inclusivity
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Talent attraction and employee benefits
  • Boosted morale and company culture

How to support neurodiversity in the workplace

Designing a workplace which supports neurodiverse workers requires a level of consideration and intelligent changes to the existing space. For example, simple measures such as having access to headphones in busy spaces can help to prevent sensory overload. 

Instead of changing the whole concept of an office, neurodivergent workplaces accommodate employee needs with slight additions or changes that actually make a huge difference. 

Features and solutions

  • Quiter, less busy spaces for relief of social anxiety
  • Low-stimulation environments
  • Social spaces and collaborative working environments
  • Private zones or pods
  • Active zones to encourage physical activity
  • Sensory rooms or specific materials/lighting
  • Layout and furniture placement
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Different working styles to support in the workplace

Every employee works in different ways, with the design of an office being responsible for productivity and an effective working environment. Although working styles are more generic than those of a neurodivergent employee, it does help to consider the four main groups to understand how people could respond. 

Data-oriented: Employees use a more logical approach to achieve their goals and complete their tasks. These employees are best suited to quiet areas where they can concentrate with minimal distraction and handle more challenging tasks.

Detail-orientated: These employees will focus more on organisation and structure through planning strategies and deadlines. Although they thrive in a more traditional environment, detail-orientated employees will benefit from different tools, technologies and commitments. 

Emotional: Using support and communication, employees who are emotionally orientated use these to connect to people and get tasks done as a team. They may require a dedicated space where collaboration and interaction can be achieved, typically gravitating towards louder, busier environments. 

Idea-orientated: Employees who are idea-orientated will use their imagination and decision-making to entice energy and ideas within their teams and own tasks. They will benefit from more agile working conditions, using freedom and movement to their advantage to gain inspiration and creative thinking. 

Office design solutions by ACI

Are you wanting to re-vamp your current or new office space? Are you wondering how you can accommodate your office to fit the needs of all employees? Our office design service covers the whole of the UK, finding and implementing solutions which create inclusive, modern workplaces for all businesses.

From space planning or CAD designs to fitting in the final fixtures, we have several expert teams who can cover every part of an office fit-out or refurbishment.

Get in touch with the ACI team or give us a call on 0115 939 7572 to begin designing your new office space!