It is estimated that 1 in 7 of us in the UK are neuro-diverse and living with a wide variety of sometimes overlapping conditions including Autism, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Tourette’s to name a few.
Significant numbers of us identifying as ‘neuro-diverse’ can find elements of the built environment stressful or uncomfortable at various times and to varying degrees. Poorly planned workplaces can hinder our cognitive performance and productivity, whilst potentially also negatively impacting our health and wellbeing.
When it comes to the physical workplace, solutions which can benefit our neuro-diverse community might include light levels which closely mirror levels of natural daylight, air filtration, acoustic barriers in furnishings or noise-cancelling headphones to block out background noise and environments that incorporate a choice of private work spaces (to think deeply and problem solve) and open environments to collaborate with teams and be sociable.
Many of these solutions will of course also appeal to the entire workforce. In the wake of the pandemic, the value attributed to holistic wellness has grown. Workplaces which exude and authentically include health and wellness attributes such as exercise studios, access to healthy food, healthy air, better lighting and lower noise levels will produce greater pulling and holding power.
The positive news is that the British Standards Institution (BSI) recently published ground-breaking guidelines called PAS 6463 on how to design buildings and external spaces that are also inclusive of neuro-diverse people. These new guidelines address how to assist building designers in mitigating and eliminating the negative impacts of poorly designed spaces. The scope of the guidelines is all-encompassing, from lighting and acoustics to thermal comfort and wayfinding.
Given that we are in the midst of significant structural change with many companies still reimagining what the future of work, workplaces and policies look like for their businesses, these new guidelines are timely (well about time anyway!) and will be very useful in fueling conversations within the property industry. As future of work conversations now command C-suite attention in a way they never did pre-pandemic a greater number of eyeballs will be on this conversation across the silos of HR, Finance and Corporate Real Estate teams. This creates an enormous opportunity to embed inclusive design into the built environment. Dialogue on neurodiversity and how we should think about it – opens up space for more diversity and inclusion and equality in the workplace.
What looks good on the surface and what works best for people isn’t always the same thing. Creating inclusive environments that get the highest and best use of every square inch of our workplaces for as many people as possible can only be achieved from a human-centric starting point. By digging deeper into understanding what is it that the built environment needs to provide for all visitors and occupants of these spaces to flourish and do their best work the Real Estate & Built Environment Sector will be a lot closer to providing a welcoming and healthy workplace for all.
Want to join the conversation?
Tickets are now available from AbilityRe for a ‘Neurodiversity in the Workplace’ event on 16th February 17.30-19.00 at Jones Lang LaSalle, 30 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NH
A follow-up to our September event on Neurodiversity Awareness, this event will look at supporting Neurodiversity in the workplace in terms of workplace design, policies and procedures, building management and maintenance, and cultural change.
With arrivals from 5.30 and speakers starting at 6pm, we will look at various factors which can influence or support Neurodiverse people within the workplace. We will consider aspects such as inclusive policies and procedures, building design and fit-out, and technology. There will be a Q&A session with our panel, followed by networking drinks and the chance to meet like-minded people from throughout the Real Estate and Built Environment sectors.
Want to join AbiltyRe?
AbilityRE are still seeking a small number of strategic partners to fund our work and input into our general strategic direction and objectives. We would also like to hear from organisations who might be interested to become a corporate member of AbilityRE and host some events. We also want as many people as possible to benefit from our ‘free to join support network’ for people with a disability, neurodiversity, mental ill-health, or long-term health conditions and allies thereof within the Real Estate and Built Environment sector.
As well as networking and support, members can look forward to receiving invitations to some wonderful high profile learning events where they can listen to expert speakers and learn from and participate in stimulating panel discussions on a wide variety of important topics