Adjusting the workplace
Not making suitable adjustments for neurodivergent staff can be
detrimental to their mental health, particularly those with depression
and/or anxiety. A report indicates that bringing neurodivergent staff
back to work too early could have trigger risks, for example, people
with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may be led ‘to increased or
problematic safety behaviours like excessive hand washing and cleaning
rituals – especially as we have been instructed to avoid public spaces
and not use shared equipment for months.’
It may be that a longer period of either flexible or homeworking
measures will be the most practicable option. This is because
neurodivergent people are said to work more efficiently where there are
less distracting social interactions within their surroundings or things
that can cause a ‘sensory overload’.
Should it be necessary to require a neurodivergent member of staff to
attend the office, practical considerations to make this more
comfortable is to provide them with a designated workspace, rather than
'hot desking', possible aware from too many distractions to enable them
to concentrate. Having a clear plan and communicating it to affected
staff members will also help neurodivergent staff adjust to any changes.
Communication is critical
Employers will need to think strongly about how to communicate with
neurodivergent staff when discussing changes to their work pattern, and
consider the impact that a hybrid working model may have on their
ability to perform and manage their reactions to changes, as this way of
working may be too disruptive to their work.
The key consideration in making any changes to where employees work
is to discuss it with them, to smooth over any concerns and establish
what is needed to allow that worker to do as asked. This is even more
important in the case of neurodivergent staff, and managers may need
guidance in the best ways to handle this.