ResearchDesigning a neurodiverse workplace: New report encourages rethink of workspaces

Report investigates how organisations can rethink their space to be more inclusive and to help an increasingly neurodiverse workforce thrive.
Content Team5 years ago4 min

A new report Designing a Neurodiverse Workplace, explores how organisations can create physical work environments that support the full range of employees: neurotypical and neurodivergent. 

Published by the WorkPlace practice division of global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK, this comprehensive report includes interviews with experts as well as suggestions for design strategies, operational changes and individual adjustments that can support neurodiverse and neurotypical staff alike.

Accommodating neurodiverse people can provide a significant competitive advantage

According to HOK, approximately 15-20 percent of people are neurodivergent, i.e., have one of a collection of conditions that includes autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. The Report’s authors argue that employers are beginning to recognise that, in addition to simply being the right thing to do, accommodating neurodiverse people can provide a significant competitive advantage. This is leading to a range of more inclusive policies, programs and procedures, though this recognition is only just beginning to affect workplace design.

Approximately 15-20 percent of people are neurodivergent


“Designers have an opportunity to influence the physical and cultural adaptations required to make workplaces more inclusive,” said Kay Sargent, a director of HOK’s WorkPlace practice. “We need to ensure that the most valuable assets and currency of every business—its people—have the opportunity to be happy, health, engaged and empowered.”

The report explores how workplace designers and strategists can help organizations create more inclusive environments. Key observations include:

  • Designing for neurodiverse populations will benefit a company’s entire workforce.
  • While neurodiverse staff can bring exceptional talents—including creative storytelling, coding, empathy, pattern recognition and problem solving—they cannot always thrive within existing workplace norms and practices.
  • Different neurological conditions manifest in different ways and even those sharing the same condition experience it to varying degrees.
  • Most common workplace challenges center on spatial organization, spatial character, acoustic quality, thermal comfort, lighting and degree of stimulation.
  • Ensuring that employees have choices about how and where to work enables them to more effectively manage their own needs and maximize their productivity.

Download a PDF of the “Designing a Neurodiverse Workplace” report.

To find more content on designing a neurodiverse workplace, click here

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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