Autism and the Workplace Environment
When looking at the workplace environment, there are several key considerations which can help to support people on the autism spectrum. That office re-arrangement you were considering to freshen things up... have you considered the huge impact this could have on the well-being of the staff you employ? For many people the workplace environment is a safe zone, and this can particularly be the case for employees on the autism spectrum.
The term “Hot-Desking” in itself, caused much amusement when I discussed the idea with a group of students on the autism spectrum. But when I explained the idea to them, their questions made me seriously consider how the concept could be successful. Having visited several places recently which use a hot-desking system and speaking to the employees, the overwhelming feedback was that people become even more protective of “their” desk and were very reluctant to move. For employees on the autism spectrum though, the upset and distress this can cause can be huge and has even made employees leave jobs where they were otherwise happy.
It is crucial to consider the sensory environment of workplaces and to listen to the views of employees. The noise from a wi-fi hub which may sound slightly annoying to some people, can be deafening and unbearable to somebody with heightened levels of hearing. A new employee to the workplace may be reluctant to raise this with their line manager. This is something which we cover during our mentoring sessions which can be provided, and we can then look at solutions to this; for the above example – could ear defenders be provided? Could their desk be in another area of the room etc? To gain employment is a huge step for many people on the autism spectrum, and they would not want this to be jeopardised by what could be perceived as a “trivial” matter, and by businesses showing they are willing to listen and learn, they can benefit from the wide range of skills which autistic employees can bring to the spectrum.
We can also support your business in providing “Business Guides” which can benefit not only employees, but also customers and any potential visitors to your workplace environment. We work with you to ensure these reflect your businesses aims, vision and ethos and they can be a great way of reducing anxieties and making sure the workplace environment you create is welcoming to all. This can be really important when inviting candidates for interviews, and can also be great for showing existing employees that their views are taken into consideration.
We believe that with small changes the workplace environment can become so much more accessible to people who want to work. From my experience the majority of autistic people do not want charity, they want opportunity. Work with us to help a create spectrum of opportunities which will benefit all of those involved.