Creating a Neurodiversity Friendly Workspace
As a neurodivergent person, you may have unique needs that others assume they don’t have to consider. For example, you crave staying organised & less distracted, but occasionally you lose focus because of how your workspace is set up.
It can be a headache if your workspace works counter to your needs. But there’s hope. Here are a few tips for personalising your workspace to create an environment that works best for you and helps make the most of your neurodivergent strengths:
Assess your sensory triggers
The first step to creating a workspace that works for you is assessing what sensory triggers impact your ability to stay focused. Your sensory triggers could be so many things, like:
Too much light next to your workspace
The main issue with too much light is that it can overwhelm autistic people since they may be more sensitive to bright lights and colours. One autistic person who noticed this issue said,
“It burns my eyes, making it difficult to see; it gives me migraines and is generally very overstimulating.”
So if this sounds like you, it might be worth noting this as one of your sensory triggers, and we’ll look at ways to mitigate it.
Too much-surrounding noise nearby
For those diagnosed with ADHD, noise can be an almost unbearable auditory trigger at the workplace. One interviewee said,
“I lost my cool at someone loudly in extreme frustration. I know I had a valid point, but I went ballistic because of the noise.” I felt embarrassed”
The basic fact is that ADHD’ers require peace to focus on their task.
Empty water bottles & cups & papers
A cluttered environment may seem benign to the average person, but for most neurodivergent people, including those with dyspraxia and autism, it can be head-spinning. You may find yourself glued to a desk chair or unable to focus on your task because of the mess around you, and no matter how much you clear up, it often seems to be just a matter of minutes before the mess is back.
A smartphone at your workstation is like a distraction on steroids because your attention goes to it like a magnet. A study conducted by Harvard Business School found that 33.1% per cent of university students required help with ignoring their devices when they were trying to focus on something else. Besides, smartphones’ light & overwhelming noise tend to be incredibly distracting.
Interventions & how to set up your workspace
Buy a small box to organise your things
You will be surprised how much this small box can do. It will help you kill the urge to reach for your phone every few minutes. For example, the box doesn’t have to be huge; a small 6x6x4 inches box can do the trick. The idea is to lock away the phone from the vicinity of your workspace.
Most ADHD’ers love the noise-cancelling headphone for a reason. It blocks out the sound and helps you remain focused on the task. And again, it’s hard to bother someone putting on headphones. Most people will take it as a sign that you are busy and don’t want to be disturbed. If the workplace doesn’t allow headphones, consider getting a pair of earplugs. And if an ear plug is not allowed, consider obtaining an official note from an occupational psychologist who signs off on medical necessity.
Use a sketchbook or notebook
This will help to keep all your ideas & notes in one place. And if you feel bored or stuck, you can scribble some ideas and connect some dots. This is especially beneficial for those who need to remember things easily.
Find a comfortable chair that doesn’t press your legs
This is very important if you are to sit for an extended period & you have long legs. Make sure the chair is adjustable for your height, or replace it with a good one. Also, make sure it is comfortable. You can buy a cushion or get one from home to ensure your body will not ache after a few hours of sitting.
Setting up a standing desk
If you are allowed to consider setting up a standing desk, you won’t be stuck on a chair for an extended time. Setting up a standing desk is easy, and you only need a few pieces of wood, screws & nails. You can even use a laptop stand to be mobile in your workspace.
We mentioned something about light earlier, and blackout curtains will help you to control the amount of light entering your workspace. This can be very beneficial if you work by an open window with tons of natural light. It can also be helpful for those whose productivity drops during nights or late afternoons when there is less daylight.
To avoid headaches and squinting, you can get a screen dimmer. A readily advisable dimmer is CareUeyes, it’s got an auto dimmer which works quite fine, and its price is very reasonable. It will help to reduce the brightness of your computer screen, plus you can also adjust the blue light filter and warm filter.
These are a few tips that may help you create a workspace suitable for your needs. We hope this will make your work easier and more efficient.