Agreeably, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that flexible work arrangement is feasible and can be more beneficial for individuals and organisations alike. For example, companies saw a lower overhead cost due to reduced need for office space and resources, while others saw an increase in productivity & morale of employees because they were able to work from the comfort of their homes.
We know that neurodivergent employees can significantly contribute to creative ideas at work. That’s why companies strive to create an environment that is tailored to the needs of their neurodivergent employees and make sure that they can thrive in a workplace like no other—a flexible work arrangement!
Types of Flexible Work Arrangements
Allowing remote work whenever possible
If you see potential in an employee, but request to work from home for a medical reason. Why not make it possible? Allowing these employees to work from home allows them to manage their energy and focus when needed to meet the company’s goals. We understand the worries of most employers: “if they are working from home, would they be productive?”. The answer is YES! They also have the same zeal to perform and excel at their tasks, just like in-office employees. If you’re an employer looking to foster an environment encouraging work at home. Make sure to communicate deadlines. You can make soft deadlines that are not mandatory to meet and hard deadlines that are absolute. For example, “I need the articles by 20th best, latest 27th” This sends a psychological signal and makes them accountable to keep up with your expectations.
Everybody to know what space is available if they need a break
We categorise this under flexible working because it allows employees to take a break when they feel tired. Every team member must know what space is available if they require a break from their desks or workspace—a physical break room with comfortable seating, TV, games, and other recreational spaces. Autistic employees would prefer a corner or any room that’s noiseless with peace and low light. Even a company library with books, magazines, and other reading materials can help. It would be best to inform your team that this space is available for them when needed.
Assistive technology to tint the screen & a screen ruler
We’ve talked lengthily about assistive technology in our previous blogs. But again, to reiterate the point. Assistive technology like a screen tint, used by those sensitive to light, can greatly help. On the other hand, screen rulers are very helpful for people with dyslexia, as they allow them to read more smoothly and ensure they don’t miss out on anything important. Here’s one comment from an autistic employee on his use of screen tinting technology:
“The screen tint helps me focus more and accomplish tasks much faster. Also, read & Write installed on my laptop, and voice dictation on Microsoft helps me ease problems with fatigue or typing issues.”
Don’t assume a neurodiverse person is good at X and bad at Z (allow sharing of tasks)
This is a common mistake employers need to correct. For example, a lot of employers assume that all autistic people will be good at coding and bad at customer interaction. This is not true. It’s the opposite! Every individual has different strengths and weaknesses, which is where flexibility comes in. Allow your employees to do the tasks they are good at and allow sharing of tasks in areas where they need help. This will foster an environment that is creative, open, and collaborative.
The benefits of a flexible work environment
Generally, flexible work arrangements benefit both the employer and the employee. It allows employers to hunt for the best talent, not restricted by physical location, and gives employees more autonomy. Flexible work arrangements mean people with dyspraxia can collect their thoughts, process information and complete tasks at their own pace without forgetting small details. It is also vital that autistic individuals get to work in a peaceful environment or a quiet room without the pressure of external distractions. Most importantly, it encourages creativity and allows them to explore their potential.