Why do we need to meet at 9am?

The employer partners Xceptional support to attract and retain neurodivergent people are committed to creating inclusive environments for all. However there is often a perception that providing reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent people is costly and time consuming. Through April we will share a number of insights that show reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent people can be low or no cost and simple to implement.

What’s the most common workplace request for neurodivergent people?

In our experience it has nothing to do with compensation or professional development.  It may surprise you that flexible hours and adjusted start times is most frequently requested. But why? 

As companies increasingly prioritise diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices, it’s important to recognise that creating an inclusive workplace goes beyond just hiring a diverse workforce. Inclusive workplaces are those that actively work to support the unique needs of every employee, including those who are neurodivergent.

One effective way to make the workplace more inclusive is by offering flexible scheduling options, such as adjusted start times or flexible work hours. These accommodations can be particularly beneficial for neurodivergent employees, who may experience difficulties with sleep, sensory sensitivities, or social anxiety.

For example, research has shown that up to 80% of autistic individuals have difficulties falling or staying asleep. Offering flexible scheduling can enable employees to adjust their work hours to better align with their individual needs. For instance, an employee who struggles with sleep may benefit from being able to come into work later in the morning, which can improve their productivity and engagement.

In our previous blog, Whats wrong with meeting in a cafe,  we  learned that for many neurodivergent individuals, high sensory or social environments can be overwhelming and distressing. This can be true of public transport during peak times. For this reason some employees may choose to avoid peak times by starting early or coming in late when working in an office.

Personally, my ADHD brain is on shortly after opening my eyes and I often start work at 5.30 am. The first half of the day is my most productive as distraction free time allows me to compose my thoughts. I typically do deep work such as research and writing early in the morning, saving later in the day for meetings.

Flexible scheduling can also be beneficial to other employees, such as parents or caregivers who may need to adjust their work hours to accommodate their childcare responsibilities, or those with long commutes who may benefit from starting work earlier or later in the day.

Research has also shown that flexible work arrangements can have positive impacts  such as higher levels of job satisfaction, commitment, and lower rates of absenteeism and turnover. 

Here are some tips for implementing flexible scheduling options in your workplace:

  • Communicate openly: Ensure that all employees are aware of the available flexible scheduling options and encourage them to speak up if they feel they could benefit from these arrangements. This can help to create a culture of openness and support.
  • Be flexible (within reason): It’s important to set some guidelines around flexible scheduling options to ensure that employees are meeting their work obligations and deadlines, but try to be as accommodating as possible within these parameters.
  • Evaluate regularly: Check in with employees regularly to see how they are adjusting to their flexible work arrangements, and make adjustments as necessary.

Offering flexible scheduling options can be a simple yet powerful way to create a more inclusive workplace that supports the unique needs of neurodivergent employees. By taking a proactive approach to accommodating these needs, organisations can help create a more engaged, productive, and satisfied workforce.