A neurodiverse workplace is a work environment that is designed to accommodate employees with a wide range of neurodivergent differences. This can includes employees with conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia, dyscalculia.
Lucy Smith, founder of Inclusive Change works with organisations and individuals to help increase understanding of the importance of creating Inclusive workplaces that support neurodivergent teams. “Staff who are neurodivergent can bring incredible benefits to the work place but not all organisations aren’t tapping in to those benefits. Neurodivergent teams are proven to be more productive, innovative and creative”.
Lucy shares 10 reasons why neurodiverse workplaces are more productive.
1. Creativity and Innovation
Neurodivergent teams are proven to be more creative and innovative than their neurotypical counterparts. One reason for this is that neurodiverse employees tend to see the world differently and are not afraid to challenge conventional thinking. This allows them to come up with new ideas and solutions that others may not have considered.
- Attention to detail
Not all of us are “details people” but many autistic individuals will have an exceptional attention to detail. Any team will benefit from staff who are great at picking up errors or flaws or who can analyse data quickly and efficiently but teams working in quality control, finance or product development will absolutely benefit from details focussed individuals.
- Getting more done in less time
This is particularly relevant to individuals who Hyperfocus which can be a trait recognised by autistic individuals and those with ADHD. Hyperfocus is an incredible “superpower”, in short it enables individuals to focus intensely on a task or interest. It can be at the detriment of other things (like eating or sleeping) but when you are in hyperfocus you get a lot done – and I mean A LOT. Some have described being able to get 3 or 4 times as much work done in a given timeframe because you don’t get distracted. The downside of this is burnout and that your team members may not always be able to keep up with you.
- Avoiding Groupthink
When teams think the same you will often experience Groupthink – a psychological phenomenon where people put aside their own thoughts to achieve consensus in a group – which may not always be a good thing. A successful neurodiverse team will embrace different ways of thinking which will challenge and encourage better decision making and problem solving.
Neurodivergent workers will have experienced challenges throughout their life. Many will have overcome barriers, albeit from attitude, society or environment, to pursue a career path that they are passionate about. In other words they have developed resilience and probably from a very young age. So when the going gets tough for others our neurodivergent colleagues work through problems and identify solutions.
- Greater Empathy
This is linked with resilience through lived experiences. Neurodivergent colleagues will usually have greater understanding and empathy for others who may be experiencing difficulties which can make them great mentors and coaches. They know what it’s like to feel disadvantaged and to work out ways of overcoming challenges and often recognise those emotions in others.
- Avoiding distractions
It’s a fact of working life that some employees get distracted, in fact in some teams there can seem to be more talking about doing than actual doing. Now, not all neurodivergent team members will be great at filtering out distractions (if you have ADHD you may naturally be easily distracted by the unimportant and unnecesssary) however autistic individuals will focus purely on the task in hand and goals rather than get involved in the social things in the workplace that hinder efficiency. In some teams I have even heard new neurodivergent colleagues be told to “slow down, you are embarrassing the rest of us.”
- A wider talent pool
Recruitment in 2022 is tough so organisations need to look at untapped talent pools. Neurodivergent talent is one of those pools. According to CIPD 77% of unemployed autistic adults say they would love to work and most neurodivergent adults would like more opportunities to thrive in the workplace. An organisation that is inclusive and welcomes neurodiversity will attract the best talent and reap rewards in terms of loyalty, productivity and efficiency as well as demonstrating to their clients and customers that inclusion and diversity matters.
- Problem Solving
When you are facing what you may think are tricky or unsolvable problems it helps to look at those problems from different viewpoints and perspectives. Neurodiverse teams are able to draw from the multiple experiences within their teams with workers who literally define the term “thinking differently”. Not accepting the status quo and challenging the norm are all traits that Innovation and design teams benefit greatly from.
- Diversity is better
To sum all these points up, diversity is a good thing. Neurodiverse teams represent the community and society we live in, they represent your customers and their families, they can give insights and solutions for new ideas. Recognising that no one way or thought is natural or right but that neurodiversity respects that different ways of thinking are valid means that staff feel valued. A team that feels valued is stronger and more productive.
If you would like to find out more about how embracing neurodiversity can benefit your organisation Inclusive Change can help with training, consultancy and advice.
Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30 minute consultation.