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Designing Workspaces for Neurodiversity; Addressing Gender Inequalities in Hybrid Work

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Welcome to the Workspace Connect Wrap, your regular roundup of news and analysis examining the modern workplace. In today's edition: we explore the issue of creating offices for neurodiverse individuals and look at a survey identifying the workplace concerns of women.
HOK, Tarkett Share Tips on Creating Inclusive Workplaces for Neurodiverse Employees
Design firm HOK and flooring manufacturer Tarkett this week shared survey results from over 200 neurodiverse individuals to explore the challenges they face in the workplace. The most commonly reported challenges include:
  • 77% of survey respondents said they were hypersensitive to noise and sound in the workplace.
  • 62% of survey respondents said they were hypersensitive to visual distractions in the office, including movement, color, and light.
  • Neurodiverse women reported more sensory sensitivities in the workplace than men. Of those surveyed, 62% of neurodiverse women express sensitivity to temperature, compared to 59% of neurodiverse men. Similarly, 46% of neurodiverse women expressed light sensitivity compared to 44% of neurodiverse men.
To support neurodiverse employees, HOK and Tarkett shared several workplace strategies and design tips to create more inclusive workspaces. These include:
  • Provide education about neurodiversity to all employees
  • Create work policies that are flexible and give people control over their schedule and where they work
  • Make a range of workplace options available to everyone, including open office environments to private work areas
  • Offer workspaces that provide access to natural light and encourage physical movement
"One size, or solution, misfits all. This latest study continues to show that, to allow all employees to thrive, office designs need to remain fluid and adaptable. Employers can improve employee wellness and productivity by offering a wide range of choices, allowing people to continually select the best space for their individual needs and the task at hand." Kay Sargent, director of workplace for HOK, said.
Deloitte Surveys Women in the Workplace, Finds Disparity in Hybrid Work
In a recent report titled "Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook," Deloitte shared research from a survey of 5,000 women in ten countries and sectors that looked at levels of burnout and how women are adjusting to hybrid work.
Some top takeaways from the survey include:
  • 53% of women said their stress levels are higher than a year ago.
  • Nearly 40% of women are actively looking for a new employer because of burnout.
  • A third of women have taken time off work because of mental health challenges, but only 43% feel comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace.
  • Younger women and those in middle-management positions are more likely to feel burnout, with 61% of them reporting burnout.
In addition to burnout issues, women are also reporting workplace policies that are hostile to people who want flexibility. Deloitte found:
  • Almost 60% of women working in a hybrid work environment report feeling excluded, including from important meetings. Additionally, 45% said they don't have enough exposure to leaders.
  • 94% of survey respondents said that they believe requesting a flexible working situation would impact the likelihood of a promotion.
  • 33% of women said their employer offered flexible-working policies, and 22% cited flexibility around where and when they work.
  • 59% of women said they experienced non-inclusive behaviors over the past year (up from 52% in 2021) Half of all women said they experienced microaggressions and 14% experience harassment. Additionally, 93% believe reporting these incidents will negatively impact their career.
  • Women in ethnic minority groups experienced higher rates of exclusion and of feeling patronized. The survey found that 15% of women in ethnic minority groups experienced exclusion from informal interactions, and 9% felt patronized, compared to 10% and 2%, respectively, for women in non-ethnic minority groups.
  • LGBT+ women are 10% more likely to say they have been patronized or undermined because of their gender, and 7% were more likely to be addressed in an unprofessional or disrespectful way.
To support women in their careers and create more inclusive workplace cultures, Deloitte looked at organizations that fostered inclusion, supported work/life balance, and addressed mental health concerns. Dubbed "gender equality leaders," these organizations reported more positive experiences with hybrid work, and only 3% of the women in these organizations said they felt burnout. Additionally, 87% of the women said that they received adequate mental health support from their employees and felt comfortable talking about workplace mental health.
"Despite the fact that many employers have implemented new ways of working designed to improve flexibility, our research shows that the new arrangements run the risk of excluding the very people who could most benefit from them, with the majority of the women we polled having experienced exclusion when working in a hybrid environment," said Emma Codd, Deloitte global inclusion leader. "The findings of this research show the importance of actions beyond policy — those that truly address and embed wellbeing, flexibility, and a respectful and inclusive 'everyday culture'."