More than one in five (21%) neurodiverse employees want the option to work from home, according to new research.
A study by instantprint, which surveyed more than 1,000 office staff, revealed that 17% of those with neurodiverse conditions sought flexible working arrangements.
In terms of workplace support, the printing company’s research found that fewer than half (48%) indicated that employers should offer this. Of those who said they should, most (92%) had been diagnosed with a neurodiverse condition.
However, half (50%) think employers should support neurodiversity only to a certain extent, while 2% believe none should be offered. Of these respondents, 78% identified as neurotypical, suggesting that they have never had a neurodiverse diagnosis.
Three in 10 (29%) survey participants believe their organisation provides support but is too accommodating, while 28% say it is offered but more could be done.
Just under a quarter (24%) claim their employer completely supports neurodiversity, while just 7% say their organisation does not and the same percentage of respondents are unsure. Only 4% think their employer makes it harder for those with neurodiversity.
Asked about what their organisation does provide, almost a quarter (24%) had the option of working from home and nearly one five (18%) reported having permission to take extra breaks.
Around 14% of respondents had access to booths, break rooms, or pods which allowed them to recharge and relax, while 11% noted their employers use positive and inclusive language. Another 11% believe their organisations prioritise clear, direct and concise communications.
Kelly Grainger, co-founder of Neurodiversity Workplace Consultancy Perfectly Autistic, said: “Employers need to start supporting their neurodivergent workforce and understand the benefits that diversity brings to their teams and overall business. This includes creativity, innovation and a different way of thinking.
“The tide is slowly starting to turn with companies wanting to learn and understand more and there is a big appetite for workshops, training and webinars run by actually neurodivergent people. But for many it is still a tick box exercise. Organisations need to create an open and inclusive workplace, which starts from the top down with constant and consistent communication. This will benefit all staff not just neurodivergent employees.”
Among those who had been diagnosed with a neurodiverse condition, 39% didn’t feel comfortable talking about it, while 25% did. Around 22% were comfortable discussing it with colleagues but not their employer, while 9% preferred to talk to their employer rather than colleagues.
Florence Weber-Zuanigh, diversity and inclusion consultant and founder of Diversity in the Boardroom, added: “The sooner we embrace the idea that not everybody’s brain works the same way, not only neurodivergent people but literally everyone, the sooner employees will be shame-free and able to explore what actually works for them. This would not only have a tremendous impact on employee wellbeing and engagement but also for understanding, teamwork and ultimately performance.
“If your neurotypical employees (or at least who think they are) are pushed to nurture jealousy towards neurodivergent ones because they are allowed to work different hours, to work from home, to have a quiet space in the office etc. What this shows, aside from a lack of education on neurodiversity that could be provided by organisations, is that they are craving the freedom and respect that can come with certain accommodations.”