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8 November 2023 | by Andrew Peers
Universally, we are having more open conversations about previously taboo subjects, such as menopause, neurodiversity, mobility impediments, mental health, personality traits and more. As a result, the employee experience is starting to be viewed through the lens of Diversity, Inclusion, Belongingness, and Equity (DIBE).
While it’s hugely positive that DIBE has come to the fore and organisations are working fast to educate themselves about it, we can’t ignore just how dire the collective starting point is. As these diversity and inclusion in the workplace statistics demonstrate, the world’s current position still leaves much to be desired.
These statistics show that a proper understanding of difference is required to make society, organisations and their workplaces inclusive. These facts also highlight how society and the workplace have traditionally been weighted to the needs of white, non-disabled and neurotypical men. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that diversity and inclusion at work are topical and vital issues, especially for employee-centric organisations.
The disability statistic shows how shallow our collective understanding has been. If only 8% of disabled people use a wheelchair, why is disabled access so typically framed in these terms? What about ensuring a broader range of disabilities
are catered for, perhaps with signage that’s easy to read or available in brail, providing mental health support at work or creating environments that support those with neurodivergent needs.
If one in every five people are neurodiverse, employers should be doing more to help them thrive, especially as they are widely recognised for being highly creative thinking, adept at problem-solving and with an exacting eye for detail – all hugely valuable business traits. This should include offering personal support required to carry out work tasks and providing access to the right environment, such as quiet spaces with fewer stimuli.
Women account for half of the population – but until recently, industry was losing accomplished and experienced staff because employers didn’t understand or cater for those experiencing menopause. Yet some simple changes to workplace culture and office interior design could make all the difference.
Becky said: “Imagine if all these groups were made to feel acknowledged, understood and supported through workplace environments. Think of the talent pool that would be unlocked for UK businesses and the widespread benefits this would bring to society. One of the key ways to do this is by creating positive and diverse work environments that equip everyone with the tools and resources they need to thrive.”
With greater awareness and understanding of DIBE comes a more informed and intentional approach to workplace design. However, catering for diversity doesn’t mean one thing has to work for everyone – but instead, there is plenty of choice so that everyone can find a way to participate. This is how to create positive employee experiences for all.
Here are three simple ways office interior design can cater for diversity and inclusion:
One of the most significant areas to focus on is considering stimulation sensitivity. Neurodivergence can include extremities of sensitivity to stimulation. When planning a workplace, we need to ensure there are spaces of sensitivity sanctuary, which are hyper-minimal spaces that offer visual and audio privacy at their core. If space allows, differentiating quiet work settings such as a booth for focused work and wellness or retreat spaces will ensure colleagues can access the supportive environment they need anytime. Ensuring there are predictably quiet workplace zones also helps to limit distractions.
While much of an organisation’s response to menopause needs to focus on creating a culture of understanding and support, inclusive office design also has a role. This should include creating quiet and private spaces where those struggling with symptoms can retreat, allowing employees greater control over their work settings’ temperature, encouraging access to the outdoors and wellbeing spaces, and offering mental health and mindfulness support.
Diverse workspaces don’t just make people feel seen, heard, and understood; they also bring people together to create a sense of community, as this is how they will forge meaningful connections. This can be achieved by offering a variety of areas such as on-site cafes, breakout areas, wellbeing spaces, training zones and even town hall spaces – which are ideal for department or company-wide gatherings. If your workplace doesn’t have these features, it could be time to read up on the Destination Office and think about how office refurbishment could support your DIBE goals.
Paddy said: “DIBE is one of the most significant factors shaping the future of the workplace and, crucially, how organisations approach employee recruitment, engagement and retention, and improve employee experience as a whole. Employers yet to embrace DIBE should do so quickly, as there are rich rewards, including improved productivity, wellbeing and profitability. It’s also how we will make individual people’s lives and society better for everyone.”
To learn more about Claremont’s approach to DIBE and the other trends shaping office interior design as we move into 2024, download a copy of our latest Insight Report here.
Associate Director - Head of Workplace Consultancy
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