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Noiseless workplaces and better focus: How neurodiverse employees can benefit from working remotely

Neurodiverse workers often struggle with traditional workplace environments. Some find remote work helps.
Neurodiverse workers often struggle with traditional workplace environments. Some find remote work helps.   -   Copyright  Canva

By Kirstie McDermott

Business leaders broadly agree that diversity and inclusion (D&I) measures are important – even if they may only be implemented to boost the bottom line.

Research from McKinsey found that companies that practised gender diversity in executive teams outperformed industry peers by 21 per cent.

Diversity in the workplace is about far more than looking at your gender split and ensuring the headcount looks good, however. Increasingly, neurodiversity is coming under the microscope too.

As a term, neurodiversity was initially used mainly to describe people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who make up about 1.7 per cent of the European population.

It now also includes those with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysnomia, high sensitivity, giftedness, Tourette’s syndrome, bipolarity, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), among others.

According to ADHD Aware, it is thought that up to 15 per cent of the population is neurodiverse.

That’s a lot of people in the workforce, and according to Dr Rachel Craddock, a Thales Expert and Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), we need to be a lot better at supporting them.

Craddock has led the Thales Neurodiversity Group in the UK since 2013. At the age of 42, she found out she was autistic.

“We get treated as being broken, deficient or defective, or incapable or lesser,” said Craddock, speaking about how people react to the fact she is neurodiverse.

“I've actually had people talk about me, about my neurodiversity while I was in the room”.

Craddock says neurodiverse employees have a lot to offer, but things need to change.

“As soon as I found out [I was autistic] and I started talking to people, and then when I took on the role of neurodiversity lead, we started to change attitudes in the workplace,” she said.

“The strengths and the feelings of neurodivergent people are commonly overlooked. And this is where there are a lot of assumptions and myths”.

Unfit workplace conditions

Many neurodiverse workers fear discrimination at work, with one study finding that 75 per cent of neurodivergent workers hide their condition due to perceived stigmas.

“It has been estimated that neurodivergent people can be using up to 70 per cent of their brains on masking,” Craddock confirmed.

“If you're an employer, you are employing me for my brain. If I'm using 70 per cent of my IQ masking, you're getting 30 per cent”.

Other employees find that workplaces tailored to neurotypical workers don’t take into account their needs. They are over-lit, or too noisy with far too much going on, and there are no accommodations made for acoustic privacy, for example.

It is so important to get this right; a US study from 2019 estimated that 85 per cent of autistic people are unemployed, compared to 4.2 per cent of the overall population.

Working at their own pace

One useful way to support neurodiverse workers is through remote working. Thirty-four per cent of neurodiverse workers say that there are less distractions when working from home (WFH), according to research conducted by O2.

Remote working has also helped reduce absenteeism and increase employment among neurodiverse workers – but it isn’t a complete cure-all.

O2’s research also found that WFH exacerbates other issues for neurodiverse employees, such as maintaining focus during virtual meetings (45 per cent), “Zoom fatigue” (44 per cent) and feeling overwhelmed by the reliance on instant messaging platforms (43 per cent).

To help, companies need to engender a culture of trust and flexibility and allow neurodiverse employees to work at their own pace, within an agreed framework of goals, targets or deadlines.

Whether you’re a neurodiverse worker looking for your next role or a neurotypical individual who wants to work in a company committed to fostering a more inclusive workforce, then check out Euronews.jobs, where there are hundreds of remote opportunities, like the three roles below.

Partner Success Manager – EMEA, eyeo

Eyeo is an open-source software company which creates market-leading ad-filtering technology powers products like Adblock Plus and AdBlock as well as technical integrations for leading browsers.

As the Partner Success Manager, you will be responsible for driving partner adoption and expansion success by engaging broadly across the partner organisation.

You will proactively identify engagement priorities on accounts to focus efforts based on value, perceived risk, potential growth, strategic value, and renewal timeframe.

You’ll be responsible for managing continuous high renewals, growing accounts, and influencing the long-term future value of strategic accounts too.

You can work remotely or from one of eyeo’s offices in Berlin or Cologne—the company trusts you to find what works best for you. Find out more here.

Senior Finance Officer (MENA), GNP Plus

GNP Plus is a Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), a network for people living with HIV, run by people living with HIV.

The Amsterdam-based MENA Senior Finance Officer will be responsible for disbursing and tracking all Love Alliance grants and program expenditures in Egypt,Morocco and regionally.

You will also develop financial due diligence and control measures for the GNP+’s grantmaking and work with GNP+’s financial manager to design grants payment protocols and a financial manual that includes necessary deliverables regarding reporting and compliance.

You will need at least three years experience in finance and grant management in a non-profit, plus experience in managing financial systems and controls.

Flexible working styles are available for this role including remote working, job share opportunities, and compressed weeks. Get all the details here.

UX Design Lead, Mastercard

Mastercard is looking for a brilliant and passionate UX Design Lead to join the global CX and design team in Dublin, which is a global multi-disciplinary team of designers, researchers and strategists, whose goal is to create and scale differentiated and innovative experiences that fuel Mastercard’s business.

In this hybrid remote role, you will need to have significant experience in creating and implementing UX and visual design for desktop and mobile devices.

You are an experienced designer, who carefully considers how the customer will interact with the product, from overall journey level right down to the smallest details and you’ll be proficient with design programs such as Sketch, Figma, InVision, Mural, Adobe Suite and other leading design tools and applications. You’ll have previously worked on complex projects in large business settings and have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS and comparable languages. Get more details here.

Want to work from home? Discover more remote jobs all over the continent on Euronews.jobs