How to Create an Autism-Friendly Work Environment

In honour of World Autism Awareness Week, we would love to share some tips for creating an autism friendly work environment!

Thanks to our partners Ambitious About Autism and their "Lunch and Learn" events, we are constantly trying to educate ourselves and our network.

1. Don’t stereotype

Each individual is exactly that - AN INDIVIDUAL - so be sure to communicate clearly with your employee and see exactly how you can support them.

2. Be Flexible

Again, as each person’s situation and challenges will vary; also be mindful of the sensory elements of the workspace. For example, some candidates that we have worked with do not like being close to the photocopier or clock; others can’t stand hearing people type around them and so use noise cancelling headphones when working on solo task. Accept that there is no normal and go from there.

3. Communication is Key

As a Welsh person, I can be guilty of using phrases such as ‘be there now in a minute’, which drives most of my English friends insane, as the statement is contradictory.  They know though that it is slang and means I will be there soon.

However, as a person with autism, statements like this can be a nightmare. Ensure then that you are communicating clearly, avoid colloquial sayings and do not imply things; just say what you mean. I would also always recommend following up verbal instructions with a written version and to be honest this is great for all employees, as it is just great for processing information in general.

4. Onboarding/Recruitment

I would say that, as a rule of thumb in general, have a flexible interview process for all individual circumstances. One positive of COVID has been that most, if not all interviews have now gone to remote video/zoom calls! This has been a real positive for most candidates with autism, as they no longer have the minefield of public transport, group interviews or new uncomfortable environments. To ensure that you are not missing out on the best person for the job, allow all candidates that you interview, to be in a situation where they can be the best version of themselves.

5. Give Ongoing Support and Have a Dedicated Go-To Person

While it is easy enough to make changes to a work environment, life is always changing, as are environments. So, I would recommend having weekly check-ins to make sure you are getting regular feedback. The new air conditioning might feel like Lapland to some people…
These are just a few tips and if you have any other questions, or would like some more advice then just reach out!

We know what good recruitment looks like, our partners know what inclusive looks like. Check our friends Ambitious About Autism, if you want to make your workplace a more autism-friendly environment and work with the experts who know how.

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