27 May 2024
Curated by: Redazione IVM

Inclusivity and neurodiversity: how office design responds

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It has been estimated that approximately 15-20% of the population is neurodivergent. This condition has a profound impact on how individuals perceive and interact with their working environment. In light of this, it is imperative that office design also reflects this diversity, stressing the importance of not being simply aware, but also radically inclusive.

With growing attention to these themes, the future of the office seems to promise environments that place increasing focus on personal well-being, integrating solutions that respond to their physical, sensory and cognitive needs, with the aim of transforming traditional workspaces into veritable experiential environments.

In short, “Mens sana in officium sano” (“a healthy mind in a healthy office”); planners, architects and designers seem to be placing particular focus on four fronts.

1. Lighting and acoustics: working environments need to offer controlled natural light in combination with artificial lighting solutions that avoid flickering and reduce dazzling, an essential aspect for people who are photosensitive. In the same way, acoustics play a crucial role; the presence of sound-absorbent materials and private and confidential rooms can help to minimise so-called “noise pollution”, favouring concentration.

2. Ergonomics and furniture: modularity and ergonomics are two fundamental characteristics of office furniture. Solutions such as height-adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs and lounge areas for comfort and well-being are just some of the possibilities.

4. Sensoriality: it is important that office space is designed in consideration of the variety of sensory reactions. Colours, textures and materials can be used in a balanced manner to avoid overstimulation or, on the contrary, an excessively sterile environment. The opportunity to personalise one’s own space can help to create a working environment that is stimulating but not oppressive.

5. Technology: smart technology should be integrated to facilitate control, management and interaction with the office environment, as well as specific software aimed at increasing productivity and facilitating communication.

It is an approach that requires a change in perspective and a profound understanding of the various needs of the workers. Creating an inclusive working environment means not only recognising and valorising diversity, but also improving the well-being and productivity of the entire organisation.

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