With 15% of the UK population considered neurodivergent, knowing how to support neurodiverse employees is vital for both employer and employee

The brain is a complex organ, and everyone’s brains function differently. However, there are two broad categories: neurotypical, and neurodivergent.

Neurotypical refers to people whose brains function in the way that society expects. In contrast, neurodivergent is a term used to refer to those whose brains function differently to this so-called ‘typical’, and covers people who have well-known conditions such as dyslexia, autism or ADHD. Around 15% of all people in the UK are neurodivergent.

The neurodivergent community has always experienced lower employment rates than the neurotypical community

Unfortunately, the neurodivergent community has always experienced lower employment rates than the neurotypical community, often due to a lack of understanding or adjustment. Fortunately, remote working is helping change this, as it removes the pressure of being in a heavily people-focused environment, such as an office.

This new way of working creates more employment opportunities for neurodivergent employees, which is also beneficial for employers and society as a whole. But as with all employees, correct support is needed in order to help them thrive. Here, we look at four ways employers can support a neurodiverse workforce.

1. Provide assistive technology to support different ways of working

A lot of tasks that many people take for granted in the workplace may be challenging for those with additional needs. For example, employees with dyslexia may find creating long documents on strict deadlines difficult. This is understandable and easy to circumvent, thanks to assistive technology, which may allow the employee to dictate the work instead of typing it.

Assistive technology can accommodate many of your neurodiverse employees’ special needs and preferences. Have a one-to-one conversation with your employee – they’ll be able to work with you to find out the best option for them.

2. Support varying communication techniques

Neurodiverse employees also have varying needs and preferences in the way they communicate. For example, dyslexic employees may prefer audio and video calls in order to avoid written communication. In contrast, employees with Asperger’s may find video calls challenging and instead prefer texting and chatting.

Clear communication in the workplace is important, regardless of the situation. It is important to discuss your neurodiverse employees’ communication needs with them and adapt. Don’t be afraid to try something new – you may find that you need to adjust your processes.

3. Maintain routine & structure

A more flexible schedule is often one of the main benefits of remote working. However, a dynamic workplace is not ideal for some neurodiverse employees. For example, employees with ADHD take some time to get used to how things function at work, and keeping up with regular changes would be difficult. This is why establishing a long-term routine and structure is advisable.

Employees with ADHD take some time to get used to how things function at work

However, this doesn’t mean a rigid routine for everyone involved. Instead, every neurodiverse employee should have a routine that suits their unique needs and preferences as long as they meet the company’s productivity expectations.

4. Practice conciseness & forward-thinking

As mentioned, clear communication in the workplace is important. Neurodiverse employees interpret messages differently, depending on the medium used. For example, thoughts may be lost in translation when using written messages. This is why it is important to utilise the employees’ preferred communication channels and be as clear and concise as possible.

Neurodiverse employees interpret messages differently

Introducing sudden changes to ongoing projects can also be confusing for neurodiverse employees, hurting their productivity and derailing your schedule. Being forward-thinking and planning for everything to expect during the project will help create a more stable working environment, giving your neurodiverse employees enough time to complete their projects.

Supporting a neurodiverse workforce is possible

Supporting a neurodiverse remote workforce is possible, and it can benefit your company in many ways. Ultimately, it is important to understand your neurodiverse employees’ unique needs and preferences and implement solutions to accommodate them.


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