With more people in the workplace now having a disability of some type, there has never been a more important time to consider how your office shapes up. Even if you think that you have a good awareness of people’s needs, it can be difficult to consider all of the possible needs people might have. If you want your company to be considered disability friendly, then you will need to do a lot of work to make it happen.
Do Your Research
Before you think about what your office needs, you should start by undertaking some detailed research. Many aids that you can install in the office can benefit people with a variety of conditions, so it is important that you try to find out what the needs of most disabled workers are before you start. You should also be looking at your existing staff to see if they are being given all the help and equipment they need to do their job correctly. It is important to remember to be committed to making these changes, and not to try and brush over some of the problems.
Speak to Your Workers
A vital part of helping your existing employees is to ask them what they need. You shouldn’t try to guess, because everyone is different, even two people with the same condition could have different needs. Call all of your employees with disabilities in to discuss their job and if there is anything that will make it easier. If you can make your employees jobs better, they are also likely to become more efficient and productive. When you are hiring new workers, the emphasis should also be on you to discuss any needs that the employee might have. It is vital to remember that not all disabilities are physical, so all efforts should be made to ensure you consider both physical and mental health.
The layout of your office is one of the fundamental issues with many companies. The desire to save on office space by having desks close together limits the access for those in wheelchairs or with walking aids. An open plan office with wide aisles is the best approach for your office, but, there are other measures you need in place. Some companies operate a ‘hot desk’ policy that means anyone can occupy any desk they choose. While this might be more efficient, it isn’t necessarily good for wheelchair users. You should think about leaving a desk for each wheelchair user free so that they don’t need to adjust their desk constantly. It can also help those with anxiety or depression to have the same desk available each day. It will help to reduce the stress of not knowing where they will sit.
There are now health and safety regulations that require a company to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. However, you can take things a step further to make life even easier. Having doors open automatically can be a great help to those in wheelchairs or on crutches, and this needs to be the case in any room they will need to enter. Lift access is also a requirement under law, but trying to arrange their work to be on one level will make it easier for them during the day. Perhaps as a consideration to everyone especially those with limited mobility, you could arrange for lunch service to visit the building each day. It will make it easier for everyone, and it will save them time. For the health of everyone especially those with mental health issues, avoid allowing people to work through lunch or eating at their desk in favor of asking them to use a communal room.
The desks and chairs that you provide for your workers will not only make a difference to those with disabilities; it will also affect everyone. Poorly designed chairs can cause issues to those that had no problems before, so investing in good quality furniture is a must. You should also be looking at adjustable desks and an adjustable standing desk converter to help those that need to work at a certain height. Along with desks and chairs, it is also important to have accessible common areas with supportive chairs and other areas such as the meeting rooms and boardrooms. That will negate the need for workers to be wheeling their chairs around the office for meetings.
Easy to Read Monitors and Information
Some workers may have needs that are not so physical yet are just as important. For example, those with a visual impairment can often have problems reading monitors or information that is available in paper form. You need to provide the necessary adjustments to them such as braille or large font information and having naming tags set up on their computer. These tags will read out the icon they hover over making it easier for them to select the right one.
Working from Home Option
Many companies are now offering a working from home option to their employees. It makes those dealing with children able to do their work even if their children are off school or on holiday. The same can also apply to those with disabilities, those who have difficulty getting out of their home can still play an active role in the company without having to feel pressure to attend the office. The same applies to those suffering from mental health problems. They will still be able to work if they are having a bad day and are unable to interact with people socially or are feeling depressed. Not only will it be helping your workers be more productive, but it will also cut sick days and improve the efficiency of your business.
Many people with physical and mental disabilities would like to work if there were provisions for their needs. By looking at your office environment and making changes, you can encourage workers to be the best they can be regardless of their disability.