For a significant minority, including those with ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia, background noise and bright lighting in the workplace is a problem. But there are ways to improve the working environment.
“These environments can overwhelm and destroy and impair concentration and therefore productivity,” says Nancy Doyle, chartered psychologist and chief executive of Genius Within, a social enterprise that supports people with neurodivergent conditions into (and within) work.
Although offices would ideally be designed to ensure everybody feels at ease, this is not always possible, says Dr Doyle – but adjustments are. “What we can do is create acoustic barriers in our furnishings. And we can encourage people to use noise-cancelling headphones to block out background noise if that’s an issue.”
Other solutions might be more natural lighting rather than harsh overhead lights, she says. These are relatively cheap, quick remedies in the context of losing a valuable member of staff unable to work alongside their colleagues.
Additionally, for people who have difficulty with personal organisation – a trait of dyslexia or ADHD – adjustments could be as simple as recognising how offering the employee in-trays, Post-it notes or an additional monitor could make scheduling less intimidating and screen work easier.