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Leveraging experiential design to create an inclusive work environment

In a recent article by officeinsight, Albert De Plazaola, Senior Principal, Strategy, Americas and Aimee Collins, Senior Principal, Design, Americas share how we work with clients like Bread Financial to create an equitable work experience for all employees, including those who are neurodivergent.

Utilizing a human-centric approach

In the past, we would work with clients to create spaces based on tasks and headcounts, designing activity zones with auxiliary spaces. In today’s world of work, it’s important everyone feels a sense of belonging when they come into the office. People want to come into a space that provides them with what they need during a given day, whether it’s collaboration zones, focus rooms, or areas for respite.

Research indicates that approximately 15-25% of people in the workforce are neurodiverse, and those employees are more likely to experience stress and anxiety in a crowded, noisy office. Albert explains how we account for that in office designs like Bread Financial's:

“When we talk about distractions, not everything is created equal, especially when you’re thinking about neurodiversity. There are nuances; there are different levels of distraction for different types of workers.” – Albert De Plazaola

Designing the workplace like a home environment

“Employees want to have the same control in the workplace that they have at homea ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ when you come to work. No matter how somebody works best, we have given them a place to be able to do that.” – Aimee Collins

Key areas need to enable a seamless and steady workflow, leveraging connective technology and using mobile furnishing like fidget furniture and adjustable lighting so staff can easily select their desired work environment based on their needs.  

Colors, textures, and natural elements are essential when decorating the interior. Softer color palettes can have a calming effect, drawing people into spaces, and making them feel comfortable. Tactility also is important to ensure it has the right feel for everyone.

Amping the workplace experience regardless of footprint 

Less space doesn’t mean people have to give up what they want in their workplace. With Bread Financial, we were able to optimize their campus footprint to achieve their goals and provide a better experience for staff.

“We know people are showing reluctance with coming back into the office. So now, you really need to ramp up the workplace experience, even if you are downsizing. It doesn’t have to be more space, but it does have to be better space.” – Albert De Plazaola

Learn how we’re helping clients like Bread Financial make office changes now to support their diverse workforce and bring them back into the office. Contact us

Read more about Bread Financial's inclusive workplace:

citybiz feature

Work Design Magazine feature