The Case for Neurodivergent Workspaces

Apr 18, 2024

by Deanna Parkton

As workplaces strive to support employees with varying learning styles and differences, increased attention has been paid to neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders). 

The most important aspect of neurodiversity to remember is that it captures a full range of function and traits. Each individual may have different tools and strategies that work for them. Generally, a primary challenge for neurodivergent individuals are sensory processing differences. This can relate to sights, sounds and how spaces are set up to navigate. 

While there are many ways that organizations can support neurodivergent employees (see our blog about supporting autistic co-workers), optimizing the space that employees work is an especially valuable one. M Moser, a workplace design company that specializes in designing spaces that accommodate neurodiversity, reported that up to 20% of people are considered neurodivergent. 

For some neurodivergent individuals, spending a lot of time under LED or fluorescent lights, or being in crowded spaces with a lot of noise can be especially overstimulating. These types of stimuli can be physically and emotionally draining, which makes staying on task difficult. Some accommodations or tools for those with neurodiversity are using ear plugs or headphones in noisy spaces, using fidget tools or other sensory tools or even rearranging furniture to make the space work for them (provide more space, or provide an enclosure for feelings of safety).

By including a variety of accommodations in work spaces, the space can work for all individuals. This type of strategy has been implemented as a way to not only accommodate those with differences, but to increase productivity and a feeling of comfortability for all employees. M Moser shared strategies that include: 

  • Low-stimulation environments
  • Social spaces for stimulation breaks
  • Quiet rooms for intense concentration
  • Low traffic areas to alleviate social anxiety
  • Collaborative hubs to support extraversion
  • Active zones to encourage movement

IE, an integrated furniture and workplace design company, recommends additional strategies for inclusive spaces, such as visual aids with clear signage to help individuals navigate the space more easily and flexible workspaces with standing desks, pods or project tables. 

By offering a variety of spaces and environments for employees to choose from throughout their day, the space is essentially providing options based on varying needs. There may be a time of the day where utilizing a social space to move around and chat with others is helpful. Other times of day, one may need a quiet room to concentrate on a specific task. 

These types of workspaces benefit all employees and have gained traction over the last decade. Some call it “modern workspaces” – workspaces that promote choice, connection and collaboration. While it is not unique only to the neurodivergent community, it is one that is especially supportive of neurodivergent individuals as it provides options for employees to work in spaces that serve their brains. These types of initiatives are driving diversity and inclusion efforts which continue to be needed in many organizations. 

A noisy and overstimulated mind cannot be productive or creative. By implementing spaces that provide opportunities for optimum functionality, both the employee and company benefit from increased efficiency and overall work happiness. Best of all, a variety of work spaces provides an inclusive environment for everyone. 

For more ideas on how you can strategize your work, consider working with a career coach. A coach can help you identify strategies to face challenges head on. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here.

Deanna Parkton is a writer, career coach and educator with a passion for professional development and work wellness and happiness. With a focus on self-reflection, she works with individuals in their quest to reach their career goals as well as satisfaction in work-life balance. You can find more of her writing at and she can be reached at