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How Indoor Office Plants Help Create a Neurodivergent-friendly Office

Create a Neurodivergent-friendly OfficeDiscover how the power of plants is transforming workplaces into neurodivergent-friendly environments and learn how Natura's expertise can help your business create a more inclusive and productive workspace.

Neurodiversity has gained significant traction in workplace inclusivity and diversity discussions in recent years. Top companies are no longer ignoring neurodiversity in their organizations. As this awareness grows, innovative approaches are emerging to create more accommodating and inclusive work environments for neurodiverse individuals: one such approach is the integration of plants into workspaces. By recognizing the unique benefits of biophilic design, companies can foster an environment that not only values neurodiversity but also promotes well-being and productivity for all employees. This article explores the role of plants in shaping neurodivergent-friendly offices, from sensory comfort to overall enhancement of the work environment. Additionally, it discusses how Natura assists businesses in evaluating their biophilic solutions, ensuring that they consistently cater to the unique needs of neurodiverse employees.

Understanding Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Understanding neurodiversity starts by acknowledging the broad range of cognitive variations, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia. Despite their distinct characteristics, individuals with neurodivergent conditions typically perceive environments in a manner that’s different from neurotypical individuals. This unique way of experiencing the world can bring challenges and strengths to the workplace. These conditions lead individuals to perceive environments differently from neurotypical people, offering both challenges and strengths in the workplace.

However, the traditional office setup can sometimes present obstacles for neurodiverse individuals, such as: 

  • bright lighting
  • open office layouts with constant noise 
  • rigid routines

These can all lead to sensory overload and hinder the productivity and well-being of these employees. This is where the concept of a neurodivergent-friendly office comes into play.

The Role of Plants in Creating Neurodivergent-Friendly Offices

A growing body of research has explored the benefits of incorporating plants into office spaces. The biophilic design movement highlights the positive impact of greenery on mental and emotional well-being. For neurodiverse individuals, plants present a distinct avenue to tackle sensory challenges and enhance cognitive functioning.

  • Stress Reduction

Research shows that plants placed in strategic areas in your office reduce stress by 12%. This impact holds particular significance for individuals with autism and ADHD, who frequently exhibit heightened sensory responsiveness.

  • Improved Concentration and Productivity

A key challenge for neurodiverse individuals is maintaining focus in environments with distractions. Plants contribute to improved concentration by enhancing cognitive functioning. Studies by Green Plants for Green Buildings show that contact with nature improves task performance by boosting attention and focus. This benefit is vital for those with ADHD and similar conditions that affect attention and impulse control.

  • Sound Reduction 

Work environments can be noisy, posing difficulties for all employees, particularly those who are neurodiverse. Research indicates that general noise can lower task accuracy by up to 67%, irrespective of neurodiversity.

“As an adult with autism, I have often felt out of place in a world filled with loud and overwhelming stimuli. My heightened sensitivity to noise and other sensory inputs makes it challenging to engage fully in social environments that many neurotypical individuals easily navigate.” - Marie O'Riordan, the Global Director of Public Relations at EML Payments. - Forbes 

Plants have natural sound-absorbing qualities that minimize echoes and background noise, providing a tranquil environment. This reduction in sharp noise fosters increased serenity, heightened focus, and enhanced well-being, enabling neurodiverse individuals to experience greater comfort, concentration, and productivity in their workspace. Have a look at our infographic to view the plants that are commonly used for noise cancellation. 

Creating a Neurodivergent-Friendly Office with Natura's Expertise 

Creating a Neurodivergent-friendly office that incorporates plants involves thoughtful planning and consideration. Natura conducts a complimentary assessment of your office space, tailoring plant selections to align with the existing office layout, décor, and acoustic requirements.

Below is a general outline of our approach to selecting and integrating plants into office design:

  • Assessing Noise and Space

Before selecting the plants, we conduct a comprehensive assessment of the office environment, including factors such as noise levels, lighting conditions, available space, and walkways. This assessment provides essential data to craft a design that aligns with the business’s specific requirements.

  • Plant Selection

Following the assessment and considering the available space, we carefully select the most suitable plants or design moss walls for maximum effectiveness. 

  • Strategic Placement

Plants and moss walls are strategically positioned near sources of noise, along corridors, or in meeting areas to establish natural sound barriers. This placement is designed to enhance the office's acoustic environment and reduce noise levels. 

  • Aesthetic Integration

We ensure that the chosen foliage or moss walls harmonize with the overall office design and aesthetic. Various planters, arrangements, and decorative elements are thoughtfully incorporated to integrate greenery into the workspace.

  • Maintenance Planning

Maintaining the health of the plants is vital to their continued positive impact on the office environment. Our free maintenance plans, which include watering, pruning, and pest monitoring, are designed to ensure the plants remain vibrant and supportive of the workspace.

Our Best-Practice Approach to Neurodivergent-Friendly Biophilic Solutions

We adhere to best practices when crafting biophilic design solutions that are both inclusive and supportive of neurodiverse individuals.

Engaging Neurodiverse Insights

We involve neurodiverse employees or representatives in our design process, leveraging their invaluable perspectives to ensure our solutions are authentic and enhance their well-being and comfort.

Expert Collaboration

Partnering with neurodiversity advocacy groups, research institutions, and organizations specializing in workplace design, we deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by neurodiverse individuals in office environments.

Flexible Workspace Solutions

Our designs incorporate flexible workspaces featuring portable plant containers that can be easily adjusted to accommodate neurodiverse employees. These movable containers allow for customization, facilitating inclusion in quiet zones, sensory rooms, and personalized spaces.

The journey towards a neurodivergent-friendly office is a testament to the evolving landscape of inclusivity. Embracing the principles of neurodiversity in office design not only enhances the workplace experience for individuals with neurodivergent conditions but also extends its positive impact to all employees. Recognizing that everyone is unique and may have varying preferences when it comes to workspace challenges is crucial. By prioritizing inclusive design to accommodate the rich diversity within our modern workforce, your business can enable everyone in the team to grow and succeed in a positive environment. 

Ready to transform your workplace into an inclusive and neurodivergent-friendly environment? Reach out to us today.