25 May 2020
As entire businesses and organisations work from home, the transition, if not done deliberately, could leave neurodiverse teams to feel unsupported and stressed which can take a toll on their wellbeing and productivity. With the right support system, however, neurodiverse teams can especially thrive in the new environment and work better than ever.
ExteND Testing is a Perth-based software and data quality engineering enterprise where over 70% of our employees are neurodivergent. Here we share three tips that will help businesses work more effectively with their remote neurodiverse teams.
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is that managers cannot walk around the office and see how everyone is doing.
At ExteND we strongly believe in supporting the well-being of our neurodiverse employees.
To facilitate this in a remote environment, our dedicated job coaches conduct monthly one-on-one sessions with team members to ensure they feel supported and have a safe and comfortable environment to work.
In addition to this, our job coaching team runs a monthly group training session where they discuss strategies to maintain good physical and mental well-being. Group sessions also encourage team members to communicate and help each other by sharing strategies they have been using to stay motivated and productive.
Outside of planned sessions, ExteND Testing employees have unlimited access to job coaches to maintain their wellbeing and stay productive.
Most meetings are now conducted remotely using tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or WebEx. Despite the accessibility of these tools, online meetings can be overwhelming because we have to work harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. For neurodiverse employees, this can result in sensory and information overload.
At ExteND Testing, video meetings are avoided if they can be done in writing, which most neurodiverse employees prefer. When verbal conversations are necessary, they are followed up by written notes that team members can refer back to. In video meetings, turning on the camera is optional. Some employees prefer to turn their screen to the side to avoid information overload.
The different ways of thinking of neurodiverse individuals lead to better ideas and better results. However, it can also result in misunderstanding and anxiety if effective communication is not facilitated properly.
At ExteND Testing every team member has a self-authored how-to-work-with-me guide which is shared with everyone on the team and clients. This guide contains information such as preferred methods of communication, typical response time, and preferred method for receiving feedback. This simple tool eliminates ambiguity about working preferences amongst team members and helps everyone work more effectively.