Last month, we took an in-depth look at how to assist introverts in the workplace. But these individuals aren’t the only ones who can have difficulty concentrating in a busy office. Employee with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) also struggle to be productive in today’s open office plans. Noises that some people block out can be very disruptive to workers who already have a tough time staying on task.
Examples of intrusive noises include:
- Coworkers talking
- Foot traffic through the office
- Elevator doors
- Fax machines, photocopiers, and printers
- Telephones ringing
Is ADHD Covered under the ADA?
Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. That really depends on the type and degree of limitation a person experiences in going about their daily lives. However, accommodating these workers makes sense regardless of the degree of disability. Like any employees, those with ADHD will simply do higher quality work and be more productive in the office if their needs are being met.
How Can Office Furniture and Design Help Workers with ADHD?
The Job Accommodation Network has a number of recommendations for reducing auditory and visual distractions. Locating the employee away from distractions is a good first step. Providing noise-canceling headsets or a white noise machine is also helpful. The space itself should be enclosed with cubicle walls, preferably with sound absorption panels. In an example provided by JAN, “A journalist with ADHD experienced sensitivity to visual and auditory distractions. The employer provided the individual with a private, high-wall cubicle workspace in a low-traffic area. The employer added an environmental sound machine to mask office noise.”
In an open office layout that has desks but not cubicles, installing a single cubicle might pose a real challenge. However, our desk mounted privacy panels can be installed on any standard office desk in less than 5 minutes using our universal brackets.
For workers with ADHD, choose privacy panels that feature:
- Good acoustic properties (designed to prevent sound from traveling into the employee’s workspace from surrounding areas)
- A textile covering in a soothing, neutral color
- A tall height, so that the worker cannot see visual distractions while in a seated position and so that others cannot easily look over the top to interrupt the employee’s work
The solution is simple and inexpensive—a win-win for you and your employees.