Whether you’re a small operation with only a few employees or an international business of hundreds, there are numerous benefits for an employer to offer a disability friendly office space to employees with certain disabilities.
Disability-friendly offices also provide the opportunity for the company to hire a talented team member with disabilities if such a need arises.
Even small changes can result in drastic differences which help to increase equality in the workplace and enable those who have difficulty with mobility to also have a chance at career success. For this reason, it’s essential to keep the needs of individuals with physical disabilities in mind while you’re planning out your new office fit out designs.
The way you choose to do this will have far reaching effects on how your employees and management interact with one another, both in the working environment and in-house. After all, many employers aren’t even aware of the importance of keeping disability diversity in mind in their operations.
What is a Disability Friendly Workplace?
One of the key elements in an employer’s business strategy is understanding what a disability-friendly workplace is. A Disability friendly workplace allows an individual with a disability to participate and contribute to the company, which leads to more work hours being produced.
An effective disabled workplace also promotes a more positive image for the company – a sense that it values and supports its employees’ disability and needs – and demonstrates to potential employers that they take their obligations to individuals with disabilities seriously.
Why a Disability Friendly Workplace is Vital
Why a Disability Friendly Workplace is Vital to the Success of a Company is something that has been debated by many people over the years. The concept is fairly simple, but has often been overlooked or ignored in the past. Essentially this means making sure that disabled people are able to participate and perform within a work environment that is designed for their particular disabilities.
In a nutshell, a workplace should be wheelchair and scooter friendly so that disabled people can enjoy working in a standard workplace without fear of injury.
There are many benefits for a company or office to offer friendly environment to disabled workers.
First off, when a person who is disabled enters a work environment that is accessible to them, they become more engaged and excited about their prospects in the work place. As a disabled person becomes more confident, their productivity also increases. This is important to any business and will prove to be invaluable in helping the business succeed.
Also, another benefit of renting an office space that is friendly to disabled workers is that it will help promote morale within the company.
The workplace is not only the physical location of the business. It’s also the attitude of the employer that create a safe and secure place for disabled individuals to function.
With a safe and secure working environment, a person’s performance at work will increase. This increase in performance will lead to an increase in revenue as well. All of these things result in a successful working relationship between the business and the disabled person.
Benefits of Having a Disabled-Friendly Design
When fitting out a new office space for a business, one of the most important things to look at is whether or not the facility will be able to serve the needs of disabled users, in both terms of ease of use and safety.
When disabled employees are able to access all areas of the business premises, they can therefore increase productivity and efficiency, as well as minimising any risks posed by hazards on the floor. This is why many businesses are investing in providing suitable and secure workstations and working environments for disabled employees, in order to maximize their productivities
However, while many businesses are looking at new employments to maximise their profits, few realize just how important it is to make sure that disabled employees can also access all areas of the business premises, and are not discriminated against when working.
It’s critical and necessary to incorporate disability friendly workplace design into the planning and layout of your office.
An effective and safe wheelchair ramp, for example, can go a long way towards ensuring that disabled people are given the chance to move freely about the workplace, while avoiding risks such as slip and fall accidents.
Similarly, having an adjacent unisex shower area with proper barriers free design is another simple but effective way to ensure that disabled users can take full advantage of the facilities available within the workplace.
Additionally, a well-designed disability friendly office space can also help create a safer working environment, by minimizing any risks posed by objects or equipment that could be potentially dangerous or awkward for disabled people.
In an ideal world, every workplace would be fitted with sufficient railings and footpaths which make it completely possible for a wheelchair bound person to move safely between areas, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
By taking the time and putting in the effort to ensure your workplace is fully able to accommodate disabled employees, you are showing your staff and customers that they are welcome and valued. This, in turn, will encourage them to participate more fully in the company whilst doing their job and increase the chances of finding new, high-paying clients.
Common Challenges Faced by Companies with Disabled Employees
There are many challenges faced by companies with disabled employees, one of which is the matter of office fit out and furniture. It can be quite a challenge for companies to find furniture that is both visually attractive and ergonomically suitable for disabled people.
This can often be a difficult task as most furniture is designed to be extremely comfortable for most people. But this doesn’t mean that it should not be visually appealing for those people who are visually impaired.
The main problem with office fit outs for disabled people is that they tend to be forgotten about or given the brief once the company has moved onto its next project.
The other challenge companies facing is that they often move people from their current premises into temporary offices when undertaking major projects. The effect of this is that they do not fully investigate the suitability of the area that they have allocated as office space, leaving it unclear whether the space is easily adaptable to the needs of disabled people.
It is vital for companies to fully investigate the potentials of the area and ensure that they have made suitable arrangements for disabled users to be able to comfortably inhabit the space. A company needs to focus on the needs of disabled people when planning their temporary disability space requirements.
If the space is poorly suited to disabled users, then this could potentially lead to expensive mistakes that could further delay projects or even worse compromise the project altogether.
Another challenge faced by companies with disabled workers is that many tend to overlook or at least undervalue the need for appropriate equipment. For instance, many offices use sign-boards to communicate with clients, but there has been a recent trend for companies to disregard the benefits of having a tactile whiteboard rather than an electronic one. Such a board can offer a tactile means of communicating to clients and can help make the workplace more accessible.
However, if the sign-boards used are not ergonomically friendly, then this could lead to further challenges for disabled workers and could lead to them being unfairly dismissed.