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Just as a student who feels seen and heard will more easily learn at school, an employee who feels his/her needs are met will be more productive at work. What’s one way a workplace can accomplish this? By following the approaches and strategies of an office with inclusive design.
How exactly do you define the concept? According to the Inclusive Design Research Centre’s site, “Inclusive design is design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.” So, at its core, inclusive design seeks to meet people where they are–and to help coordinate with their needs.
Everybody wins when accommodating for diversity. The payoff is a well-rounded gathering of perspectives that can account for more than just the median response. Fostering individuals with varying vantage points is key in creating inclusive design.
This Fast Company article has a metaphor that illustrates the concept in a very digestible way: “Imagine a playground full of only one kind of swing. A swing that requires you to be a certain height with two arms and two legs. The only people who will come to play are people who match this design, because the design welcomes them and no one else. And yet there are many different ways you can design an experience of swinging. You can adjust the shape and size of the seat. You can keep a person stationary and swing the environment around them. Participation doesn’t require a particular design. But a particular design can prohibit participation.”
Inclusion in the Workplace
So, extend this approach to the office setting. Maybe an employee struggling with maintaining attention could use moveable walls to create a closed-in space in an open office. Or another employee battling back pain could use a desk that can alternate between standing and sitting to help combat back stiffness. An employee with anxiety might appreciate a white noise system to muffle conversations. Including whiteboards scattered across an office can help visual learners communicate.
Each member added to a team presents an opportunity for expanded horizons and new ideas. Each person also comes with his or her own nuances and idiosyncrasies. The ideology behind inclusive design is to remain open to finding ways to make each member feel at peace.