According to recent research, only about half of Canadians with disabilities are employed either full-time or part-time. This statistic can be improved if employers simply make a few changes to their office layout and design.
While newer buildings must comply with basic accessibility standards, there are a lot of ways you can make your office more supportive of employees or candidates with physical disabilities or mobility challenges. In fact, you could be missing out on top talent if job seekers are passing up your office because it doesn’t support their needs.
Design your office space in a way that allows employees with disabilities to achieve their top performance and productivity. These four office design strategies can help make your office a place in which employees with mobility issues or physical disabilities can thrive.
#1: Height Adjustable Desks
This type of desk is one of your most valuable assets in designing an accessible office. Employees who use wheelchairs can adjust the desk to be the height they need it. This means that one of the most basic features of their job – sitting at their desk – can now be adjusted to support their needs. Furthermore, other employees can benefit from being able work standing up. This is a worthwhile investment since it provides benefits for employees with and without disabilities.
#2: Open Layout
The layout is another key feature in making your office as accessible as possible. You should create wide walkways between desks or workstations to allow room for wheelchairs or other mobility devices. It also helps to do away with private offices in favor of a layout with less barriers. This makes moving from one area to another much more efficient and simpler for someone using a wheelchair. You can still provide quiet spaces and meeting rooms for individual work. Just remember that the less barriers and obstacles there are, the easier it is to navigate in a wheelchair.
#3: Accessible Furniture
When designing an office for accessibility, choose your furniture wisely. Resi-mercial design is cropping up everywhere and you likely have plans for comfortable furniture to put in lounge and common areas. Don’t hesitate to provide this type of furniture – just make sure that it’s relatively simple to transfer to these seats from a wheelchair. For example, pod chairs that hang from the ceiling could be very difficult or impossible to get into from a wheelchair or for someone with mobility issues.
#4: Accessible Washrooms
While minimum accessibility standards will likely require that some of your washrooms be accessible, you can improve your office space by making every washroom accessible. If your space allows, it’s a great way to ensure that employees with disabilities will be able to use any washroom in the office. This helps to reduce wasted time traveling back and forth to an accessible washroom and can make your office more comfortable and attractive for employees who need to use them.
Having an office that isn’t supportive of people with disabilities can mean that you are bypassing a significant portion of the available workforce. Nobody wants to work in an office that makes it difficult to do their job. Unfortunately, this is exactly what you are offering to candidates with physical disabilities when you don’t take steps to make your office as accessible as it can be.
If you already employ someone with a physical disability, think about whether you are fully supporting their needs. Are you just meeting the minimum requirements? Or are you making their office environment as comfortable and effective as possible?