DISTINCT DEMOGRAPHICS

 
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An estimated 1% of the population.

Another important factor to consider is the inclusion of neurodiverse people, specifically those that are on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

ASD is clinically classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder with an estimated 1% of prevalence across most populations.

This section will focus on demographics that are on the extremes of the spectrum in order to understand more about the most vulnerable people using buildings. One of the most significant differences workspaces will face in terms of demographics is the span of the spectrum.

The reason for the large span are three fold:

  1. People are no longer leaving their jobs at the traditional age, they working into their 60’s and 70’s.

  2. As companies become aware of the virtue and advantage of hiring a wide range of cognitive types, more people on the autistic spectrum are entering the workforce.

  3. As it was explained in the “visitors” section, buildings will now have to cater to a wide range of people, including those with mobility challenges. These individuals can range from visual differences, weight differences, or physiological differences.


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NEURODIVERSITY

Neurodiversity is a movement that emerged from the work of Judy Singer, a sociologist and a person on the autistic spectrum. The core symptoms include differences in social communication, the presence of restricted and repetitive interests or activities, and sensory anomalies. It is important to note that whilst ASD is the clinical term, many on the spectrum, prefer to be referred as on the Autism Spectrum, dropping the term disorder.

It is important to note that ASD varies widely from person to person, as every individual has specific co-morbidities, environmental influences, and predilections. Therefore it is crucial that organisations see them as individuals rather than in socio-cultural stereotypes.

Whilst the movement includes those with dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder, and Tourette syndrome, the prominent focus in terms advocacy is on autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

ASD is clinically classified as a neuro-developmental disorder with an estimated 1% of prevalence across most populations. The core symptoms include differences in social communication, the presence of restricted and repetitive interests or activities, and sensory anomalies.

A wide range of companies are taking in an ASD workforce. SAP for example is committing to having 1% of its workforce be ASD by 2020.

The BBC has a programme to make work environment better for people with ASD across their campuses.

Challenges 

  • Mobility

    • ASD can come with co-morbidities that have an impact on physical movement, such as dyspraxia.

  • Sensorial

    • ASD is a spectrum, which means that different sensorial challenges will vary from person to person. However, most will be sensitive to temperature, light, and sound. The sensitivity could mean a preference at either side of the scale, i.e. they might need really bright rooms or some may require low light.

  • Anxiety 

    • One key comorbidity to ASD is anxiety. This can play a big role in how a person interacts with their environment at any given part of the day. For example, if they have had a restless night sleeping their anxiety levels could be affected in which case they might need more time working in an isolated space.

Considerations for third spaces

  • Quiet rooms with adjustable temperature, noise cancellation, and lighting.

  • Clear signposting around the building to help navigate the building.

  • Ready made set of instructions on how to navigate the building amenities and areas. These should be clear and literal to be given to permanent workers and visitors to the space.


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MOBILITY

Those that are visually different can range from mild to full blindness.

Wheelchair or other physically assisted people.

People who are overweight.

CHALLENGES 

  • They could challenges reading signs or making sense of signage.

  • Wheelchair users and such can sometimes have challenges reaching things not just moving around the space.

  • People that are overweight may move less, therefore spaces should encourage mobility and access to different parts of the building should consider the mobility requirements. Especially if additionally suffer from breathing difficulties such as asthma.

Considerations for third spaces 

  • Create clear signage with site lines for various heights as people with mobility challenges often are not a usual height levels.

  • Have the option for auditory instructions for those that are visually different. Ensure that the common paths of the building are free from obstructions or complex navigation.

  • Also consider the distance and time of getting from A to B within the building.

  • Clear access to staircases and wheelchair access.

  • Consider the design and material of staircases so they are a more user friendly.
    Consider the materiality of the floors to ensure they do not present slip, trip or difficulties for those using mobility aides.


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OLDER PERSONS (60-75 years old)

The challenge for employers is not just one of managing older workers, but a workforce whose age range is widening.

1 in 3 workers will be over 50 in 2024

The ageing population has driven the increase in musculoskeletal injuries.

Through time-series data we can see that over a five-year period, an increase in musculoskeletal injuries results in an increase in time off required for surgery.

Mobility challenges due to surgeries and physical wear and tear.

Older age is associated with functional decline in selective aspects of cognitive performance and brain function and anatomy.

Studies are indicating self-report deficits navigation and often avoid unfamiliar routes and places.

The older generation: they often come in and do the same hours, irrespective of the fact that we’ve given them flexibility. They’re still creatures of habit, whereas what we’ve seen with the younger generation is a great requirement for this sort of flexibility

Challenges

  • Sitting for too long

  • Navigating spaces

  • Opening and closing of heavy doors

  • Mobility

Considerations for third space 

  • Ergonomic seating in communal areas that are easy to sit down and get up.

  • Automated doors in main pathways

  • Clear signage

  • Highlight areas where there are different levels, small steps can cause visual confusion and may cause slips

  • Consider non slip material for floor

  • Well insulated spaces with good acoustics


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YOUNGER PERSONS (21-45)

Professionals aged 30-40 year the hardest hit by mental health illness, affected by stagnant wages, rising costs of living and the need to balance professional demands with personal commitments.

Younger people want more flexibility in the work hours, the ability to pick and choose where they do their work.

Challenges/Considerations

  • This demographic is mainly challenged by levels of anxiety and stress therefore looking out for their mental health is a priority

  • Third spaces like gyms, yoga spaces, meditation spaces

  • There is also a need for spaces where people can be coached or have a consultancy session with corporate psychologist. As these types of services rise internally.


 
Josh Artus