If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught everybody, it’s that offices and businesses are able to be more accessible – because if they can make people work remotely at home, they can make other adjustments for comfort. With the proper training, your managers and your business leaders can learn how to handle a team that consists of people with many different abilities and disabilities. The key is in the training, and the key is in wanting to make sure that everybody who works within the business is comfortable.
Training on how to make the workplace more accessible has to include everybody involved in that workplace, whether they are on reception or CEO. It’s vital that you’re able to speak to your management team if you feel that they are not accessible enough for your needs, but also it’s up to your management to ensure that they are reading documents such as AS 1428.5:2021 and ensure that they are making the correct movements so that they are becoming a more inclusive and open workplace. Without the right amount of inclusivity, that business is not going to thrive. Below, we have put some tips together to make your workplace much more accessible. Now you know how important it is to train your managers, it’s time to make the right steps and change things up.
- Work on removing the physical barriers. Even things such as stairs and small steps can be a physical barrier. If your office is on a high floor, it should be accessible via an elevator, and the office should be just on the floor. You shouldn’t be asking people to climb stairs and steps if it’s not possible for them. If you do have an office that has an upstairs and downstairs, you can ensure that the main work hub is downstairs. Removing physical barriers can easily make your workplace much more accessible, and this includes the parking outside with spaces for your office reserved for those with disabilities so that they can get to the doorway faster and more comfortably.
- Speak to the IT team. Assistive technology is growing in businesses, from ensuring that there is access to devices and software with speech recognition, to ensuring that you have investment in braille keyboards or displays. There is screen software and sign language apps and there’s even ways that you can ensure that those who are hard of hearing can be comfortable. All of these things are minor adjustments for the business at large, but they make a massive difference to the people working for you.
- Perform individual assessments. One of the best ways to ensure that your business is inclusive and accessible for all, is to ask your employees what they need to make the business more accessible for them. Sometimes it can be making changes with a height adjustable desk, or seeing if the washrooms could be more accessible and removing barriers to being able to complete tasks is important. Lowering buttons in the elevators or offering wider kitchen spaces is a more accessible option, too.
- Offer the remote working option. The pandemic proves that most businesses were able to accommodate remote working, and there’s nothing wrong with continuing that long after the pandemic is over. The chances are that the staff who require more accessibility in the office already have a house that is adapted to them. If you are able to offer home working, do that. It will make a big difference and you won’t have to make any adjustments to the office.
- Provide a peaceful space. If you have a break room, or a side room of your office where you can make a soundproof and peaceful space, do that. Often you will find that sometimes people just need to step away for a moment to have a breather, especially to deal with long-term and high anxiety. If you create the space for your staff, you give them somewhere they can decompress so they don’t lose control. It will make you a much better employer.
- Be more proactive about accessibility needs. You have staff that are going to be working hard in your business and hoping to make a difference in your company, and if they’re going to work hard for you then you should work hard for them. Keep on top of the needs of your staff, and you will find it much easier to create an office that is comfortable and accessible for all.