You walk through the door into work and are immediately hit with a multitude of voices and noises of all different volumes and pitches, they’re impossible to block out. You and your colleague’s hot desk, so you go and sit at your designated seat for the day which is under an overpoweringly bright light. You try to focus but aren’t allowed headphones and the commotion in the office is just too loud. There is absolutely no way you can focus on anything with all the sensory distractions, but there is nowhere you can go to escape the noisy, bright room. You feel anxious, discomfort and extremely irritable – what do you do now?
Okay, what about this scenario…
You wake up feeling very under the weather. All your designated work clothes are making you feel suffocated and you’re overheating without even exerting much energy. You call your manager to let them know the situation and ask if you can work from home. They react very unsympathetically and remind you of the training you are running today. You go into work, extremely uncomfortable and hot. You start training. Everyone is watching as you get hot flushes and struggle to conduct training. You feel lost for words and anxiety washes over you for the rest of the day.
Do you feel as if you are unable to empathise with either of these scenarios? These are examples of what individuals with ADHD and Menopause could experience if their employer doesn’t provide reasonable adjustments for them.
Workplace adjustments exist to provide support to employees to ensure they have the capability to do their job through particular circumstances or events. These adjustments are anything from changes to policies, working practices or physical layouts, or providing extra equipment or support.
Many different individuals require reasonable adjustments to the way they work. We’ve provided a few examples with things for employers to consider.
Note for employees: We know if can be incredibly difficult to talk about. However, in order for employers to provide adjustments, it is important for individuals to be honest and open with their managers/ HR. This way you can discuss what will be of help to you and mean you don’t have to experience distress and discomfort at work.
Physical & Invisible disabilities
A quiet, private area for individuals with mental illness and learning disabilities to take a break if they feel overwhelmed.
Flexible hours for medical appointments/ treatment or those who’ve gone through a difficult period of time – phased return, readjustment period.
Physical changes to the workplace, like installing a ramp for a wheelchair user or an audio-visual fire alarm for a deaf person.
Letting a disabled person work somewhere else, such as on the ground floor for a wheelchair user.
Equipment/ software changes, for instance providing a special keyboard if they have arthritis.
Allowing employees who become disabled to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working.
Providing an accessible car parking space closer to the building entrance if possible.
Distributing someone's breaks more evenly across the day.
Working from home or hybrid working.
Finding a different way to train someone if they find classroom-based training difficult.
Working from home or hybrid working for focus.
Being considerate of sensory issues i.e. changing the lighting above someone's desk or workstation, allowing employees to wear headphones to block out noises in the office.
A quiet, private area for individuals to take a break if they feel overwhelmed or need to focus without distractions.
Doing things another way, such as allowing someone with social anxiety disorder to have their own desk instead of hot-desking.
Staff education and training.
Flexible or hybrid work.
Allowances on uniform – breezier clothing for those that experience hot flushes.
Supplying fans or moving desks to a cooler part of the office.
More time to prepare for meetings etc.
Option to take more breaks.
Quiet, private space.
Accessible toilets and cold water.
Consider menopause and wellbeing champions.
Free sanitary items in workplace bathrooms.
Flexible / hybrid working for those with severe monthly symptoms.
Understanding and flexibility for absence and medical appointments.
Inclusion of women’s health in training and risk assessments.