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Flexible Working Bill: A Win for Neurodivergent Employees

This image shows a female sitting at a desk in her home in front of a laptop, on a video call with several people. There is a cat sitting on the desk beside the woman.

The UK government has recently passed the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, which gives workers the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job, with employers required to consider any requests and provide a reason before rejection. This flexible working bill can include variations in working hours, times and locations, such as part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, or working from home or a satellite office. The flexible working bill also introduces the following new protections for workers:

  • New requirements for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
  • The right to make two requests in a 12-month period as opposed to one.
  • The reduction of the employer decision period from three months to two months.
  • The removal of the requirement for employees to explain the impact on the organisation if they switched to flexible working.

Flexible Working Bill – How Does It Help?

This is a welcome change for many workers who want more flexibility over where and when they work, especially after the pandemic has shown that remote and hybrid working models are feasible and beneficial for many businesses and employees. However, this is particularly good news for neurodivergent employees, who may have different needs and preferences when it comes to their work environment and schedule.

Flexible working can be one of those adjustments, as it can allow neurodivergent employees to:

  • Choose a work location that suits their sensory needs and preferences, such as a quiet home office or a co-working space with natural light and plants.
  • Adjust their work hours to match their energy levels and productivity cycles, such as starting earlier or later, taking longer breaks, or splitting their workday into segments.
  • Manage their work-life balance better by reducing commuting stress, saving time and money, and having more control over their personal and professional commitments.
  • Access more opportunities for career development and progression by being able to apply for jobs that are not limited by geographical location or rigid schedules.

Challenges and Solutions for Remote Management of Neurodivergent Employees

While the Flexible Working Bill is a positive step towards creating more inclusive and diverse workplaces, it also poses some challenges for managers who need to support neurodivergent employees working remotely. Some of these challenges are:

  • Communicating effectively with neurodivergent employees who may have different communication styles and preferences than neurotypical employees. For example, some neurodivergent employees may prefer written communication over verbal communication, or may need more clarity and feedback than others.
  • Providing adequate training and resources for neurodivergent employees who may need extra support or guidance when working remotely. For example, some neurodivergent employees may struggle with organising their work tasks, managing their time, or using new technologies or tools.
  • Maintaining engagement and motivation for neurodivergent employees who may feel isolated or disconnected from their colleagues or managers when working remotely. For example, some neurodivergent employees may need more social interaction or recognition than others, or may have difficulty coping with change or uncertainty.

To address these challenges, managers need to adopt a flexible and individualised approach to managing neurodivergent employees working remotely. Some of the strategies that managers can use are:

  • Asking neurodivergent employees about their preferred communication methods and frequency, and respecting their choices. For example, some neurodivergent employees may prefer email or instant messaging over phone calls or video calls, or may prefer weekly check-ins over daily check-ins.
  • Providing clear and specific instructions and expectations for neurodivergent employees, and giving them regular feedback on their performance. For example, some neurodivergent employees may benefit from having written guidelines or checklists for their work tasks, or having frequent praise or constructive criticism on their work output.
  • Offering accessible and tailored training and resources for neurodivergent employees, and allowing them to learn at their own pace and style. For example, some neurodivergent employees may prefer online courses or videos over live workshops or webinars, or may need more time or repetition to master new skills or knowledge.
  • Creating opportunities for social interaction and recognition for neurodivergent employees, and celebrating their achievements and contributions. For example, some neurodivergent employees may enjoy virtual team-building activities or games, or having a dedicated channel or forum to share their interests or hobbies.

How ToHealth Can Help

ToHealth Ltd. is a leading provider of health and wellbeing solutions for employers and employees. We offer a range of services and products that can help managers and neurodivergent employees to work remotely in a flexible, productive, and healthy way. Some of the ways that ToHealth can help are:

  • Offering online workshops and webinars for managers and neurodivergent employees, to help them understand neurodiversity, communicate effectively, and create inclusive and supportive work cultures.
  • Providing online health assessments and coaching for neurodivergent employees, to help them identify their strengths and challenges, and to create personalised action plans to improve their physical and mental health.
  • Delivering online wellbeing programs and resources for neurodivergent employees, to help them cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that may affect their work performance or satisfaction.
  • Supplying Assistive technology to help neurodivergent employees overcome barriers they may face, as well as coaching and support to help the introduction of these technologies go smoothly.

To find out more about how ToHealth can help you or your organisation, contact us at enquiries@tohealthltd.co.uk. We would love to hear from you and discuss your needs and goals.

Looking for more from ToHealth?

Not only do ToHealth specialise in providing end-to-end Neurodiversity support for companies, but did you know ToHealth also specialise in Employee Wellbeing? Looking to find out more about our Health Screenings? Or interested in our huge variety of webinars and workshops on offer? ToHealth can support you with all of this and more.

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