Starting with Nectar HR has been a great opportunity, but for me it was my first time in an office as an adult – and a neurodivergent adult as that. Being autistic, ADHD and dyslexic, I didn’t know how that would translate into the workplace – but after settling down here, I thought I would share how I manage my neurodivergences to thrive in the environment.
Let’s start with Access to Work! I applied soon after I started in September, and I was contacted at the end of January by a lovely case worker and after the initial delay, everything moved so quickly! I had no idea what support I would be able to get, or what support could be provided so I asked for a workplace assessment. This was two days later, and they went through everything I may struggle with, and the assessor suggested things that could work. Some things I have been able to access on account of my autism, ADHD, and dyslexia through Access to Work include having a support worker to provide Autism Coping Strategy Training, fidgets, speech to text software and an additional monitor. Additionally, I can struggle getting public transport, and Access to Work are able to reimburse you for taxi journey’s taken to and from work – something I didn’t even realise! Access to work is a grant you do not have to pay back, and your employer will be reimbursed for expenses, but may have to contribute up to 20% of the costs – so definitely something to look into!
I have found ways to manage my differences at work. I always make sure I have blue light glasses in my bag – these help with looking at a screen all day, the slight orange tint helps with my dyslexic processing and the fact it dulls the lights helps with overstimulation. Noise cancelling headphones are also a great tool to use – I switch between using Loop Quiet earbuds, to quieten background noise but to also allow myself to hear conversations around me. I am also a major fan of over ear noise defenders, and I frequently use Bluetooth ones to listen to music on the way to work without stressing about remembering two types of noise defenders.
Creating routines is also a big way I manage at work. I like to be the first person in the office, and I always start my day setting up my workspace, making a drink for myself (and a cheeky tea for Mel if she’ll be in) and going through my emails and making a to do list. I like to have this to do list written on paper somewhere I can see as a physical reminder. I also like to have consistent days in the office, consistent hours I will work, and I do the same thing each time I have a lunch break. Knowing I have a work routine that is the same helps me know what to expect, and I can be more flexible knowing when things will change. I also find it useful to wear the same things in the office – for example, I wear the same “Monday outfit” every Monday – another small routine that helps me find some consistency at work.
I also love to write everything down! With my ADHD, I can be extremely forgetful! I have a giant notebook with sections which allow me to make a lot of different notes and keep things together, and with its largeness and pinkness, it is hard to misplace or forget. However, making notes anywhere can be useful – whether that is a document on word, using Microsoft to Do to note tasks or using notes on your phone, keeping notes can be a massive help to future you.
I feel really lucky with how supportive my workplace has been. I told Sonia, my boss and the interview panel about my neurodivergence and they told me how happy they would to support me and this followed through to when I started. From asking me how I communicate best and receive information to enable me to understand clearly, to accommodating my sensory needs in the office, and allowing me to feel comfortable enough to share with other members of the team things I may need extra help and guidance with, the support from Nectar HR has made all the difference with how I’ve coped at work.
The biggest advice I can give is to speak out. Know you can get reasonable adjustments, know you are able to be supported and know that as a neurodivergent and you can have adaptions to succeed in the workplace. Speaking to your employer or your HR team and letting them know what you will need support with and asking for help can be a big step, but is reasonable and your right.