Thanks to Emily Kinsella, Marketing Executive, at The Cyber Scheme for co-authoring this guest blog on making the workplace neurodiverse-friendly.

As the cyber industry grows, it’s crucial to accommodate those joining the sector. We need a consistent stream of talent to continue innovating within cyber. To attract and retain this talent, there are certain working practices that have a proven success rate, particularly when creating a neurodiverse-friendly working atmosphere.

According to Harvard University, neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.

Whilst the term neurodiversity encompasses the diversity of all people, it is often used to describe conditions including autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. The other end of the spectrum is often referred to as neurotypical. 

It can be easy to carry on business as normal without implementing new policies and procedures. But taking the time to consider small alterations in how your business functions to cater to neurodiversity will positively impact the entire workplace. We’ve put together a list of five ways in which you can build a neurodiverse-friendly workspace.

Create a more flexible workplace

Not everybody works best within the usual 9-5 workday. To create a more positive working environment it is a good idea to offer flexibility as to when your employees complete their working day.

Pen testing does not need to be a 9-5 job. In reality, cyber-attacks do not follow a 9-5 working day schedule. To mimic real-world attacks a fully flexible working day would benefit both the employee and the test scenarios they are carrying out. 

Create quiet workspace

For some neurodivergent people, sounds can be very overstimulating. You can help with this by creating quiet workspace areas, where employees can go to work with the expectation of it being a quiet and calm environment where they will not be disturbed.

Alternatively, if this is not possible for your office space, consider providing noise-cancelling headphones so people can drown out the hustle around them or listen to their safe sounds. Headphones are not just a trendy accessory; they are a vital piece of equipment.

However, when it comes to pen testers this is less of an issue as most work from home or on-site.

Accepting the need for silence in this particular work environment, and respecting that they require this in order to carry out the necessary work, is required for employees to feel fully supported.

Allow hybrid work

For some neurodiverse people, being out of their home environment in itself can be a stressful and overstimulating experience. You can combat this by allowing employees to work from home. Pen testing is a great career to enter as a neurodiverse person that prefers home working, as an industry standard this is a role that encourages and accepts hybrid working as the norm.

Alter social expectations

When interviewing for roles, you’re often told how important it is to have a strong handshake and hold eye contact. For some neurodiverse people, this is extremely uncomfortable. This doesn’t make them any less of a good employee, it just requires you to change what you expect from social interaction.

Be respectful of peoples differences

The best thing you can do to make the workplace a more welcoming environment for neurodiverse people is to respect and fulfill the accommodations they ask for. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, there is a reason they have requested this change. 

It’s important to remember one style of workplace will not fit all. As we move forward as an industry, these accommodations will become the norm. In the meantime, it’s important to bear diverse requirements in mind. Not all of the above changes apply to only neurodiverse people, everyone enjoys a bit of quiet from time to time. The future is neurodiverse*, it is time we as an industry catch up to speed. 

*The Future is ND – Championing neurodiversity in the creative and tech industries