This article offers some suggestions for working from home as an autistic employee
If you’re working from home as an autistic employee, it is important to establish habits that will support you in staying organised and productive.
Autism And Working From Home: How To Stay Organised And Productive
73% of autistic working adults say they’re more productive when working from home, a recent Unison survey reveals. Although working from home can improve work/life balance and wellbeing, for autistic people , the change to daily routine and environment can initially be stressful. In turn, this can decrease motivation, focus, productivity, and self-regulation, as well as hamper your ability to plan, prioritise, multi-task, and avoid distractions. So, if you’re considering working from home, it’s important to establish solid healthy habits that help you avoid triggers and maximise your wellbeing and productivity.
Create a routine (and stick to it)
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to stay at your desk late into the evenings, but this isn’t good for your mental health or work/life balance. In fact, around 80% of people with autism have executive function differences, which makes it difficult for them to complete tasks and manage time, with even seemingly simple tasks appearing overly complicated. As such, autistic people can be prone to overworking in order to compensate for a generally slower work pace due to extra processing time. To avoid falling into the trap of overworking, set an alarm to go off at the end of the working day. Although you don’t necessarily have to stop working immediately when you hear the alarm, it’s useful to have the reminder. You can then begin the process of saving your work and shutting everything down for the evening.
Similarly, you can also use an alarm as a reminder to take regular breaks throughout the day – whether you need to drink water, stand and stretch or walk around, or use the bathroom. And, if you have a packed schedule with back-to-back calls, you’ll need to be even more proactive about taking breaks as needed. So, make it known at the beginning of a call that you’ll need to hang up a few minutes early to have a quick break before your next call.
Create a peaceful office
Creating a calming office free from stressors is essential when working from home. So, consider painting the walls of your office space in light, uplifting shades – compared to dark or bold colours, light shades are soothing and less distracting and stimulating. While off-white is an easy option, you can also opt for pastels like light blues, greens, lavenders, and yellows to add vibrancy, while also promoting a sense of peace and wellbeing. Similarly, it’s also important to keep decor and accessories to a minimum, particularly if you have a sensory processing difference . Plants, in particular, are a great choice for a home office. In fact, in addition to looking good, plants can even help improve your focus, concentration, and memory retention, and therefore create a productive working environment. Be sure to choose indoor plants that suit the amount of direct sunlight your office gets. String of hearts, snake palm, and spider plant, for example, do well in most conditions and are particularly easy to care for.
Communicate with your manager
Working from home isn’t always easy for everyone. Some days may not go as planned, or you may find yourself having an unexpected sensory overload, for example. So, if you’re in need of support or advice, contact your manager. In fact, you may also want to schedule a catch-up with your manager once a week to discuss your tasks and responsibilities for the upcoming week. And, if your manager is unable to do this for whatever reason, you can always email them a list of key tasks you’re planning to accomplish that week instead. It is also a chance to touch base and chat about how you’re getting on with your tasks, and whether or not you need any extra support in the week ahead.
Working from home can be a huge positive, as long as you’re able to manage and minimise any difficulties that can arise. Setting a schedule, creating a peaceful office, and regularly communicating with your manager, can support you in staying organised, productive, and motivated while working from home.
If you need help looking for services for an individual with an autism spectrum condition, we will do our best to help. Click below for the Autism Placement Support Service.