Over four in 5 employees that have neurological conditions have stated that they believe their employer could be doing more to provide them with support whilst working from home.

New research conducted by O2 has shone a light on the positives and negatives of working from home for employees with neurological conditions and highlighted where further support could be useful.

Over a third of workers (34 per cent) stated that they have benefitted from working from home as fewer distractions surrounding them has made them more productive.

However, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of workers stated that remote working during the pandemic has also made them more aware of the challenges they face.

Whilst some businesses may overlook these small details, many workers with neurological conditions found difficulties surrounding several elements of remote working.

Almost half (45 per cent) found it challenging to maintain focus during virtual meetings. A similar number (44 per cent) also struggled with Zoom fatigue, owing to the large number of Zoom calls used to bolster communication among a remote workforce.

Over two in five (43 per cent) reported feeling overwhelmed by the reliance on instant messaging platforms.

The research further showed that awareness surrounding neurodiversity should be amplified in the workplace.

Over two-thirds of business leaders (68 per cent) state they believe neurodiversity should be celebrated in the workplace and that employees with such conditions can be a real asset to a company.

However, almost the same amount (64 per cent) confessed that they have little to no understanding of how cognitive difference can make communication difficult for the employee in question.

Overcoming this barrier is not easy when considering that many people at work feel as though it is a difficult issue to broach. Two-fifths of employers (42 per cent) feel that the topic is not discussed enough while a third (33 per cent) are concerned about saying the wrong thing.

Despite this, the pandemic and the shift to remote working seems to have made businesses and employers more aware of the different working styles among employees.

Almost half of business leaders (48 per cent) said that they have now realised this whilst six in 10 (60 per cent) believed that remote working would have made the working day more challenging for neurodiverse employees on their teams.

Employees with neurological conditions also shared what steps could be taken that could help support them whilst at work.

Three in five (60 per cent) stated that increasing awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace would be useful while over half (54 per cent) wanted more flexibility to accommodate their needs.

Almost half (49 per cent) wanted to have more options to try out different working styles that better suit their conditions.

Kelly Grainger, co-founder and director at Perfectly Autistic, providing Autism training, consultancy and resources for businesses said:

The key thing to understand with neurodiversity is that people’s brains are different and are going to respond differently to the same things within the workplace especially when having to adapt to more remote working. But going beyond increasing understanding, it’s essential that businesses can not only talk the talk but also walk the walk when it comes to neurodiversity support.

It’s also important to remember that some people won’t even know that they are autistic, for example I didn’t receive my diagnosis until I was 44 years old. Others won’t want to disclose due to fear of being discriminated against. So as an employer, having a level of understanding and ensuring your whole workforce is aware of how neurodiversity can cause people to work in different ways is key to making those people feel respected, supported and ultimately valued.

Catherine Leaver, HR Director, O2, said:

Having a neurodiverse workforce is really important to having a well-rounded and inclusive team with different talents and perspectives.

To obtain these results, O2 surveyed 1,115 employees and 250 business leaders.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.