In a hybrid work landscape, understanding and accommodating neurodivergent individuals is more important than ever. This piece explores neurodivergence, a term encompassing conditions like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, and the significant benefits remote work offers to neurodivergent employees, highlighting the need for flexible work arrangements and tailored accommodations to foster an inclusive and productive environment. 

What is neurodivergence? 

According to the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), neurodivergent individuals (15 to 20% of the population) have neurocognitive functioning that diverges significantly from the dominant societal standards of neurotypical individuals (80 to 85% of the population).  

Some of the conditions that are most common among neurodivergent individuals include, but are not limited to:  

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 
  • Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
  • Down syndrome 
  • Dyslexia 
  • Dyspraxia 
  • Tourette’s syndrome 
  • Dyscalculia 

How does remote work affect neurodivergent workers? 

The rise in remote work since 2020 has been a strong benefit to neurodivergent workers, many of whom feeling empowered to create a personalised workspace that meet their sensory and environmental needs, as the traditional workplace environment was not designed for neurodivergent workers. 

Being able to control the environment (heat, light, noise, sitting positions, uninterrupted worktime, etc.) to help with sensory needs due to different medical conditions is vital for neurodivergent employees. Therefore, one rule (three days per week) cannot apply to all disabled and neurodivergent people, and while the majority of a team could adapt to this environment, neurodivergent workers often require more flexibility.  

Building a strong and supportive remote work culture (opens in new tab) is essential for neurodivergent employees to participate and be productive in the workplace. Part of that culture means offering remote work flexibly so they can receive the adaptations they need to succeed. 

Types of accommodation and making a request 

If you are neurodivergent and concerned that the mandatory in-office mandate for three days a week may impact your health negatively, notify your manager in writing and speak to a medical professional on the adaptations you need. You can also contact Labour Relations for assistance in requesting accommodation in the workplace. 

Accommodation is tailored to the individual abilities of employees, so it’s difficult to provide a comprehensive list of accommodation strategies. However, some of the conditions that are most common among those who describe themselves as neurodivergent may include the following adaptations:  

Adaptability and flexibility 

  • Hours of work due to effects of medication or appointments 
  • Break times and length 
  • Redefining or restructuring tasks according to your limits and strengths 
  • Work travel requirements 
  • Adaptive technology (ex. speech-to-text software for all devices, spelling and grammar software) 

Attention to detail and distraction 

  • Work area (ex. relocation or modifications to space to reduce distractions) 
  • Work equipment and tools (ex. noise-cancelling headphones) 
  • Work location (ex. teleworking from a more optimal environment, closed-door office) 
  • Break times and length when concentration declines 
  • How tasks are assigned (ex. requesting instructions in writing for clarity and to retain detailed information) 
  • Organization of your work (ex. breaking tasks into smaller segments, creating a checklist that includes each step of a task to be completed) 
  • Ensuring regular, supportive communication and collaboration, including frequent encouragement to stay motivated 

Multitasking and strict deadlines 

  • Duties and tasks (ex. performing one task at a time, performing only the core duties of your position, avoiding tight deadlines, requesting enough resources to meet deadlines or competing priorities) 
  • Organization of your work (ex. breaking tasks into smaller segments, creating a checklist that includes each step of a task to be completed) 
  • Managing your workload (ex. meeting with your supervisor daily or regularly to discuss and adjust tasks, workload, priorities, and deadlines) 
  • Accessing training on time management skills 

Social interaction or exposure to stressful situations 

  • How you interact with others (ex. attending meetings by telephone, collaborating via online technology, communicating in writing) 
  • Accessing closed captioning and recorded meetings 
  • Break times and frequency to allow for rest from social or stressful interactions 
  • Accessing training and resources on managing confrontational or stressful situations, developing coping tools, emotional intelligence, or engaging more effectively with others in the workplace 
  • Establishing requirements and limitations with your supervisor, colleagues, and/or subordinates to manage interactions and exposure to stressful situations (ex. processes for providing instructions and feedback when in an emotionally stressful situation at work) 
  • Accessing support during the workday (ex. from peers, supervisor, coach/mentor, therapist, EAP, or physician) 
  • Seeking approval from your supervisor to not attend work-related social functions 

Memory for recall 

  • Accessing retraining and/or reorientation 
  • How tasks are assigned (ex. requesting instructions in writing) 
  • Organization of your work and recall deadlines (ex. creating a list of tasks to establish priorities, accessing a digital organizer, creating reminder lists) 
  • Managing priorities and deadlines (ex. meeting with your supervisor daily or regularly to discuss priorities and to stay on track) 

Stand up for neurodivergent workers 

While the three-day in-office mandate will negatively impact the majority of the CT Community, this mandate will disproportionately affect neurodivergent employees. Even when accommodations are made, they are often imperfect and can be difficult to obtain in the first place, since neurodivergent employees can, for example, often face multiple barriers to receiving a formal diagnosis. 

To help advocate for your fellow neurodivergent CTs, submit your testimonial about how the in-office mandate has impacted you here.

For any questions about neurodivergence and your rights, please contact