Is your workplace focused on accessible office design? A modern office should be accessible to everyone, especially employees with disabilities. When looking for a job, people with disabilities consider a company’s culture just as much as salaries and benefits.
Building an environment that supports your staff can boost their wellbeing and productivity, and it’s always best to consult with your employees to ensure their needs are met as you embark on an accessible design project.
In this article, we’ll offer some essential tips to ensure your office is accessible for people with physical disabilities or diverse health needs.
1. Accessible office design: General building features for accessibility
When designing an accessible office, you’ll need to think about every aspect of your staff’s working day.
Remove any physical barriers that can hinder employees with disabilities from accessing and navigating the workplace. Consider:
Entrances and exits
Ensure entrances are wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators if needed. Install automatic doors for ease of use.
Maintain clear pathways throughout your office to accommodate people using mobility aids.
Design accessible restrooms that meet the required dimensions for wheelchairs and mobility aids, and include features such as grab bars and accessible sinks.
Provide staff with adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs to accommodate people with different physical needs, and leave space for wheelchair users.
Lighting and contrast
Optimise your lighting to reduce glare and shadows, and use contrasting colours to aid people with visual impairments.
The Buro Mantra with a standing desk and accessories creates an ergonomic workstation setup.
2. Accessible office design: Furniture to accommodate disabilities
As you approach your accessible office design project, you’ll need the right furniture to accommodate people with different disabilities.
Your meeting spaces should be designed to encourage ideas, communication, and group work between all of your staff.
Provide flexible seating options to accommodate people with mobility aids or specific comfort requirements, and ensure seating allows for clear sightlines and easy communication.
Here are some ways furniture can help with accessible office design:
Modular furniture and soft seating
Modular furniture can suit different design styles and needs. Buro’s range of modular seating, including the Konfurb Block, creates inviting spaces for employees to collaborate. Flexible soft seating options with large seats like the Konfurb Star will keep collaboration spaces open and accessible.
Ergonomic desk chairs
Ergonomic office desk chairs support the body and mind, providing a perfect platform for your employees to work. Ergonomic chairs are adjustable and designed to suit a range of different body shapes. They also promote great posture.
Furniture for breakout spaces
Create accessible breakout spaces where employees can take breaks or engage in informal discussions. Ensure these spaces are inclusive and allow wheelchair access.
The Konfurb Block Family features large seats encouraging people to use the more casual space in a way that suits them.
3. Accessible office design: How ergonomic chairs can benefit disabled employees
Ergonomic office chairs have great features like adjustable height options, armrests, lumbar support, and breathable fabric, all of which can help people with disabilities stay comfortable.
Investing in ergonomic office chairs can make your workplace more accessible and inclusive. Here are five ways ergonomics can help:
Ergonomic chairs can make a big difference, particularly if you’re in a consumer-facing industry. Being able to lower your chairs at reception points or customer-service stations to meet the eye line of a wheelchair user could improve that person’s experience.
Good posture can lessen the risk of injury for people with disabilities. Chairs that are easier on the body can reduce absenteeism due to injuries and help with productivity.
Ergonomic chairs can help people with disabilities operate more freely and independently in and around the office. Having adjustable, adaptable furniture will boost confidence and make your building a happier workplace.
Sitting in a seat all day can lead to discomfort and pain for any of us. Providing an extra layer of comfort for your employees can make desk work easier for anyone who may struggle in upright positions.
Ergonomic furniture is effective in reducing physical strain among people with disabilities. By distributing weight evenly and improving posture, daily tasks can be completed with less effort.
Other ways to adopt accessible office design
To make your workplace truly accessible, you’ll need to factor in even the smallest details.
Here are some extra tips on accessible office design:
Get your lighting right
Some disabilities aren’t as obvious as others and may not be physically apparent. A large number of people work with visual impairments and struggle with inadequate lighting.
Remember to keep your workplace bright, using natural light where possible to reduce eye strain and impact the visually impaired.
Footrests are fantastic
Footrests for office chairs can alleviate pressure on the feet and improve blood circulation. They can help people with circulation issues including peripheral arterial disease, and can also be beneficial for workers struggling with diabetes.
Ergonomic keyboards can help
For most people, a flat keyboard is perfectly fine, but some of your staff might benefit from using an angled ergonomic keypad to do their typing. They can reduce wrist strain and pressure and provide support to the wrists.
Ergonomic keyboards or support pads can benefit employees with joint pain, those in wheelchairs, or workers with conditions such as cerebral palsy.
The Buro Metro II 24/7 High Back is a heavy duty chair.