Insurance Firm Introduces Sensory Maps: What Are They and How Do They Help?

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Zurich UK has taken a new approach, introducing sensory maps in their workplaces. We explore what they are and why the insurance firm has brought them in.

Furthermore, many individuals could benefit from the initiative Zurich UK has implemented. People who this could benefit include menopausal women, neurodivergent employees and employees with mental health issues. We take a look at why this is the case.

In addition to physical changes, other support can be provided to assist employees who require it. We discuss potential changes that could be made and why they might help.

Topics Covered

  1. Zurich UK’s Initiative
  2. What Sensory Maps are
  3. Who Can Benefit From Sensory Maps in the Office?
  4. Accessible Workplaces That Go Beyond Physical Changes

Zurich UK’s Initiative

The insurance firm Zurich UK has brought sensory maps to each site. The maps they’ve created show visitors, including employees, noise levels, temperature, foot traffic and smell around the workplace. They have introduced this initiative to allow individuals to choose where they want to work to fit their needs.

What Sensory Maps are

The charity Sensory Trust explains that sensory maps are a simple technique for identifying varying levels of stimuli. One may encounter stimuli such as sight, sound, smell, texture and taste.

READ: Inclusive Hiring Practices: Welcoming Candidates with Mental Health Conditions in the UK

In the past, these maps may have allowed park rangers to understand which areas produce the most significant stimuli, causing people to pause. As a result, it could have been decided that these areas should have a bench for people to sit on.

To identify the degree of sensory experience in different areas, the charity advises allowing third parties and employees to explore the site. As they work their way around, they should record their findings. Following the exploration, the interested party should better understand the senses most apparent in certain areas. This could determine plans for the site design.

Who Can Benefit From Sensory Maps in the Office?

Zurich UK explained that introducing sensory maps will help employees find a working environment that allows them to prosper. Their UK diversity and inclusion manager, Sally Blake, outlined how these changes will allow employees to find the most comfortable place to work.

These maps could benefit several employees in different ways. For example:

  • Menopausal women who experience hot flashes may decide to work in a cooler environment to alleviate their symptoms.
  • Autistic employees with a high noise sensitivity may choose a workspace with lower foot traffic.
  • Pregnant women affected by certain smells may be required to move away from the source.

It’s important to note that the above list is not exhaustive; many individuals could benefit in several ways. However, the constant for all employees is that allowing them to choose the right workspace ensures a better working environment.

READ: Why HR Needs to Prioritise Training on Neurodiversity

Research from Furniture123.co.uk found that 53% of respondents would decline a job offer if they didn’t like the office or working environment. Therefore, creating a high-quality workplace environment benefits both the employer and employees. As such, implementing a sensory map or designing an office with this in mind from the start could be advantageous.

Accessible Workplaces That Go Beyond Physical Changes

In addition to sensory maps, non-physical changes could be implemented to improve workplace inclusion. Increased accessibility could help support, among others, employees with mental health issues, neurodivergent employees and pregnant women.

Flexible working is one of the ways an employer could increase accessibility and improve workplace inclusion. For example:

  • Allowing autistic employees to begin work early will ensure they commute at quieter times. This may help if they struggle in busy social situations. For people with autism, this would be classed as making reasonable adjustments, which they could be legally entitled to.
  • Employees who deal with stress may find the office environment very stressful. Allowing them to work from home may help reduce their stress levels and boost their productivity.
  • Pregnant employees may find that temporarily reducing their hours helps them through their pregnancy.

As well as flexible working, employers should consider how information is delivered to employees. People digest information differently, and providing several options will help employees understand in a way that suits them.

Furthermore, on top of different learning patterns, employees’ behaviour varies. Therefore, considering different approaches to how work processes are carried out could benefit specific individuals.

Overall, sensory maps and accessible working are key features in a healthy and happy working environment. Employees can benefit from workspaces that allow them to succeed, and employers will see the advantage as productivity increases.

If you want to learn more about how your employer can help you, including how to request flexible working, contact Redmans Solicitors today. They are experienced in the employment law sector and could answer any questions. They could also advise you on how to proceed if your reasonable adjustment rights have been breached.

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