Image Credit: Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
Online Autism Profiles and Workplace Assessments?
6th November 2020
We have recently been prompted to think more about how Aspiedent’s services have had to adapt to the current restrictions placed upon our working lives.
In the old days, before that dystopian ‘new normal’ that is lockdown, we always did our workplace assessment for autistic employees face to face. Occasionally, the manager(s) could not be present, and we spoke to them via phone or by video link.
There are advantages to this: we get to experience the working environment of the autistic employee. This is important for several reasons
- We experience the workplace for ourselves and thus are able to ascertain potential sensory issues
- Because we can see the physical location, we are better able to ascertain what would be possible and what would not be possible regarding reasonable adjustments for any sensory issues.
- We can experience the atmosphere of the working environment for ourselves. Is it friendly, hostile, or something in between. Is it relaxed or frantic? In practice, though we have only ever been called in to help in friendly working environments: other types of working environments are much less interested in supporting an autistic member of staff to become a real asset to the business.
- We often saw the manager and the autistic member of together, when there was good relationship between them. This works well because it saves time and because it enables us to encourage open and frank discussion between them.
There is another reason why it is helpful for us to visit the offices of various businesses: it helps us to advise autistic jobseekers as to what kind or working environment would suit them. This helps prevent them seeking to obtain jobs where the working environment would be intolerable for them.
But this is not possible anymore. In addition, the working environment for many people has changed and more people work from home. Some autistic people prefer to work from home because they have more control over their environment. Others miss the social contact they get in the office. Autistic people tend to be isolated and the office could be the only social contact they get outside their family.
Note that ‘social contact’ for some autistic people just means being around people who are working together. It does not necessarily mean actually socialising with people, although that is important for some autistic people.
So, are there any advantages to doing autism workplace assessments online?
Well we can think of a few:
- We do not have to travel to the workplace assessment and this provides more flexibility in the arrangements. It means that everyone does not have to be available at the same time, because talking to the employee and their managers can happen throughout the day, or even over few days if necessary. It also means that the assessment does not have to be fitted into when a meeting or conference room is available. As such, times can be at their convenience.
- Not having to travel to a workplace means that we are less constrained in locations where we do workplace assessment. We operate in the Leeds/Bradford area and thus can cover a significant area of the county with ease. But no travel means that we can cover the whole of the UK and potentially do workplace assessments outside the UK as well – potentially the whole world.
- Some autistic people prefer to talk to people over a video link. It can reduce the overload of speaking face to face and can make it easier to speak to strangers. This is an aspect of lockdown that has made life easier for some autistic people. When everyone is forced to communicate via video link, it opens up opportunities for them that were not available before. Perhaps when/if we can have a normal life again, it will become more reasonable to make such an adjustment for people.
- We have the potential to be able to record the workplace assessment more easily. This means that we can review parts of the assessment if necessary, if it turns out that we did not quite understand – or we cannot make sense of our notes.
Perhaps in the future we will be able to offer people who are within travelling distance of the Leeds/Bradford area a choice of face to face or remote assessments, while being able to offer our services potentially across the world.