With increasing demand to add accessibility in the workplace, many companies ask the best way on how to make the workplace more accessible. Most often, companies update their office spaces to remain relevant, get press, and attract up and coming talent in the process. Yet far too often, they miss the boat on one extremely important attribute, accessibility. Sure, they may check the boxes on what’s required by municipal and provincial building codes, but it rarely spans beyond that. To every construction or renovation job, there should always be a separate workplace accessibility checklist to ensure all contractors know how to make the workplace more accessible.
As a result, a pool of prospective talent and possible current employees is left on the sidelines. Of course, it’s not just about accommodating employees and staff, certain businesses serve customers and clients at their office. Imagine if a prospective client arrives to find that their own mobility and usability is challenged from the moment they approach the offices of a commercial property? The business relationship can be quickly turned away. Luckily, the oversight that we have addressed above can be assessed and fixed. You are here after all, in search of answers for how to make the workplace more accessible through renovations, retrofits, and upgrades. Let’s review.
4 Ways On How to Make The Workplace More Accessible
Creating an inclusive environment
Your fire escapes, restrooms, and main entrance might already be fitted with proper disability access in the workplace. Because such standards in the building codes have long been enforced and dictated the necessity. But it’s not enough. Move from room to room, workstation to workstation, in addition to break areas and any other space that is supposed to be used by staff and clients alike. Ask yourself if all wheelchairs, walkers, and knee-scooters (etc.) can move from space to space with relative ease? If not, someone will invariably be singled out, and left out. While widening doors, entryways and removing elevated step-ups in your renovation will make a big difference, consider something more dramatic that better opens up the office.
Many businesses are choosing to knock down entire walls to create a more communal environment and accessibility in the workplace. This not only creates more usable space, studies prove that in a corporate environment it fosters better communication, collaboration, a freer flowing of ideas. By removing literal barriers to entry, you remove figurative ones too. As a result, your office will enjoy greater accessibility, and productivity.
Free Flowing (and accident-free) Flooring
Flooring in traditional office spaces can not only be challenging for those with physical challenges, it can be downright dangerous. For one, carpets may be impossible for wheelchairs to navigate over. A great start on how to make the workplace more accessible is companies should tear out and replace challenging carpet with accommodating flooring. In addition, certain types of flooring are more slippery than others. Those who cannot quickly correct their balance can sustain injury. Slip resistant floors must be and should be installed. The last thing you want is a preventable injury to happen in your workplace.
Read this article on accommodating flooring in the hospitality industry
Hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and ceramic flooring alike must have a manufacturer stated friction coefficient of around 0.5. While slip resistance is factored for outdoor wheelchair ramps, similarly it must also be considered for indoor ramps in the office to increase accessibility in the workplace.
In addition, flooring renovations must consider what the surface is like today, and tomorrow. Day to day use impacts the integrity of the floor. For the durability and longevity of the flooring, we look at the AC Rating. An AC rating is seen on laminate and vinyl floors in the office. It is a measure of resistance to abrasion, impact, and stains, all of which can pose a challenge not only to those with physical limitations, but all staff, clients, and visitors.
More Thoughtful Lighting Installations
How to make the workplace more accessible isn’t only about rectifying mobility issues related to biomechanics. Those with vision impairments (blurred or limited vision in low light) also require accessibility in the workplace upgrades. Which requires retrofitting some lighting installations or integrating a new lighting design. Your accessibility in the workplace upgrade should look to better leverage natural lighting by day, and be more thoughtful with artificial lighting at night. The latter is also important for rooms and areas that do not enjoy access to windows. On that note, a renovation could factor in the addition of windows for outdoor facing walls. Don’t be afraid because it can be done with a professional contractor like Shift Accessibility contractors.
If your workplace still uses incandescent or halogen lights, replace them with modern lighting systems. Old incandescent lights that were commonly used until around 2010 are not only energy inefficient, they have a correlated colour temperature (CCT) of 2800K (Kelvin) and sunlight registers and 5000k. Thus can provide poor contrast and colour perception in some applications. For example, if you are working with your hands in a warehouse with machinery, it is crucial to have good visibility to be aware of your surroundings. Not only is good lighting important for accessibility in the workplace, it is a safety practice for all manufacturing and industrial businesses.
Today, the technology on LED lighting is remarkable by providing many options in colour temperatures, intensity (lumens), colour rendering index (CRI) and sizes. And best of all they are energy efficient. Learn about LED lighting
Employ IoT for All of Your Employees
The internet of things (IoT) has forever changed how offices function for the better. Lighting (as per above), security, heating and air-conditioning, audio/video, and on-premises appliances must all be made more usable to all. If Smart office technology is not introduced to better manage systems some of your staff may continue to face unnecessary obstacles. For instance, simple things such as adjusting room temperatures when burning the midnight oil at the office on a cold winter’s night can be a challenge when HVAC controls are literally out of reach.
Read more on using IoT to enable the modern workplace
Smart technology can change all of that, as staff can access controls via their smartphone or laptop. That’s just one small example of how IoT can transform their experience and hoe to make the workplace more accessible. Consider IoT when planning for your accessibility in the workplace renovation, and ask contractors about working Smart installations into the project. The investment today will pay for itself decades to come.
How to improve accessibility for disabled
What is workplace accessibility? Accessibility is often thought of as straightforward changes to the physical environment, such as installing a ramp into an entryway or adding handrails. But having an open-minded perspective on how to make the workplace more accessible is designing products, providing services, and altering work environments in order to make your business accommodating to people with disabilities. Just as there are many different types of disabilities, there is a wide variety of potential accommodations available.
It is important to mention that not all disabilities are visible and such should be recognized in your accessibility in the workplace upgrades. Hidden disabilities can be physical such as hearing loss, chronic pain, fatigue disorders, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, or fibromyalgia. They can be neurological like learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), epilepsy, and others. They can even be mental like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. There are many practices you can incorporate into you plan on how to make the workplace more accessible by recognizing every impairment.
Accessibility in the workplace
Want to learn more about how to make the workplace more accessible? If your company or development is in the Winnipeg or surrounding areas, we encourage you to contact Shift Accessibility for a consultation and a workplace accessibility assessment. We are Winnipeg’s commercial accessibility renovation experts.
Read our article about barrier free washrooms in the workplace