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FM Guide: Creating Accessible and Inclusive Workplaces

Blog FM Guide: Creating Accessible and Inclusive Workplaces

Eryka Chowaniec

Written by Eryka Chowaniec

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Contents

Understanding Accessibility and Inclusivity
Key Areas of Focus

  1. Physical Accessibility

  2. Technology and Tools

  3. Sensory Considerations

  4. Emergency Preparedness

  5. Flexible Working Arrangements

Implementing the Changes

In today's world, inclusivity and accessibility are not just buzzwords but essential criteria for creating environments that welcome everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. Facility managers play a pivotal role in this by ensuring that buildings are designed and maintained with everyone in mind. Here's a concise guide on why and how to achieve this.

Understanding Accessibility and Inclusivity

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. Inclusivity goes a step further, ensuring that all people, regardless of their abilities, are able to participate fully in society. For facility managers, this means creating spaces that are navigable, usable, and beneficial to all.

Key Areas of Focus

Clear communication is key when it comes to hybrid working. It's important to establish clear expectations with your employer or team leader about when you're expected to be in the office and when you can work remotely. You should also be clear about what's expected of you in terms of productivity and communication. This will help you stay on track and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

1. Physical Accessibility

Ensure that all areas of your facility are easily accessible to people with disabilities. This includes providing ramps, accessible restrooms, and elevators with Braille buttons. Consideration should also be given to the layout of workspaces to ensure they are navigable for people using wheelchairs or mobility aids.

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2. Technology and Tools

Leverage technology to aid inclusivity. For instance, ensure your organisation's website and digital tools are accessible to those with visual or hearing impairments. Additionally, provide assistive technologies like screen readers or hearing loop systems as needed.

3. Sensory Considerations

Implementing design elements that cater to sensory needs, such as quiet zones for individuals who are easily overwhelmed by noise, or providing lighting options that can be adjusted to reduce glare, can make a significant difference in creating an inclusive environment.

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4. Emergency Preparedness

Create and enforce comprehensive emergency plans and evacuation procedures that prioritise the safety and needs of all employees, including those with disabilities. Ensure these plans are accessible, clearly communicated, and practiced regularly, so every team member is prepared and knows their role during an emergency.

5. Flexible Working Arrangements

Recognise the diverse needs of your workforce by offering flexible working arrangements. This could include flexible hours, the option to work remotely, or providing adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs to accommodate various physical needs.

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Implementing the Changes

Making your facility more inclusive and accessible might seem daunting, but start with an audit of your current facilities to identify areas for improvement. Identify areas that need improvement and prioritise these changes based on urgency and impact.Include employees, especially those with disabilities, in the planning process. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on what changes are most needed and effective. Small changes can make a big difference in making everyone feel valued and supported.

Creating accessible and inclusive environments is not just about compliance; it's about contributing to a society where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can thrive. As facility managers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to lead the charge in making our spaces welcoming to all.

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