Elevating neurodiversity in workplace design

by FM Media
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In today’s bustling open-plan offices, distractions are rampant – from lunchtime chatter to impromptu
games. As our understanding of neurodiversity deepens, so does our appreciation for individual
work styles. The evolving post-pandemic landscape requires strategies that embrace every
employee’s needs.

This drive to embrace the needs of every employee in a workplace is demonstrated via Sheldon’s strategic design of global healthcare company Novo Nordisk’s North Sydney workplace. By dividing the office into distinct floors – each tailored to diverse working preferences and neurodiverse needs – the space redefines inclusivity.

Novo Nordisk’s expansion provided an opportunity to reimagine their workspace. Titans in interior design Sheldon
discovered a need to address nuanced working styles, through a meticulous research and planning
process. Separating the floors has a demarcation effect – staff now choose which floor to work on, on
any given day.

The focus floor

The Focus Floor is a haven for concentration amidst the bustling workplace. Library nooks, quiet rooms, and wellness spaces overlook Sydney Harbour and craft a tranquil space conducive to focused work.

Sheldon’s biophilic approach to design is evident through the curved joinery that mirrors the natural
environment. The joinery generates a visual link with nature – proven to alleviate stress and promote

The deliberately low height of the joinery ensures uninterrupted vistas of the harbour, enhancing
the openness of the floor. This intentional design choice elevates aesthetics and champions employee wellbeing and productivity. Moody ambient lighting and rich materiality enhance the calm atmosphere.

“We understand that catering to diverse cognitive preferences and sensitivities is paramount,” say Sheldon’s workplace design strategist Jessica Watson.

“Novo Nordisk’s innovative workplace, with its tailored zones for varied work modes, exemplifies our
commitment to inclusivity. By fostering environments that resonate with every employee, we
enhance productivity and wellbeing across the board.”

The collaborative floor

The ambience on the collaborative floor transforms into a tone of dynamic interaction and innovation.

Modular furniture and tiered seating are arranged to facilitate events and presentations, subsequently nurturing a culture of collaboration and creativity. The space was designed with future flexibility in mind, ensuring adaptability to accommodate the evolving needs of the business. Every element is designed to be interchangeable, providing a future-
proof environment for growth.

Unique workstation styles promote open and interactive working, alongside fostering a sense of inclusivity and
teamwork. The colours and lighting on this floorplate have been curated to create a vibrant and
energised atmosphere.

The open and interactive workspace encourages creativity and teamwork by allowing employees to easily communicate and work together on projects without physical barriers. This setup promotes equal access to resources and opportunities for all team members, in addition to enabling cross-department collaboration. Additionally, the flexible design of open workspaces allows teams to adapt their workspace to different tasks.

Flexibility lies at the heart of Sheldon’s design philosophy

The strategic separation of floors encourages movement and interaction, fostering a sense of community among employees.

“Flexible layouts, modular furniture, and agile design principles empower organisations to respond
swiftly to changing circumstances,” says Watson.

Novo Nordisk’s North Sydney workplace champions every employee’s unique journey through crafting distinct floors tailored to diverse working preferences and neurodiverse needs.

From the tranquil sanctuaries of the focus floor to the dynamic energy of the collaborative floor, Sheldon’s design ethos showcases a commitment to productivity, wellbeing, and innovation.

Photography by Simon Whitbread. 

The Great Room’s Josh Alfafara believes an office should be more than just a hundred bodies in a hundred chairs. 

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