Championing neurodiversity in the workplace

Championing neurodiversity in the workplace

Daresay Team - September 10, 2016

If you spent more than an hour or so wandering around our Stockholm office, you might come across Dennis Fougner, our capable IT Manager who fixes all the annoying techy problems that baffle the rest of us.

Dennis was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder before joining the team, but that hasn’t stopped him– or us – from finding a way of working that benefits everyone. In fact, it’s only taken a few little tweaks to the way his role functions. For many people on the neurodiversity spectrum, which also includes dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia and other neurological conditions, it’s often the case that – given the right environment – it is possible to flourish within a diverse workforce.

“Martin Kurtsson, who is one of Daresay’s founders and owners, told me that my diagnosis and my personal characteristics were not a problem at all. On the contrary, he saw it as more of a strength than a weakness.”

Dennis Fougner IT manager at Daresay

For example, for Dennis it’s important to be left alone when he is working, and that colleagues are patient if he doesn’t understand undertones and social codes. “The most important thing for me is to sit as remotely or secluded as possible”, Dennis says. “So I have my own corner of the office landscape, which makes my job a little easier.”

Because a noisy, creative environment can be distracting, and the commute into the city stressful when traffic is bad, Dennis also has the opportunity to work from home. On the days when Dennis isn’t in the office, he’s come up with an ingenious way to make sure he’s still switched on and available for the team. In the place of ‘real Dennis’ you’ll find his “virtual presence device” – a screen, dressed just like him, in his seat. On the screen is Dennis, live-streamed from his home.

When Dennis is awayIn the place of ‘real Dennis’ you’ll find his “virtual presence device” – a screen, dressed just like him, in his seat. On the screen is Dennis, live-streamed from his home.

Dennis also believes that it’s important recruiters and employees are completely open about neurodiversity issues from the very start.

“I was headhunted by Martin, one of the founders and owners of the company, who also suffered from both depression and panic disorder, and told him early on about my diagnosis and that it might be tricky working with me. He told me that my diagnosis and my personal characteristics were not a problem at all. On the contrary, he saw it as more of a strength than a weakness”, says Dennis.

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