3 Ways Focusing on Office Accessibility Can Boost Your Reputation and ROI
Making your office maximally accessible to people with disabilities or limitations is not just the right thing to do -- it also gives teams additional communication and productivity tools.
As a legally blind CEO of my own motivational speaking/coaching company, founded in 2008, I know firsthand the value that improved accessibility in the office can bring. Throughout my years of living and working, I’ve learned that listening and responding to what people need is how you build synergy within a workspace, and that making accommodations for all team members and providing them with the tools to thrive sets a business up for success.
1. Prioritize connection
Communication is vital for improving accessibility because it allows people to feel heard, which moves projects forward smoothly and quickly. When a team works smarter and more cohesively, its quality of service improves, and when employees communicate well, they also take advantage of opportunities to support one another. So, create an environment in which connections are paramount. For example, a long-term employee might readily help a newer team member learn the ropes, while a tech-savvy employee might assist a coworker struggling with software. Team leaders, meanwhile, could find opportunities to eliminate anxiety or pressure when someone is having an off day. The point is to provide resources or mentorship wherever you can, including moving team members around to fill in gaps when someone isn't on their A-game.
By providing open communication channels, employees will feel encouraged to bring forth ideas or request assistance. They will also go the extra mile to help a company soar, speak highly of it after hours, and remain longer in their jobs.
2. Make room for continuing education
As a business's team leader, you know your employees' strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you have a team member who is responsible for using new software, but is struggling with daily computer tasks, in which case hiring a trainer will help alleviate this stress. By providing a staff with access to education, you allow them to work with greater ease, resulting in a more accessible workspace. Or, perhaps your customers primarily speak a different language, and your employees would like to connect with them on a more personal level; investing in foreign language classes for team members would demonstrate that you are invested in both client and worker needs. Customers will then be more likely to become loyal fans and recommend you to friends, which will further boost your reputation.
Another example might be if an employee has taken on tasks that require presentations, but is terrified of public speaking, in which case enrolling them in suitable courses would allow them to develop more assurance. The takeaway is that helping staff acquire broader knowledge and skills will not only allow them to evolve as professionals, but also boost their appreciation for work, as well as their loyalty.
3. Supply the right tools
An important part of accessibility is providing the right tools for a team to grow. For those with physical limitations, you might consider installing ramps, visual aids or narration on computers. If someone has chronic pain, purchasing a stand-up desk might relieve their stress. These kinds of accommodations make coming into work less daunting and help team members feel seen and supported.
Also, keep abreast of new services or devices, and consider attending seminars and/or bringing in specialists to explore new technology. Assess the equipment or programs you currently use and compare them to what’s on the market, then make appropriate updates. Even purchasing a small appliance like a new coffee machine or a healthy snack bar can make a big difference in productivity and morale. When employees have the right tools, projects flow more smoothly and a company maintains positive momentum.
By offering smart accommodations like these — ones designed to support and inspire a team — your company can make a meaningful impact, and leave a memorable legacy.
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