We’re all Autistic Now

I have noticed a number of articles recently talking about why people find video conference calls so tiring.

Generally the reasons include:

  • Detecting people’s facial expressions and body movement is harder work.
  • People feel we have to act in front of the camera.
  • People are more anxious in case we miss something or something goes wrong - you cannot relax in a social setting like normal.

As I read the articles I started to realise that a sizeable proportion of the population is getting an insight into what it is like to be autistic. For most autistic people, every day of our lives is like that:

  • We have to place a huge amount of energy interpreting people’s facial expressions and body movement to try and pick up the subtle meanings being expressed.
  • We mask our differences to appear normal’
  • We have raised anxiety levels in social situations as we have made too many mistakes throughout our lives to be able to relax.

This is why we:

  • Are tired at the end of the work day.
  • Have less energy for the extra-mural events companies seem to love.
  • Have less energy to complete the extra mile” required for promotion.

Ironically, autistic people can find conference calls:

  • Less tiring than face-to-face meetings, especially if the video is switched off
  • A more level playing field, as neuro-typicals are slowed down by the limitations of the technology.

Could this insight help us in the hybrid future world of work?

If organisations want to capitalise on the benefits of remote working, but mix it with the collaborative benefits of offices, they should think about who would benefit most from being predominantly remote, and who should be predominantly on site.

Obviously the nature of the work lends itself to one or other of the environments, but then the nature of the people should be considered. All things being equal, it would seem to be sensible to place the people who benefit being online in the remote workforce, and those that benefit from the face-to-face social interaction in the on-site workforce.

Our new post-Covid world looks like it could be very interesting and exciting, but a little consideration could end up benefiting everyone.

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