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DIY and diversity dividends – and an invitation

Tackling some DIY this weekend?

You’re not alone!

May is when almost half of all homeowners are motivated to tackle DIY in May. Here are three tips to improve the lighting on a budget – and do your bit for the planet too – May and June are top months for homeowners to take on home improvement tasks.

  1. Upgrade to LED: Switching from fluorescents and halogens to LED lights can save up to 80% on energy use in a year, equivalent to driving the average car 145 miles – Lighting.

  2. Less is More: Instead of a one-for-one replacement, reconsider the placement of lights, especially in areas like kitchens with a standard rectangular grid of downlights. Taking out some lights to create zones of interest – on a counter-top or island – can save energy and make the room feel more spacious too.

    Light Distribution and Perceived Spaciousness: Light Patterns in Scale Models.

    Use blank cover plates for any removed fixtures.
  3. Turbo-Charge Daylight: Clean windows can increase light by up to 8% –Reduction of Light Transmission by Glazing with Atmospheric PollutantsUse a reflective paint (like Dulux Light and Surface) to boost perceived brightness by up to 20%. One innovative paint surface is reported to reflect so much light that it actually cools surfaces down – Scientists Claim This New Paint Is the Whitest White Ever Made—and It Could It Help Combat Global WarmingFull Daytime Sub-ambient Radiative Cooling in Commercial-like Paints with High Figure of Merit. 



A rising tide lifts all boats 

As many as one in five of us are neurodivergent in some way, an umbrella term that refers to natural variations in brain functioning – Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults.

And yet, a survey of over 1,000 neurodivergent employees published by the CIPD in February this year found that over half didn’t feel that their organisation (52%) or team (54%) is open or supportive enough to discuss neurodiversity at all.

This may be one reason why almost one-third of respondents haven’t told their line manager or HR about their neurodivergence, with over a third (37%) saying they’re concerned about people making assumptions based on stereotypes and over one-quarter concerned about the impact on their career – One in five neurodivergent employees have experienced harassment or discrimination at work because of their neurodivergence.

This brilliant paper sets out the context and a clear framework for adaptations from flexible working hours to avoid rush hour travel to enhanced control over the sensory environment including lighting and adjustable workstations, low-glare monitors and low flicker fittings – Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults.

Taking time to support everyone in your team will also reduce the risk of costly legal action, with the number of cases relating to discrimination on the grounds of neurodiversity rising fast – from 70 in 2020 to 102 in 2022 according to the law firm Fox and Partners – Neurodiversity tribunals continue to rise.

Doyle notes that the average cost of those adjustments is just £1,200, a small price to pay for the competitive advantage and unique skill sets that a neurodivergent team can bring – Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage.

There may be unexpected benefits for other team members too as this paper by Deloitte points out, a rising tide will lift all boats – A rising tide lifts all boats.

So I’m delighted to co-curate a debate with Jean Hewitt, lead author of the BSI Design for the Mind standard to celebrate the international day of light on the 16th of May.  Tim Oldman, Founder and CEO of Leesman will review current findings from their new Inclusivity module, Florence Lam of Arup will describe how staff engagement was key to their successful office move, Tricia Smikle will review the recent refurbishment of the RNIB HQ, Philippa Graham will explain how the Harwell Science Park is making sure that their labs are set up for neurodiverse teams and James Thompson of AHMM Architects will explain why he decided to ‘come out’ as neurodiverse and the unexpected challenges and benefits he’s discovered. 

Please use this link to express your interest in being part of our small invited audience at the Business Design Centre – DESIGN FOR NEURODIVERSITY.



Daylight without the distraction video 

I’m always banging on about being close to the window.

A view outside can boost your mood, improve your sleep, and even help you to move around physically during the day.

But for those of us who struggle with attention and focus, the distraction of stuff going on outside and the bright light can sometimes get in the way  of getting the job done.

One obvious solution is to drop the blinds if you have them.

But then you’re stuck in the dark and you waste electricity  using lights during the day

As you can see, we’re down to just 31 lux at my desk with a pretty poor spectral curve.

So I found a simple solution.

It doesn’t need any nails, it’s cheap and you can take it away when you’re done!

It’s a simple expanding pole with a net curtain.

I still have the dynamic qualities of daylight, the light levels are much the same.

And I can finally avoid those distractions and get down to work!


Kicking off mental health week with the gift of colour 

People feeling gloomy literally see the world as a darker, foggier place than those who find themselves on an even keel – Seeing Gray When Feeling Blue? Depression Can Be Measured in the Eye of the Diseased.

New research has spotted neurotransmitters linked to major depressive disorders in the retina,. They’ve also tracked delayed signalling patterns in the colour vision part of the eye (the fovea) and and hyperactivity in peripheral vision, where we only see shades of grey – Complete evaluation of retinal function in Major Depressive Disorder: From central slowdown to hyperactive periphery.

Scientists can even harness these patterns of electrical activity coming from your eyes to diagnose mental health conditions and track response to treatment too – Retinal electroretinogram features can detect depression state and treatment response in adults: A machine learning approach.

At the other end of the scale, those experiencing bipolar disorder tend to display heightened colour sensitivity, for some leading to colour confusion and even hallucination – Colour discrimination thresholds in type 1 Bipolar Disorder: a pilot study.

 Your choice of what colour you wear can affect your mood in powerful ways as this paper explains –  Wearing black when feeling blue An exploration of the relationship between clothing and mood.

Changing the colours of the lights may also shift your state of mind – Effects of colored lights on an individual’s affective impressions in the observation process.

But you don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy a brighter and more balanced outlook this week.  Treat someone you love – to a simple flower today  – A neural link between generosity and happinessand treat yourself to one too!

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