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Making Shared Workspace More Accessible for Employees with Disabilities

Accommodation Ideas

From the desk of Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Director of Services and Publications

With telework on the rise, some employers are downsizing their workspace and moving to shared workspaces without assigned workstations. Before taking this step, employers should consider the needs of employees who require workstation accommodations such as ergonomic design, alternative lighting, minimal distractions, fragrance-free environments, etc. Employers should approach accommodations on a case-by-case basis, but when considering shared workspace, it may be possible to build in flexibility to make shared workspace more accessible for employees with disabilities and ease the implementation of accommodations when necessary. Here are some things to consider when setting up or renting shared workstations:

Furniture and Equipment



Temperature and Ventilation

  • Personal air conditioners and heaters
  • Redirection of ventilation
  • Strategically placed air purifiers

Body Odor


Food, Fragrances, and Other Triggers

Problems Coping with Change

  • Open communication related to what part of the workplace employees can make choices about and how problems, changes, and other requests will be handled
  • Conduct rules related to personal habits that can be controlled

Effective Communication

  • Multiple methods of communication, including email, one on one discussion, meetings, telephone, and instant messaging
  • Point person for problems associated with move to shared workstations


office work area