Britvic: A Working Well blog post from Wendy Staples in this week of celebrating neurodiversity

Bubble.

“To form bubbles (like boiling water, stream of water, etc.); to bubble up (like gas through a liquid, water from a spring, etc.; often without or to the top); emit the sounds due to the formation and bursting of bubbles.” OED. 2n/a1989 edition

At Britvic, the word bubble immediately makes us think of our fantastic carbonated soft drinks. Over the past two years, the word has taken on a different meaning for all of us. For our family, however, “the ‘bubble’ has always meant protection from the world outside our home. As far back as I can remember, every day we’ve been out of our house: to school, to work, to visiting family or just popping into the corner store, we imagined entering a bubble that surrounds us and protects us from the outside world.

Why? What makes us different?

All four of us are neurodivergent (autistic and/or ADHD). Being neurodivergent brings incredible strengths in our attention to detail, the ability to focus on one task for a long time, our loyalty, and our sense of justice. It also brings significant challenges at work, school, and even anywhere outside of our homes. Challenges so hidden you’d never know they were there.

Offices are busy environments, and the buzz that many of you missed during lockdown can be so uncomfortable for someone with sensory sensitivities like me that it can becomes physically painful. It’s also extremely entertaining. While you can concentrate on a conversation without even thinking about it, I can find it almost impossible to hear what’s being said because of the everyday sounds that are in the background: the faint sound of air conditioning or the tapping of a keyboard sounds as loud as your voice to me. This vibrant and lively presentation you’ve worked so hard on is almost impossible to read as my eyes are blinded by the hustle and bustle of images, colors, movement and text.

Add to that the everyday social expectations of maintaining eye contact, smiling and nodding appropriately, trying to figure out when it’s your turn to speak (it’s a mystery to me how people manage this) and the effort of simply existing in the workplace can be overwhelming at the time.

It’s exhausting.

So what?

Working Well has changed that for me and my whole family.

I’m new to Britvic, and Working Well – Britvic’s approach to flexible working – was a huge factor in my choosing to join Britvic over anyone else. Why? It all boils down to one word. Difference.

I did my research. I read about all the B-Yourself initiatives. As an ally of the LGBTQA+ family, my heart sank when I saw the B-Proud group, but it was reading about the B-Seen Network for Disability and Diverse Ability that I really felt that I had found a company that would not only embrace my difference but would have the tools available and most importantly, the drive and culture that would allow me to reach my full potential. The flexibility of working from home and on site not only meant that I could work in an environment that met my needs, but more importantly for us, my husband and I could continue to care for our disabled teenager who has really complex needs. It would also mean that I could work full time for the first time in 25 years.

The only thing I had to do was get the job!

So here I am, just over eight months into the job and I can honestly say I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it so far. The flexibility and understanding shown by Katy, my line manager, is truly transformative. I’m thriving. My friends and family told me how much happier I seemed: they’re right. I am.

The bubble has finally burst. But to me, it’s a really wonderful thing.

Wendy Staples | Capabilities Coordinator, Learning

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