Most of us want to do a good job when we go to work. For 36-year-old IT developer Felix Kim Nielsen and his six new colleagues with autism it is absolutely crucial to know that they deliver results every day.
One of the new colleagues in Automation said one day to his manager: “I want to quit”. It turned out that he had no specific assignment at that particular moment and without work he was not earning his salary – and the logical thing to do was to resign.
Taking things literally is something that the seven newcomers in Automation have brought to the team. Along with a particular brand of determination and a need to feel useful:
- If there is ONE thing that is important to me it’s being good at my work. I want to feel that I deserve my salary, says Felix firmly and continues:
- It’s also my biggest Achilles heel, because it stresses me out if an assignment is not clearly described, for example, and I don’t know exactly what to do. And, of course, I prefer to handle things without needing help.
New wardrobe after ten years
In Automation Felix and his some 25 colleagues “take the robot out of the person”, as their manager Arwit Pan-Ararm puts it. They work on automating a number of routine processes such as ordering software. The seven colleagues with varying degrees of autism joined the team in early January after an extensive introductory period.
For Felix the job has literally changed his life:
- It’s been incredibly important for me to get out and do something. When you as I haven’t done anything for ten years, it affects your psyche. I called myself chronically apathetic as I led a very simple and primitive life and there are still a great many things that I would like to change, explains Felix, who feels that a good, steady income gives him a strong sense of freedom. His first splurge was on a new wardrobe. A new computer and owning his own flat are also high on his wish list.
Shouldn’t you employ some at Nordea?
It all started when specialist Majbritt Gyldengren watched a television programme about the company Specialisterne, which works to enable jobs for people with autism and similar challenges. Majbritt knows the founder of Specialisterne, and wrote to him full of praise.
- When he replied “what about you at Nordea, why don’t you hire some?”, I reached out to several people, says Majbritt.
It was soon decided that there was room for five full-time positions. They turned into seven part-time positions, and Arwit Pan-Ararm was quick to announce that he wanted to onboard these in his new team.
- I didn’t know anything about autism, so I first watched the TV programme online and became very enthusiastic. I really like working with people and it also dawned on me that I probably know many people with autism without knowing that they have this diagnosis, says Arwit, who is particularly impressed by the new colleagues’ ability to focus, their perseverance and sharp IT skills.
- However, the human aspect was the decisive factor for me, although it was a win-win situation.
Both easy and demanding
Working with people with autism makes new demands on Arwit and Majbritt, who run the project in the unit. In some ways the new colleagues are easier to work with than the other colleagues:
- Although our new colleagues are very different, they do have some common characteristics. They’re all super honest, spontaneous and uncomplicated to get along with, says Majbritt.
- We need to communicate a lot more, for although there are common traits of autism there are also many individual features. The biggest challenge is probably that we need to be incredibly specific when we give instructions to our new colleagues. And sometimes we need to explain things more than once. But their wish to perform clearly offsets the disadvantages, says Arwit.
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