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Neurodivergence, my Job, and Me - Embracing Autism in the Workplace

Welcome to the Life at Peloton Guest Writer Series, where team members from diverse backgrounds and experiences share their unique perspectives on working at Peloton. Our guest contributors include Peloton team members from across the globe. This series aims to amplify voices, create connections, and celebrate people's incredible journeys at Peloton every day.

The word neurodivergence suggests a difference from the neurological norm, but I can’t speak for anyone who adheres to said norm - as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve been autistic, and it’s all I know. When I was diagnosed with autism, my parents probably cared a lot more than I did; I was too busy trying to memorize as many facts as I physically could about the heyday of nu-metal. As cliche as this line sounds, for as long as I can remember, I have been different from others. It took me years of therapy to be able to look people in the eye, and in intensely emotional situations, the only really reassuring thing I could do was tap my feet and flap my hands - to this very day, I struggle with social overstimulation.

One thing I can speak to is how my perspective differs from that of my coworkers, a difference that one might assume would have alienated me from my peers, but at Peloton, it has been embraced. Gone are the days of feeling burdensome in the workplace; at Peloton, my assets are just that - assets, not cumbersome traits to be flattened out in favor of a more uniformly minded workforce, and I’m thriving.

Since joining the company, my unique outlook on the challenges of my job has been welcomed, and I’ve been given so many opportunities to get creative with my particular interests and hyper-fixations. My original role at Peloton was on the retail team at Peloton Studios London, a role I was attracted to because of my own addiction to cycling and a desire to get other people moving the same way I do - I’ve since moved up to the hardware team, a move driven more by the liking I’ve taken to the exciting atmosphere of the studios (and especially the Member classes.) Languages have always been my driving passion, and during my time at Peloton, I’ve been fortunate to work in a bilingual environment, performing duties in both German and English. Social events are a much-beloved part of Peloton's culture, and through workplace and out-of-hours interaction, my managers have taken the time to learn about my interests and share opportunities for me to delve right into. 

Apart from my own welcoming experience, Peloton’s commitment to its team members and members can be seen throughout the workplace and across our connected fitness platforms and App. The ingenuity of the teams across the company is showcased by our accessible content, working platforms, and spaces for both Members and team members with disabilities. If you’re a Peloton Member, you may be familiar with the subtitles on our programming or adaptive fitness classes. At the office, our workplace communications take place on a platform with a dark mode to accommodate those who suffer from light sensitivity or overstimulation. Whether you’re dealing with interpersonal stresses or an imminent meltdown, you’ll always be able to find a mindfulness room in one of our offices. We even have a quarterly wellness allowance on top of our health insurance - this little extra pocket money can be used to cover a number of wellbeing-related costs, including sleep tracker subscriptions, meal preparation delivery, home gym equipment, or essentially, anything that you’d use to keep yourself at your very best, physically and emotionally.

Peloton has my back, and just like they have my back, they’ve also got the backs of the thousands of other team members with needs just as complex and specific as my own. It’s not just team members with disabilities who have such needs - every member of staff has their own complexities, and Peloton gives us a space to approach work on our own terms, looking in the same direction but getting there by our own means. Every accessibility feature I’ve described was crafted by teams with the utmost dedication to ensuring that everybody can make it with Peloton, both as employees and members, and I can’t help but feel looked after, knowing that my employer takes the complexities of all of the community into consideration. Next time I write for this blog, maybe my interests will have changed, and my focus at work will have shifted with them. If they have, it’s not a problem - having the support I have at Peloton allows me to grab onto the handles and enjoy the ride.

Vernon Written by Vernon Sutherland

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