As the pandemic began to unfold in March 2020, workplaces across the globe adjusted their employee expectations and safety measures overnight. As a health protective measure most professional fields moved online, allowing employees to complete work responsibilities from home. This forced employers to reconsider what payable work looks like, rapidly shifting processes and expectations.
When the majority of the professional able-bodied population suddenly required accessibility measures to protect their health and safety, enormous shifts were made to accommodate them. People with disabilities who have been making similar requests for decades have not received an equitable level of support and understanding.
This has resulted in frustratingly low levels of employment for people with disabilities due to barriers that can be avoided or reduced by offering work from home options. For example, activities necessary to get to work like getting dressed and accessing transportation may be extremely time consuming, difficult, or impossible for people with disabilities. Spending many hours in an office environment may also not be possible due to anxiety and physical discomfort.
By allowing employees to work flexibly from home, workers can adjust their schedules to meet a variety of needs. Parents or others with caregiving responsibilities can more easily manage their personal and professional responsibilities, work environments and clothing can be adjusted to suit individual preferences without fear of judgement, and work can be delayed during instances of pain or sensory overload.
During the pandemic months, employers and employees have had the opportunity to reimagine and redesign what paid work can look like. Moving forward, we as a collective society have the opportunity to create a world that is more inclusive and accessible. And, it is more than simply the right thing to do. When companies embrace diversity, improvements in financial performance, creative problem-solving, innovation, and employee retention are often seen.
Inclusion and accessibility really do benefit everyone!
A young woman works flexibly from home, accessing her laptop from the comfort of her bed and accompanied by her small dog.