Working from home has become the new normal in 2021. This has potential to provide numerous exceptional benefits for the disabled community who have traditionally faced physical barriers to entering the employment market. Working from home offers the unprecedented opportunity to reduce the disability employment gap in a number of industry sectors and offer employers and employees alike to benefit from an enriched labour pool of talent in a number of professions. This new world of home working, video communication and negative impacts of working from home are new areas for many employers. Award-winning Disability Blogger and Freelance Writer, Chloe Tear suggests the ways that businesses can help their employees adjust to new ways of working and capitalize on the opportunities this presents.
The number of employees working from home has risen dramatically over the past year. In many ways, this has made the world of work more accessible for disabled people – but it’s vital that employers are providing the right assistance. Here are five ways employers can support disabled employees working from home:
Organise regular check-ins
When you’re in an office environment alongside co-workers, communicating is a natural part of the working day. However, when an employee is working from home and communication is virtual, it’s important that effort is made to ensure regular lines of communication. A weekly or monthly check-in via video software can be beneficial for both employers and employees.
Ensure employees have the equipment they need
It’s absolutely imperative that disabled people working from home have access to the right equipment – not only equipment that’s necessary for their role, but that which enhances their health and wellbeing during their working hours. This may include ergonomic equipment, specialist seating, room adaptations, and plenty more. Access To Work is one grant scheme which can help employers cover the costs of any necessary workplace adjustments, even for those working from home.
Offer virtual ways of socialising
Although working from home comes with many benefits, especially for disabled people, it can sometimes feel isolating. Considering ways that people working from home can join in with any workplace socialising can have a hugely positive effect on your employees’ morale and teamworking skills. If there’s an event or leisure activity take place, consider how this could be made more inclusive for disabled staff, and how they might be able to join in from home. Examples of this could be posting teabags or snacks so they can join in with a coffee break, or providing a fundraising kit so they can take part in any charity activities. It’s also important to make sure disabled employees working from home know they can approach you with any suggestions of their own for how things could be made more inclusive.
Utilise teamworking software
We live in a time where digital connection and communication has become the norm. Employers may already be familiar with video calling software, but there are many other forms of assistive technology and teamworking software that can take collaborative working to a whole new level. Don’t be afraid to explore what’s out there, and ask disabled employees if there are any resources they’d personally like to try. Universal Design Tech in particular is committed to developing innovative solutions that improve the lives of disabled people.
Ensure career progression is on the cards
Finally, it’s important to remember that disabled people have the same hopes and aspirations as any other employee – whether working in a physical workplace or from home. Regardless of any adjustments, it’s important that disabled employees have regular opportunities to develop new skills, continue their professional development, and move up the career ladder. If you utilise all of the tips in this post, facilitating this process as an employer will come naturally and be a mutually beneficial process.
Chloe Tear is a full-time as a content designer within the charity sector. She writes about her own experiences of Cerebral Palsy, as well as chronic pain and being partially sighted due to visual cortex disorder. She is particularly interested in writing about disability attitudes and the stereotypes I may face on a daily basis.
Her own blog strives to share what it is like to be a disabled young person navigating the world of education, employment and life in general!