From Nyaka Mwanza

Unemployment and underemployment have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities and chronic diseases: only 40 percent of adults with disabilities between the ages of 25 and 54 – the main period of employment – have a job. This rate is about half as high as for people without disabilities who are employed (79 percent).

When looking for and maintaining a job, people with physical and mental disabilities can encounter innumerable hurdles. However, teleworking offers more opportunities and more equal opportunities in the workplace for people with disabilities. Fortunately for many, COVID has shaken the facade that working remotely has been detrimental to results, and now remote working is more doable than ever.

Accessibility and flexibility

Working remotely can remove the barriers some people with disabilities face in accessing traditional labor. Having a work environment that accommodates a person’s disability can be a turning point, and a home facility can potentially serve their needs better than an office. In a GitLab report, 14% of respondents said they had a disability, and 83% of those people said the ability to work from home kept them in the workplace.

The symptoms and complications of some chronic conditions can range from embarrassing to painful, such as frequent toilet trips due to irritable bowel syndrome or numbness and tingling sensation in rheumatoid arthritis. Working from home allows people to work in a safer and healthier environment that suits their specific needs.

Remote working also gives people the flexibility to work when their symptoms are more manageable and take breaks when they are more severe. Similarly, working remotely gives people with chronic health problems the flexibility to schedule visits to health care providers that may be required frequently.

Productivity and time

Getting dressed and preparing for work can be more difficult and time consuming when living with a disability. Commuting can also be a complicated and even dangerous proposition. Everyday tasks with a disability can add hours and unnecessary stress to a person’s day. Remote work reduces the time, stress and energy consumption that can add up.

Additionally, a Stanford University study showed that employees who worked from home were more productive than those who worked from their company’s offices. When a company’s employees work remotely (partially or fully), it creates an equal opportunity for everyone to get involved in the workplace. Working from home also promotes a better sense of work-life balance and job satisfaction – and happy employees are more productive.

Redefine disability in the workplace

Working from Home from COVID has shown the world what people with disabilities have always known: Working from home is not only practical, but also beneficial. Organizations have the opportunity to create a productive, diverse and inclusive workplace that encompasses all groups, including people with disabilities. Hiring people with disabilities and normalizing the flexible home working culture not only makes sense, it also makes money. If just 1 percent more people with disabilities joined the US workforce, GDP could grow by as much as $ 25 billion.

There is ample evidence of the benefits of workplace diversity on a company’s bottom line and results. But not only employers benefit from it. Working from home enables people with disabilities to participate in economic life in ways that are less likely to make their health worse.

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