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As many organizations shift to telework and hybrid workplaces, many employees with disabilities find themselves enjoying the perks that working from home offers. However, remote work also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are Galt Foundation's remote work tips for employees with disabilities to help you thrive at teleworking.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the amount of telework and hybrid workplaces in the United States. This shift to remote work has helped eliminate or mitigate certain barriers to employment that people with disabilities may face, like inaccessible workspaces or a difficult commute.
However, remote work comes with its own set of challenges. Galt Foundation offers remote work tips for employees with disabilities to help you thrive at teleworking.
Set Up Your Remote Workspace
Whether you live in a house or a studio apartment, it’s important to set up where you’ll work remotely in order to separate your work and living areas.
If you're comfortable with a more traditional workspace setup, you may want to include a desk with a standing feature and an ergonomic chair. However, there is a wide variety of desk equipment that accommodates specific disabilities. This can include vision tables, kneeling chairs, one hand keyboards, and more.
If your at-home workplace setup does require accommodations, your employer may provide these for you. This can also include technology that may help you better perform your job. For employers, we offer tips in our blog to make the workplace more accessible for remote workers.
Ensure Communication Lines are Open
The general style of communication for remote work is different. There's no popping by in person to ask a question or check in. Most organizations have quickly adapted to telework-friendly communication by implementing video meetings and hang-outs, instant messaging (i.e. on Slack or Discord), and sending more frequent emails.
In order to keep up with what your employer and colleagues may be saying about key projects, it’s important to ensure your communication lines are open. If your organization uses an instant messaging platform, keep it open and change your status or message if you’re away from your desk for a break or appointment. Plus, it's a good idea to ensure you and your equipment are ready for video calls.
If your disability affects your ability to actively participate on virtual communication channels, ensure you communicate this to your employer and seek accommodations if necessary. This may be especially important for employees with office admin jobs, such as data entry clerks, administrative technicians, or office specialists, who need to communicate with employees of other departments.
Those with social anxiety or autism may find being on camera to be overwhelming and difficult, so ask your employer if you can join with your video off. For accessible video conferencing platforms, check out our blog.
Stick to a Remote Work Routine
Working from home often offers greater flexibility, which is especially useful if you require frequent medical appointments or breaks from tasks. However, to ensure a good balance between work and personal priorities, it's a good idea to set, and stick to, a routine.
If your remote job has a flexible start time, try to log in at the same time each day. To minimize work disruptions, you can also factor your mental health breaks and appointments into your routine.
Finally, be clear in communicating your work routine with your team, so they know when you're available, and when to expect you'll be away from your workspace.
Limit Distractions in Your Day
Some distraction in the workplace is inevitable. However, working from home can amplify distractions since you’re in your own space with people and things that are familiar. This is another reason it's important to try and separate your workspace from the rest of your living area.
If you are using your personal computer, create a separate account for your job. If your employer provides you with a computer, avoid using it for personal use (i.e. web browsing, watching videos, online shopping, etc.). If the environment you’re working in is noisy, you may want to consider investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
You can also set boundaries with those you come into your workspace, such as parents, siblings, partners, or care aides. Let them know when you’re working and need quiet time or when you're in a meeting. This is especially important if your workspace isn’t in a separate, dedicated room.
Schedule Calls With Team Members
Working from home can feel isolating to some individuals. However, there are ways to maintain the morale and camaraderie of an office environment in a telework situation.
If you’re finding it difficult to work in isolation, ask your manager for regular calls or check-ins. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions and make sure you’re on the right track.
As well, you can suggest platforms to mimic the “water cooler chat” with team members, such as specific non-work-related channels on instant messaging platforms, gaming breaks, and virtual hang-outs after work or during your lunch break.
Let Galt Foundation Help
Looking for remote work? We’re here to help. Galt Foundation is one of the world’s largest temporary staffing organizations for individuals with disabilities. With over 20 years of experience, we’ll support you through the employment process and match you with the right job opportunity.
If you haven’t yet secured an interview, check out our latest job opportunities here.
Feel free to get in touch with our expert team. You can reach us here or call us at 1-877-361-1277 – we’re always happy to help!