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Remote Work to Accommodate Workers with a Disability

As an employer, you may receive an accommodation request that seeks approval for remote work. Indeed. remote work can be beneficial to both employers and workers. Below, we describe when remote work might be a good idea, such as when:

  • Workers with physical disabilities need equipment
  • A worker’s home provides more comfort
  • Workers need a distraction-free, quiet workspace
  • A worker with an invisible disability may feel less anxiety at home

Remote Work to Accommodate Workers with a Disability

If Worker’s Have Specialized Equipment

Some workers may use specialized equipment, such as:

  • Electronic lifts
  • Slings
  • Stairlifts

Workers who use this type of equipment may already have it installed in their homes. Also, they may feel more comfortable using it there. As well, some equipment, such as lifts and slings, can be very costly for businesses. Therefore, if both the worker and employer agree, it may be helpful for the company to use remote work as an accommodation.

If Workers Feel More Comfortable at Home Than the Workplace

Workers may feel more comfortable looking after their needs at home if they:

  • Rely on special medical equipment
  • Need specialized items on hand to take medicine
  • Have medical diets they need to follow (for example, pureeing food or using a feeding tube)
  • Have private medical concerns needing attention throughout the day

If Workers Need More Control Over their Workspace

Open-concept offices or working in teams may be hard to do for some workers. In these situations, a remote work setup may be better because workers have control over their own workspace at home.

Workers can control many things at home, such as:

  • How much or how little noise, music, or distraction they allow
  • The temperature
  • Lighting
  • How often they take breaks

If Workers Will Have Less Anxiety at Home

Accommodating disabilities includes mental illnesses as well. For some workers, the workplace can induce anxiety. Many things may induce anxiety at work, such as:

  • Loud noises
  • Noises from many sources
  • Large numbers of people
  • Face-to-face interactions
  • Using common areas

For anxiety related to germs, public washrooms and kitchens can also induce anxiety.

Remote Work is about Accessibility, Not Exclusion

Remote work may be seen as exclusion. However, it is really meant to do the opposite. Remote work allows businesses to take advantage of a larger talent pool. Also, it allows more people with disabilities to enter the workforce. Hiring workers with disabilities ensures that your business gets the benefits, such as:

  • Varied outlooks
  • New and different ideas
  • A diverse workplace

Employers have many options when it comes to hiring people with disabilities. Working from home is a good option, but it is not the only one. There are many accommodations to consider, such as:

  • Having quiet work areas
  • Scheduling the worker during hours when the workplace is quiet
  • Having a support worker come in at times to help with medical or personal care needs
  • Working from home for part-time
  • Keeping the workplace clutter free
  • Telling workers if there are going to be changes in the work area layout
  • Showing the worker when there are physical changes in the workplace

Employers can use remote work to accommodate workers with disabilities. Before dismissing the idea of remote work, talk to your workers or potential workers to see what they would prefer. Some workers might like being at the workplace, while other workers with the same needs might wish to work from home. Also, be sure to always include all remote workers in company events, such as:

  • Meetings
  • Team building
  • Potlucks
  • Social outings

Remote work is not costly to employers. Also, sometimes it is best for workers with a disability to work from home. Keep an open mind when receiving the request. The worker will tell you what they need in order to be the most comfortable and increase productivity.