Navigating Remote Work Opportunities for People with Disabilities
During the pandemic, remote work in the US surged. It rose from around 6% of all workdays to over 50% in spring 2020. However, since that peak, it's stabilizing at about 28% in 2023.
Many employers offer these opportunities to eliminate workplace commutes and help foster a sustainable work-life balance for their employees. People living with disabilities can take advantage of remote work opportunities, especially if they feel more comfortable at home.
If you're one of these people, this guide will explain ways you can secure a remote job and thrive from the comfort of your home.
Prioritize Time Management Skills
Without direct supervision or coworkers close by, you'll need to take on more personal responsibility for managing your day.
That's where developing self-discipline and discovering ways to stay productive and meet deadlines becomes paramount. Further, people with disabilities should develop specific time management techniques that adapt to their needs.
For example, remote workers with ADHD need to develop focus methods to allow them to function in the neurotypical world.
Connecteam, an online time clock platform, is an easy-to-use app with an intuitive user interface that allows workers to clock into work from anywhere.
Connecteam is the perfect platform for remote workers with disabilities to clock in and clock out through one simple tap from the app. Remote workers with ADHD can create their own schedules to ensure they're truly focused and completing their job accordingly.
They can also complete their workday using a Pomodoro app on the side while clocking in and out of Connecteam to accurately track their work hours. This simple application makes it easier for managers since Connecteam automatically organizes tracked time into a digital timesheet.
Create the Perfect Work-from-Home Setup
Finding the best remote work opportunities means nothing if you can't deliver high-quality work. Employers expect remote workers to manage their time well, complete their work efficiently, and become committed members of their organizations.
To achieve these outcomes, you need a work-from-home (WFH) setup conducive to success. When arranging your WFH setup, make sure to keep these tips in mind:
Find a room in your home you enjoy. Whether it's your bedroom or a dedicated office, being productive at work means finding a place where you can do your best work.
Limit all distractions and interruptions. If you have children or pets, consider working when they're less active.
Invest in accessibility technology. If you need any accommodations to do your job, buy them upfront so you can hit the ground running as soon as you sign an offer letter.
Don't underestimate the power of the small details. These things matter and can significantly help relieve the stress of working from home.
Be Transparent with Your Employer
In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was ratified, making it illegal for employers to discriminate against people living with disabilities.
With the law on your side, you should be upfront with a prospective employer about your disability. Doing so allows your employer to accommodate you to the best of their ability.
In fact, many employers will ask if you need reasonable work accommodations on remote job listings. For example, informing your employer that you have low vision may encourage them to pay for your computer equipment or screen readers.
After all, you'll never know if you don't ask.
Know Your Employer's Remote Work Policy
Some employers are laid back, allowing their employees to work whenever they want as long as they finish their work. Others require regular meetings and check-ins, needing their employees to be attentive throughout the day.
Knowing your employer's remote work policy will save you the trouble of a rude awakening later if it doesn't meet your expectations. You can also review this policy to prepare yourself and the WFH setup properly.
During a job interview, ask questions about the company's remote work policy to make sure you're entering into your ideal situation.
Ask About Mental Health Awareness
When we think of disabilities, blindness and paraplegia are visible disabilities that often come to mind. However, there's a wide range of invisible disabilities, including those that fall under the spectrum of a mental health disability.
Remote work can sometimes feel isolating, which might exacerbate mental health challenges. Before diving into any remote work opportunity, it's wise to inquire about the company's stance on mental health awareness.
Does the company have a supportive infrastructure in place?
Are there regular check-ins, resources, or counseling services available for employees?
Such programs can make a massive difference in ensuring remote workers, particularly those with disabilities, feel understood, supported, and valued.
Remember, a company culture that prioritizes the mental well-being of its staff demonstrates a commitment to its employees' overall health and success. And that's an organization worth joining.
Don't Forget About Accessibility
Just as physical workplaces make accommodations for people with disabilities, virtual environments should be no different.
Since the 90s, the US government has encouraged businesses to embrace web accessibility. Accessibility is when a website, online education resource, public area, or anything else becomes useful for someone with a disability.
Ask potential employers about the tools and platforms they use. Are they compatible with screen readers, speech recognition software, or other assistive technologies?
If meetings are a regular occurrence, does the company use platforms that support real-time captioning?
Also, consider the company's willingness to invest in additional tools or modifications to ensure you can work comfortably and efficiently from home.
For example, let's say that most of your job involves working with tech companies and websites to perform search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing duties. If the website has dark colors and small text, it'll be difficult to navigate the site if you have low vision.
Before agreeing to any job offer (for a sales representative or virtual assistant), make sure your employer practices up-to-date web accessibility standards and can provide accommodation for your position.
Navigating remote work opportunities with a disability doesn't have to be a massive challenge. Remote work and freelance opportunities already give employees the flexibility to do their jobs at home, usually whenever they're most comfortable.
On top of that, more and more employers are offering accommodations for employees with disabilities. Following the tips in this guide will help you secure the job of your dreams on your terms.
Best of luck with your remote job search!
About the author:
Bio: Kelly Moser is the co-founder and editor at Home & Jet, a digital magazine for the modern era. She's also the content manager at Login Lockdown, covering the latest trends in tech, business and security. Kelly is an expert in freelance writing and content marketing for SaaS, Fintech, and ecommerce startups.