Remote Work and Individual Differences - The Freedom to Work Well
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In a remote environment, all individuals, including those with disabilities, have the opportunity to optimise their remote work environment for productivity and comfort. This might take the form of certain office equipment or types of seating, wrist rests etc. It could also be the freedom to manage various sensory elements such as noise levels, temperature or brightness in your workspace. It also means that the work dress code can be more flexible, allowing employees to dress in casual, comfortable clothing and wear more traditional work clothes for meetings where they will be visible on camera or to in-person interactions.
Remote working also respects an individual’s right not to disclose any health conditions if they do not need to or want to. A flexible schedule also makes it easier to attend medical appointments as you do not need to look for time off in the middle of the day or use up annual leave. Instead, you can work your job around your life. For a lot of individuals, it can also be easier to take medication or use treatments at home where you can do so at the time you need and in a way that is comfortable. It also limits the possibility of forgetting to bring medications with you to work and having to choose to go without or to return home to get them. Additionally, you can arrange your working hours around any temporary flare ups in health conditions without having to miss working hours, or with minimal disruption to work hours.
Remote work provides a controlled and familiar environment, reducing commute-related stressors, fatigue and other triggers for those with sensory sensitivities. Individuals with social anxiety or disabilities such as autism may find traditional office environments overwhelming and may benefit from the ability to manage their environment.
There may also be more tools available to us at home to reduce and manage stress in our home environment. This could be as simple as calming ourselves by taking a break and sitting with our pets. It is also easier to take a break without worrying about others’ perceptions of you, as well as being easier to take a break in a private space.
Remote work is not just a change in the location of work; it's a cultural shift that acknowledges and embraces individual differences and the need for choice in working environments. As noted in a report from Employers for Change and The Open Doors Initiative (Nov 2021), this benefits both people with disabilities as it provides greater working options that allow for individual management of disabling conditions around work commitments, and employers, who can avail of a greater, more diverse talent pool. In a world where diversity and inclusion is celebrated, remote work stands as a beacon of opportunity for individuals to thrive both personally and professionally, unlocking the potential for a more inclusive and fulfilling work experience.
For more details and resources in relation to remote working, including remote job boards and remote employer lists, please see the link for the wonderful resource library developed by the team at Grow Remote.
Grow Remote also provides fully-funded remote skills training for people who have never worked remotely before (Remote Work Ready) and for people who have some remote or hybrid work experience but would like to enhance their skills (Thriving Remotely). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
First published January 2024
Guest Blog Author: Laura Tighe
As part of the Grow Remote team, Laura creates a great learner experience and successful outcomes for people looking to break into and thrive in a remote working environment through their training programmes. She is experienced in creating impactful, skills-oriented learning across a range of industries and has 10 years’ experience working in various education settings with both face to face and online learning. She is a big believer in lifelong learning and that it is never too late to develop new skills.