Remote Work’s Impact on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Remote Work’s Impact on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Working in the comfort of your home is one of the most sought-after work setups today. And it’s not just about comfortability; it’s also about being inclusive. It’s time employers make this benefit easily accessible, especially to people with disabilities. 

This makes work more accessible to them so that they can perform much better than being in the office, as tools designed for them are within their reach. 

Remote positions can significantly impact your diversity and inclusion; you may want to consider offering another work setup other than requiring everyone to work at the office. 

The Pandemic and Remote Work for Employees With Disabilities 

Having disabilities poses a challenge in finding work. Back in April 2020, when lockdowns were put in place, there were 3.7 million employed individuals with disabilities. A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in October 2022 found that 5.7 million people with disabilities between the ages of 16 to 64 were employed the previous month.  

This proves that remote jobs have brought more people with disabilities into the workforce than ever before by opening more accessible options and allowing them to keep their positions in the company.¹ 

The Obstacles Found in Office-Only Setups 

Both employees with and without disabilities have come to prefer doing their office tasks at home due to how the setup has helped them become more productive.  

This has also allowed them to save more on their salaries and let them have more balance between their work and personal lives just by eliminating their daily commute. Employers have also welcomed this arrangement due to the access it has given them to new pools of talent regardless of location.  

Despite the comfort a remote job has given many, many employers have become firmer about returning to the office. Around 50 percent of business leaders said their companies are already requiring or planning to require people to return to the office, yet only 12 percent of employees would like to go back to an office setup.² 

This is challenging if people are required to be back in the office full-time, especially for remote workers with disabilities. Employers must consider how returning to the office will impact their accessibility.  

Inaccessibility 

They might find it difficult to access certain parts of the office. It could lack ramps for people using wheelchairs, designed with distant bathrooms or break rooms. The are already barriers to working remotely, and working in an office would make it even more difficult.  

Office Design 

Office computers or software programs may not be designed for people with disabilities, such as individuals with impaired vision or who are blind. 

Employees with physical disabilities may find it challenging to use some office equipment like printers and copiers that weren’t designed for their needs. 

Discrimination 

Discrimination and untoward behavior can be more apparent in offices. A person with a disability may not be seen as capable of accomplishing specific tasks by their colleagues. They may also not be given the same opportunities as other people.³ 

6 Ways That Remote Work Increases Productivity in People With Disabilities 

Remote work has dramatically increased the participation of people with disabilities in the workforce. You can maintain this positive impact on diversity, equity, and inclusion by allowing them to continue to work from home. Here are some of the benefits: 

1. Reduces the Need for Public Transportation 

Working from home not only allows people to clock in on time but also lessens the stress and cost of public transportation, which can also be unreliable.  

People with disabilities often can’t drive, so they rely on public transportation. Aside from public transportation’s reliability, they have to get onto buses or trains on time, which may be difficult, especially when there’s a massive crowd to compete with. Commuting is already a stressful experience, and it becomes even more difficult for people with disabilities.  

Working from home allows them access to opportunities they might not get due to transportation difficulties. Work options become more available for persons with disabilities when offices stay remote. They can work with teams outside of their area without having to travel daily.⁴ 

2. Improves Mental Health 

Imagine a person with anxiety who may feel uncomfortable in front of their boss. It’s not because the boss is rude or too strict—it could be that they may just feel overwhelmed in the presence of someone else who isn’t a friend or loved one. 

Working within a person’s comfort zone can lessen any stressors they may encounter in a traditional office. This can improve a person’s well-being and help them focus more on their assigned tasks. 

3. Provides Much Better Accessibility 

Many employees with disabilities may find accessibility a challenge in traditional office spaces because not every company has accessible office spaces or the budget to update them. 

Working from home allows employees to customize their workspaces according to their needs. This may include having the following: 

  • More space for wheelchairs and other equipment they need 
  • Accessible equipment that may be difficult to bring into the office 
  • Adjustable and specific working areas that typical offices may not provide 

4. Reduces the Chance of Discrimination and May Improve Inclusivity 

Working from home can help create a more inclusive environment. People only look at each other through virtual meetings and converse through social applications when needed. This reduces potential bias toward apparent disability, age, or gender, shifting focus to individual contributions, qualifications, and skills rather than their physical appearances.  

Employees with disabilities can be treated equally because they will not be judged based on their conditions rather, they’re evaluated through their output and performance. This means discrimination is less likely to happen, and people can focus more on their work. 

5. Can Increase Productivity and Reduce Distractions 

Working with others in the room can be very distracting and overwhelming for disabled and non-disabled employees. Noise and interruptions may stress them out more because these can shift their focus from the task at hand. 

Working remotely can reduce these causes of sensory overload and help them stay calm and focused because they can work without distractions in their rooms or home office. 

6. Allows for a More Flexible Work Schedule 

Working from home lets employees with disabilities follow a schedule that’s comfortable and convenient for them. They can rest when they feel tired and keep their medical appointments in the middle of the day. 

This arrangement lets them care for themselves better and have more time with their loved ones. They can even pursue the passions they’ve been meaning to make time for, which can help boost their creativity and happiness. 

Make Work More Accessible for Everyone 

Working remotely may be the answer to your productivity concerns. Almost every employee already prefers working in the comfort of their homes. Plus, it helps employees with disabilities perform their jobs better, nurturing a more inclusive workplace. 

GALT FOUNDATION CAN HELP YOU FIND THE BEST REMOTE TEAM FOR YOUR COMPANY 

Are you looking for a team of remote workers? We got your back.  

Galt Foundation has been in the industry for over 20 years and is one of the world’s largest temporary staffing organizations for individuals with disabilities. We’ll support you through screening processes to match you with the right people to employ. 

Feel free to get in touch with us. Call us at 1-877-361-1277 or fill out our contact form here

References 

1. Gonzales, Matt. “Remote Work Helps People with Disabilities Land Jobs.” SHRM, 21 Oct. 2022, www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/remote-work-helps-people-with-disabilities-land-jobs.aspx

2. Robinson, Bryan. “‘The Great Mismatch’: Employers Firmer on Return-to Office Policies in 2023.” Forbes, 1 Jan. 2023, www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2023/01/01/the-great-mismatch-employers-firmer-on-return-to-office-policies-in-2023/?sh=488dc017be1f

3. “Disability at Work: Cope with Challenges and Thrive.” HelpGuide, www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/disability-at-work.htm. Accessed 19 Apr. 2023. 

4. Alexiou, Gus. “Remote Work Boosts Employees With Disabilities, Research Shows.” Forbes, 27 Oct. 2022, www.forbes.com/sites/gusalexiou/2022/10/27/new-research-confirms-boon-of-remote-working-for-disabled-employees-in-the-us/?sh=5a339c955aa4

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Let’s start a conversation! Are you a person with disabilities searching for a job or an organization with temporary or long-term employment needs? We look forward to helping you realize your potential.

Contact Us

Let’s start a conversation! Are you a person with disabilities searching for a job or an organization with temporary or long-term employment needs? We look forward to helping you realize your potential.