A woman sitting inside on a couch, wistfully looking out glass doors to her outdoor balcony, which is filled with potted plants

Normalize Working from Home

Before COVID-19, I was allowed to work from home maybe one day a week. Despite being more productive at home than at work, my boss always made me feel like an inconvenience whenever I worked from home. I would’ve loved to stay at home, in my most comfortable (not office-appropriate) clothes whenever I had an endometriosis flare-up, but my boss didn’t think that was possible. I’d miss out on team meetings, he’d say. Or I wouldn’t be able to collaborate with others as effectively.

Disabled people denied to right to work from home

People with disabilities have been told this over and over again when asking for accommodations to enable them to perform their job. The technology to work from home has been available for years and, although there are jobs for which it isn’t possible to do so, even the jobs where all you need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a phone have been inaccessible to disabled people.

Coronavirus changed everything

And then the coronavirus hit and suddenly, it was possible for everyone to work from home. Companies purchase computer monitors for employees to use in their home offices, everyone got on board with Zoom or other video conferencing software and life carried on as usual. Employers found that employees didn’t just slack off at home and productivity remained level.

As we’re slowly going to return back to normal over the next months, I propose that we normalize working from home. Disabled employees who’d rather sit in their PJs at their desk in their living room (or with a laptop in bed) aren’t slackers who won’t do the work. More often than not, they work harder than the employees who take endless coffee breaks in the office. Partly out of guilt, but partly because when you can structure your day and not have to commute, the pain can be more manageable and you’ll be more productive.

We should keep working from home

It’s ridiculous to force everyone to come to the office, sit in an uncomfortable chair in uncomfortable clothes to do a job that can just as easily be done at home. Especially since it’s been proven now that people who work at home don’t slack off, but take their job as seriously - or, in some cases, more seriously - as people who commute into the office every day.

Being able to set up a home office can mean the difference between a chronic pain sufferer having a job or not. When you have an endometriosis flare-up, it’s often not possible to commute on the train or to drive to work. But if all you have to do is stay in bed with a hot water bottle and open your laptop, you might not have to call in sick.

There never was a reason to deny disabled people the right to work from home, but now that everyone has done it as part of the lockdowns, it’s going to be very difficult for employers to argue that everyone has to be in the office.

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