Disability And The Meaning Of Flexible Working

disability, diversity, inclusion...

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Flexible Working is Vital to Those Living with Disabilities

One group of people who been crying out for flexible working for years are people living with a disability or those who are chronically ill. This group has often been pushed out of traditional work due to their needs and so they will be hoping more than most, that the patterns we’ve been getting used to in 2020 don’t change. It’s important for recruiters to take note of these employees when deciding on future flexible working policies.

This year has been incredibly important for flexible working. More than ever, people have been required to work from home. National lockdowns affecting childcare and other personal commitments have also forced recruiters to allow staff to work to their own schedule. Whilst this has been a welcome change, there is always the fear that companies will revert to the rigidity of office life once COVID-19 ceases to be a threat.

 

Employees Should Set Their Own Schedule

One of the main obstacles for people living with disabilities trying to find employment is lack of flexibility. With things like regular doctors’ appointments, intensive treatments or other demands of their life, very few have been offered the flexibility needed in the past.

A huge benefit of flexible working for people living with disabilities is being able to set their own schedule. Employers have, for far too long, been rigid with business hours and this mindset has pushed people out of work completely. But, working earlier or later than the typical 9 – 5, make no difference to productivity. As long as the work is being done, it shouldn’t matter how an employee sets their work schedule.

 

Home Working Works

Flexible working can also mean home working which can be vital to people with disabilities or for those with a chronic illness. Commuting to an office every day can be exhausting for everyone, but for those with a disability or illness, it can sometimes be impossible. The journey to an office may exacerbate their condition and so removing that stress is a great step to keeping people with disabilities in employment.

Home working also allows the employee to live where they need to. Living with a disability or chronic illness may mean that they need to live near family for support or in a certain area to be close to their hospital where they go for regular treatment. By offering flexible employment, the employee can live where they need to be rather than being required to move closer to the workplace.

 

Long Live the Work Practices of 2020

Many people will disabilities have had to give up on their career as it’s not been possible to care for themselves while keeping a job. Small changes in working practices can make a huge difference to many lives. The situation in 2020 has proved that it can be done.

Employees can work to their own schedule and from their own homes. They can be just as productive as those who travel to the office every day and stick to the 9 – 5 schedules. If employers keep up the practices that have been adopted in 2020, they will have a much happier, inclusive and diverse workforce. Those living with disabilities will have more opportunities for employment.

For any company who already reap the benefits of a diverse workforce and promote an inclusive culture - state this on your job descriptions. Let communities of flexible working job seekers know that this is how you operate. Invite them in, promotong all the good that you do. If you are a company still struggling with managing a flexible workforce then why not bring in some help. There are many companies out there offering consultancy on such matters. For example The Find Your Flex Group run power hours for human resources professionals.

 

It’s About the People

Recruiters need to think of better ways to provide access and equal opportunities to all employees. According to Robert Livingston (October 2020 Harvard Business Review), "Managers should abandon the notion that a 'best candidate' must be found. Instead, they should focus on hiring well-qualified people who show exemplary promise and then should invest time, effort, and resources into helping them reach their potential."