The coronavirus pandemic has completely shifted the way we work and live. With countries across the world enforcing periods of lockdown to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, many people face restrictions unlike they’ve ever experienced before. And while this may have proved troublesome for some, this altered way of working and living may have created more opportunities for disabled people – particularly in the workplace. Here, we explore how lockdown may have created increased opportunities for disabled people’s careers.
Working from home
Many companies have switched from office to home working through lockdown, which has meant no more long commutes for people across the country. To those facing daily challenges of accessibility or limited mobility, or those that cannot leave their home due to their condition, the opportunity to work from home has been hugely beneficial. It means that they may now be able to participate in work that would not have been possible beforehand – particularly if it meant having to travel.
Attending meetings virtually
With many people working from home, businesses have adapted the way colleagues, clients and customers communicate with one another. Instead of meeting in the office or travelling across the country to see a client, we are now speaking with others from the comfort of our own home – using online software like Microsoft Teams. These advanced online systems allow us to communicate quickly and easily, whether that’s over instant messaging or via a video call. Again, this offers more opportunities for disabled people in the workplace who may have been unable to participate in meetings at work due to accessibility issues or limited mobility.
More flexible working patterns
Many people have switched up their typical 9-5 working hours for a more flexible pattern during lockdown. With many trying to juggle home schooling their children, working from home and so on through the period, some companies have allowed their staff more flexible work hours to help them manage their commitments – whether that’s starting early and working through the morning, or starting in the afternoon and finishing late. Increased flexibility in the workplace may be hugely beneficial to those who may struggle to cope with fixed working patterns, such as people with chronic fluctuating illnesses like fibromyalgia.
Increased online learning resources
The pandemic has also meant many institutions have switched up the way their learning courses operate. When once a class was taught in a classroom, many can now be accessed in full online. This means that disabled people who were unable to take part in further learning and development courses due to limited mobility or other disabling factors, may now be able to gain qualifications that will help them climb the career ladder.
Further to the increased opportunities around careers, there are also benefits to be had socially and culturally. Allied Mobility, a company that provides fully wheelchair accessible cars and MPVs, have highlighted further opportunities that the adapted way of life through lockdown may bring to those with a disability. Their blog explains how cultural institutes opening their doors digitally has meant people living with a disability can visit from home, and that video-calling apps have allowed people to enjoy more social time with friends and family.