Working from Home: Creating More Equitable Workplaces
Posted on 04/25/22 by Joseph in Advocacy
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the number of people working at home. According to Pew Research, 59% of people able to work from home, are working from home most of the time. This is down from a high point in 2020 of 71%, but still remarkably high. Now, in 2022, many people working from home are doing so due to preference rather than concern around the coronavirus. This has serious implications for accommodations given to workers.
While the pandemic has increased the opportunity for everyone to work at home, people with disabilities benefit from this change.
This choice of working from home, also known as telework, has long been an alternative work arrangement that has benefited many workers with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long laid out telework as a reasonable accommodation employees can seek under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The recent increase in work from home means that more jobs are accessible or able to be done remotely more easily. People will no longer have to face as many barriers in the workplace such as difficulty commuting, inaccessible workspaces, and rigid work schedules. The growth of work at home also shows that increased flexibility in how and where people work is possible, and does not necessarily impact productivity. It is this flexibility that truly benefits everyone. Workplaces have seen how giving flexibility to workers can function well and, in some cases, benefit businesses.
Working from home does not replace the need for offices and workplaces to be accessible.
Less than half of workers, 40%, can work from home. Many workers still need to go to a physical workplace to do their job. Even for persons with disability that have the option to work from home, working from an office or physical location may be preferred.
What the pandemic shows us about telework, is that making certain accommodations widely available is possible and even benefits people who don’t currently have a disability. Even after the pandemic is over, 60% of workers who can work from home say that they would like to continue to work from home all/most of the time.
Employers freely allowing for accommodations and workers confident in advocating for the accommodations they need, should be a major lesson we take away from the past two years.