“There is no disability. There is only a perspective of a world which is built to be not wholly accessible to everyone.” Remote work powered by technology is changing that very world by opening a wealth of sustainable employment for PWDs. As remote work becomes the new normal, technology is fast tearing down barriers and filling in the gaps, making sustainable employment more accessible to PWDs, even to the severely disabled. In the past, PWDs have been bogged down by physical gaps, from challenges in commuting to the availability of special needs spaces – remote work is fast closing these physical gaps. PWDs are enjoying liberation and performing at their peak as technology creates personalised workspaces that cater to specific PWDs’ needs. As a result of remote work going hand in hand with technology, disability inclusion is in immersion. Employers are widening their hiring scope to include PWDs like never before.
One in every six people in the world has a disability with either of these impairments – visual, hearing, mobility, speech, cognitive, or neurological impairments – or a combination of them. People with disabilities (PWDs) are the largest minority group in the world. And they are 50% less likely to be employed. The jobs that PWDs do get are usually at lower corporate levels. PWDs earn less than $21,000 annually compared to able-bodied people with the same education levels.
The pandemic and the related remote work opportunities became an unlikely boon for disability diversity and inclusion. When global lockdowns commenced, work-from-home proved to be viable. This opened a whole new perspective – that remote work can be extended to people who have commuting challenges and different needs due to their disability. The situation of PWDs being confined to their homes, was suddenly experienced by global able-bodied people. And the realisation is becoming a technological and sustainable employment revolution.
Not all public spheres and workplaces are accessible to PWDs. Employer’s biases can happen as hiring PWDs in an on-site workplace means installing ramps, elevators, a roomy washroom, and parking allocation, which are all accessibility facilities. Specialised equipment is also a necessity. Remote work renders all these unnecessary. PWDs can work-from-home just like any able-bodied person can as proved by the pandemic era’s life adjustment. The disabled workforce can be as productive and efficacious as the rest of the workforce. Also, visible disability will be less visible in remote work surroundings – this can increase confidence in PWDs.
Technology-powered remote work allows the creation of tailor-made workspaces and work enhancement for PWDs
Different disabilities have unique needs. Technologically supercharged remote work promotes workplaces that consider the specific needs of disabled workers. Visually impaired or quadriplegics can use voice recognition software to operate a computer and become efficient workers. Those with hearing impairments can use the closed captioning installed in apps like Zoom and MS Teams. Technology is bridging the disability and employment gaps, proving that disabled employees can be as productive as able-bodied employees and deliver quality work. Employers’ unconscious bias dismantles as remote work makes PWDs rise to the occasion. More PWDs will be presented with job opportunities encouraged by technological advancements and enhancements such as:
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Top companies are swearing by remote work’s potential in the future of work
Last year, big companies like Facebook, Upwork, Spotify, and Dropbox made big announcements regarding their adaptability to remote work and their future plans for remote work implementation. This bodes well for disability inclusion.
What does the future of work hold for PWDs?
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” This quote by Alvin Toffler rings deeply true because according to Dell, 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. This leaves a leeway to reskill and upskill PWDs so they can find remote jobs that require the acquired skills.
Skills in demand include:
- Remote work technological knowledge
- Various forms of communication skills, i.e. overcommunication, digital communication, asynchronous communication
- Critical, logical, and analytical thinking
These newly generated skills will strategically position PWDs in the constantly evolving remote work sphere.
How do companies benefit from hiring PWDs as remote workers?
Tremendous benefits await companies implementing disability inclusion in lieu of remote work. With disabled remote workers, companies may:
- Improve productivity
- Drive innovation
- Attract global talent
- Immerse in diversity and inclusion
- Generate higher revenue
- Draw in customers who choose socially conscious businesses to buy from
- Deepen corporate social responsibility
- Reap reputational benefits
Technology-driven remote work, online training, and self-learning hold immense prospects for PWDs. As a pioneer in remote work, Genashtim has been hiring PWDs who work remotely for nearly 15 years. Genashtim is one of the few companies that proved remote work works and PWDs have what it takes to be productive, motivated, dedicated, and dynamic as a part of the global workforce. Now, the task at hand is to leverage technology to connect more PWDs to the global economy by the means of remote work for the collective benefits of everyone involved.