Here’s a really interesting article from today’s Daily Telegraph, which looks at how the lockdown has opened up possibilities for people with disabilities for whom home-working is the preferred option.
Working from home hasn’t been the easiest transition for many Britons who suddenly had to hobble together a home office following the UK shutdown in March, but for twenty-six-year-old Charles Bloch “it’s the best thing ever.”
Charles is registered blind. Before lockdown, he had just started a new job at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. A normal commute would require him and his guide dog Carlo to hop on a bus and navigate the busy city centre, dodging bikes, cars and whatever hidden dangers cross their path.
For someone like Charles, who suffers from light sensitivity and has to use a pocket magnifier just to see the bus number, the journey could be a stressful and tiring experience.
“The only positive from lockdown is working from home at the minute,” says Charles. “With my different eye conditions, just travelling to work depending on how big and stressful the journey is will affect my eyes. I could get into the office at 9am and my eyes could be already tired.”
With the commute now obsolete, it’s an entirely different story for Charles: “I can quite easily trot off into my second bedroom which is converted into an office quite nicely,” he says. “I can close the curtains and be in a very dark environment and I can work for hours.”
Charles has always been a big advocate for working from home and he hopes that lockdown will open the door for more flexible and inclusive working in the future.
“I think it’s the sort of thing people in the past have had to fight for the sort of privilege almost to be able to work from home,” he says. “But now that we’ve all been forced to do it, we’ve realised that those people who work from home don’t just slack off all day.”
“If a disabled person like myself can work better at home, the employer should definitely now understand that they’re capable of having remote workers.”
“We have entered a world where vast swathes of society can personally relate to what it is like to be excluded. Isolation has been mainstreamed,” says Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500, a workplace disability initiative. “The pandemic has clearly shown what business can learn from people with disabilities in the face of isolation and remote working.”