How COVID-19 has improved workplaces for people with disability
August 7, 2020
by Joshua Cook

How COVID-19 has improved workplaces for people with disability

COVID-19 has presented Australian businesses with numerous challenges. This has forced many to flexibly transform their workplace practices and increasingly use innovative technology to collaborate whilst working remotely. 

These technologies – such as Zoom and Slack – have provided Australians with the opportunity to embrace the benefit and importance of enhanced work accessibility. The flexible and remote workplace changes have therefore helped businesses to breakthru employment barriers that restrict people with disability. 

Enhanced accessibility

The new ways of working have enabled the disability community to participate more meaningfully within both their work and society. The benefits of the current flexible and remote working arrangements for people with disability include:  

  • more employment opportunities for people with disability who may experience difficulty travelling independently;
  • reduced pressure on people with disability who may experience anxiety in public spaces;
  • ability to work at the pace and hours best suited to people with disability;
  • incorporating people with disability already working remotely or part-time in meetings and decisions; and,
  • significantly reduced commuting times.

Online workshops and meetings also have more options for customisation, such as: 

  • using closed captions;
  • allowing written messaging during meetings; and,
  • limiting background noise.

The flexible and remote working model also significantly benefits businesses by: 

  • saving on office related expenses;
  • enhancing employee engagement by improving work-life balance;
  • positioning the organisation as an attractive employer through:
  • reducing employee turnover; and,
  • recruiting skilled workers regardless of their location.

Future opportunities

People with disability have always possessed expertise in problem-solving, adaptability, resourcefulness and resilience within the workplace. This is due to their lived experience of needing to perform in adverse circumstances and overcome social barriers.  

The previous employment norm could often be isolating and frustrating for many within the working population. The flexible and remote working model has therefore become increasingly popular amongst the Australian workforce. For instance, a recent survey of 5000 workers in Australia, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom has revealed that more than two-thirds have experienced extra productivity and one-third have felt less stress whilst working remotely. Businesses have also reported greater agility and reduced disruption.  

The previous working environment’s rigidity often limited both people with disability and businesses; however, COVID-19 has provided organisations with an opportunity to operate in more dynamic and disability-friendly ways. This is because these practices have enabled the disability community to promote their innovation and productivity and access better-paid employment. 

These changes suggest that the flexible and remote workplace model should continue being offered post-pandemic. Encouraging this model will make organisations more disability confident and ensure people with disability are included. This is feasible given that COVID-19 has illustrated how quickly systems can be adapted. 

How breakthru helps

breakthru understands that the COVID-19 changes can be unsettling. We can help your business adapt to the pandemic environment and facilitate workplace adjustments to better accommodate people with disability. breakthru’s assistance will nurture the best possible outcomes and help your business to thrive.

To receive business support, simply contact one of our friendly staff today. 

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