How hybrid models are limiting accessibility.
As I am writing this, I am in bed, propped up by five pillows and barely able to keep my eyes open.
The fatigue is hitting me hard.
What you are reading is a heavily edited version that I have revisited when I can stay awake for more than five minutes.
Fortunately, I am on annual leave today so I don’t have to worry about work. But I’m already worried about being well enough to go into the office on Wednesday (it’s currently Monday).
The shift to remote working has given me access to the workplace in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before. Unless I dedicated my entire life to making sure I can go into work five days a week. And who wants that?
I am incredibly grateful that remote working has become the norm, however as everyone shifts back to the pre-pandemic way of life, hybrid working is taking over.
Naturally, most people see this as an ideal middle ground between working from home and being in the office. Avoid the daily commute but still get to see your co-workers a few times a week; it’s the best of both worlds.
Or at least it should be.
I thought this would be an ideal set up for me, but the reality is there’s more pressure to be well on a particular day every week.
This isn’t achievable when you’re chronically ill.
I cannot guarantee that I can always go into the office on the same day every week.
I might not be able to leave my house to go to work.
But that shouldn’t be a problem.
We have ample evidence that remote work is both efficient and effective. So why is there such a push to go back into offices?
I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that, in my case, a lot of the pressure to be in the office is internalised. There has been no pressure from my employer, who has been incredibly accommodating. It is my fear that people will think I’m not trying hard enough.
That I don’t care. Or I’m lazy. Or any other of the million ableist messages that I’ve internalised.
Working when you have a chronic illness is something of a minefield; one wrong move and it can all blow up.
But that doesn’t mean that it will. And there’s no point living as though it will.
All I can do is try my best to let go of all the internalised pressure and make my job work for me. Whether or not my coworkers think I’m lazy doesn’t change my reality.
I know that I’m not and that my health places limitations on how I do my job.
That needs to be enough.
I need to be enough.
However, the real problem is with work places reintroducing unnecessary requirements for employees to be in an office. The pandemic has shown how to successful remote working can be and given us methods to increase accessible opportunities for disabled people.
Remote work is the key to me being able to work full time. I cannot make it into an office 5 days a week, but I can make it to my laptop.
More and more job adverts are shifting to a required hybrid model, particularly at entry level, but this fails to consider situations where a fully remote work option may be the only accessible option.
I understand that a hybrid model may be most able-bodied people’s preference, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Advertising the flexibility of your hybrid model is great, but you need to make it clear just how flexible it really is.
By hybrid model, do you mean I must be in the office 2-3 times a week or can I come in only when I’m able?
If I need to work remotely 100% of the time, will that be a problem?
Because if so then your workplace isn’t as accessible as you may think it is.
Read more of my thoughts on disability and chronic illness here.
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