October 31 marked the end of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Disability Awareness Month “celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and employees.”
Fortunately, creating policies that help people with disabilities find employment is something businesses and policymakers can do year-round, namely, through supporting remote work.
Remote work is either fully remote (Monday-Friday, 9-5) or hybrid, with some days in the office. Both formats offer people with disabilities freedom and flexibility to manage their schedules and medical needs.
As I stated in my Policy Focus, people with disabilities benefit from remote work policies enacted in response to COVID-19 lockdowns, “A study by the Economic Innovation Group think tank shows that in 2022, the employment rate for people with disabilities was the highest in over a decade. Although this may be attributed to a tight labor market, remote work’s flexibility has positively impacted workforce participation for those with disabilities.” The data suggests that remote work can have a positive impact on employment for those with disabilities, and working professionals echo this sentiment.
Deb Weiner, a senior marketing professional at the Nuclear Energy Institute, recently wrote “Five Tips on Being an Ally to Employees and Colleagues With Disabilities,” which includes “Flexible Work Arrangements: Provide flexible work options, such as remote work, hybrid, adjustable hours, or job-sharing, to accommodate diverse needs.” The article concludes, “By genuinely embracing employees with disabilities…organizations can unlock untapped potential, cultivate a truly diverse and vibrant workplace culture, and sharpen their competitive edge.” Creating a flexible work environment that includes remote work helps companies attract qualified employees who might otherwise be overlooked and, therefore, sharpens their competitive edge.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is over, but all year long, companies would be wise to consider remote work policies that help attract qualified talent pools. Meanwhile, policymakers at state and federal levels should pursue policies that give families and businesses the maximum freedom to pursue business practices and employment that work for them.