Today more than ever, employers are thinking outside the proverbial box to meet the diverse needs of individual employees—and realizing that doing so can be a key strategy for retraining talented workers, including those who may develop disabilities, whether due to injury, illness or the natural aging process.
One increasingly popular strategy on this front is workplace flexibility. Workplace flexibility takes many forms. For example, for a new parent, it might mean a part-time work schedule. For a person with a mobility disability, it might mean telecommuting, occasionally or on a full-time basis, to assist with transportation challenges. For a person with a chronic illness, it might mean an adapted schedule to manage medical appointments or medication administration. Regardless of reason, research shows that strategies such as telework and flextime contribute greatly to increased productivity—for all employees, including employees with disabilities.
While workplace flexibility is often associated with when and where employees work, it also covers flexibility of task. That can mean redefining or customizing an individual’s job description to capitalize on their strengths so that they can best assist you in addressing your business needs. Again, this is a practice that can benefit all employees.
A number of resources can assist employers in understanding the many facets of workplace flexibility and how to implement effective flexible employment arrangements. For instance, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has a webpage about flexible work arrangements. Furthermore, the Families and Work Institute’s One Kind Word: Flexibility in the Time of COVID addresses work/life balance issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.
To learn more about adopting an integrated telework policy for employees with and without disabilities, read EARN’s Telework Policy Brief. For more information about the future of remote work and considerations for people with disabilities, read EARN’s Practice Brief: Leveraging the Shift to Remote Work to Increase Employment of People with disabilities.