AskEARN | Workplace Flexibility Skip to main content

Welcome to AskEARN’s new website. As we transition to our new site, you can still visit EARN’s previous site.

About EARN

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) offers information and resources to help employers recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; build inclusive workplace cultures; and meet diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals. 

Getting Started

Start here to learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; why workplace inclusion of people with disabilities matters; and how EARN’s resources can help.

A woman in a wheelchair addresses three colleagues around a small table

    Phases of Employment

  • A woman in a wheelchair shakes hands with a colleague

    Recruit

    Build a pipeline of talent that includes people with disabilities.

  • Two men work at repairing an engine.

    Hire

    Identify people who have the skills and attributes for the job.

  • A woman with a disability wearing a helmet works in a factory

    Retain

    Keep talented employees with disabilities, including those who acquire them on the job.

  • A man uses sign language to communicate.

    Advance

    Ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities for advancement.

Dinah Cohen Learning Center

EARN’s Learning Center offers a wide range of training resources, including self-paced online courses.

Woman using assistive technology on a computer workstation.

News & Events

EARN makes it easy to stay up-to-date on disability employment news and information. Start by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and eblasts, which will connect you to upcoming events, developing news and promising practices in the world of disability diversity and inclusion. And don’t forget to follow EARN on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

A smiling man with an earpiece sits in a wheelchair

Workplace Flexibility

Learn about the role of workplace flexibility in retention of people with disabilities.  

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 or physical disability, it might mean an adapted schedule to manage medical or physical therapy 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 a job description to capitalize on the employee's 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” (PDF) addresses work/life balance issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. To learn about employer experiences utilizing remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, read “COVID-19 and Remote Work: Findings from a Focus Group of NILG Members” (PDF). The summary report includes challenges, solutions and future considerations.

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.” The policy brief “Exploring the Possibilities: Disability-Inclusive Hybrid Work Models” offers strategies for developing and implementing hybrid work models that are equitable and accessible for all employees, including people with disabilities. The Office of Personnel Management also offers a guide to telework and remote work in the Federal Government (PDF).