In this article, we discuss the unintentional effect of COVID on job accessibility and why we think it is an equalizer for job seekers with disabilities. Even though there is still much room for improvement, it is certainly a step forward from where we were before. Here’s why…
Challenges for Job Seekers Before COVID
Before the pandemic, there was a greater barrier for job seekers with disabilities, especially those with mobility and visual impairment. Attending interviews may be challenging for those that rely on public transportation and paratransit, as those services may be unavailable in some areas. Additionally, the buildings where interviews take place might not be easily accessible to them either. These are inconveniences they will need to deal with daily even after they are hired, so sometimes job seekers with disabilities have no choice but to turn down offers.
Interviewing candidates via video calls and allowing employees to work from home could have solved this problem. However, many employers either did not have the technological infrastructure or did not trust their employees enough. It’s unsurprising as micromanagement and resistance to technology seem to be common characteristics of old-school management style.
After the Pandemic
As the pandemic worsened, businesses needed a way to maintain operation. To protect staff and customers from COVID, employers had to start utilizing technology and allowing their employees to work from home, except for those with a frontline job. Additionally, many working parents need the flexibility to attend to their children during standard work hours with schools being closed. So far, this new normal seems to be working just fine; and it shows that there is no reason why employers can’t accommodate job seekers with disabilities by interviewing them remotely. Later on, allowing them to work from home with flexible hours. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all jobs, but certainly a good portion of them.
Benefits to Employees with Disabilities
Allowing employees to work from home doesn’t only benefit those with mobility impairment. For example, people with Crohn’s disease may work better from home, with convenient access to washrooms due to frequent bowel movements. Also, people with ADHD may find working from the homeless distracting than being in a shared office space. In addition, people that have emotional support needs can have their support animals nearby. These are only a few examples, but it shows how easy it is for employers to accommodate some of the needs their staff may have and improve their quality of working life drastically.
Benefits to Employers
Allowing remote work also means that employers can now hire beyond physical limitations and geographical boundaries. With access to a larger talent pool comes diversity, and it’s been shown that diverse companies produce higher revenue. Another added benefit is that companies can reduce their costs associated with commercial real estate, because they no longer need the space to put staff in. For other benefits associated with hiring persons with disabilities, check out our article in the link.
There’s no doubt that COVID is one of the worst things that has happened in recent human history; we all want this pandemic to end soon. However, we hope that COVID’s unintentional, positive effect on job accessibility is here to stay and will continue to benefit the disability community.