A peek at how telecomuting can make a difference in the lives of people living with, or caring for, people with chronic illness and disabilities.
This telecommuter is a tired one today. I am a single parent with two children with Type 1 Diabetes. Last night was a rough one — both kids had high blood sugars that necessitated additional insulin and monitoring at regular intervals throughout the night. It was 3:30 am before my weary head hit the pillow.
Days like these make me incredibly thankful that I am able to work from home. Typically, I am writing by 6:30 or 7:00 am, but today, it is 8:00 am before the first sip of coffee hits my lips. I don’t usually work in my pajamas or yoga pants, but I can, and I am.
I’m not alone.
Millions of people world wide live with a disability. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that over 54 Million Americans or 19% of the U.S population have some sort of disability. It reports “Disabled persons, as other members of society, have demand to be engaged in significant work, useful for society and for them.”
We all desire to engage in meaningful work. People with disabilities are no different. “Many people with disabilities have the desire and capabilities to work from their homes. These individuals, many with good job skills, and a strong work ethic, constitute a hidden labour pool” (West and Anderson, 2005).
Telecommuting Loneliness is a genuine factor to the live of people who work from home. Would a disabled person feel this isolation to a greater degree? Not so, finds a Virginia Commonwealth University and MITE study (2001) which found that 90% of disabled teleworkers did not feel socially isolated during teleworking. These people achieved a balance between their work and family life (Anderson, 2003)
Work Life Balance is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. As with able-bodied people, working at home provides disabled people with an increased sense of control over their lives, leading to “greater productivity, better health, and increased morale.”. (Xu et al., 2006)
Telework is not for everyone (or every organization), and it isn’t the only viable choice for people with disabilities, either. But for those whom telework is a good fit, based on their own personal ambitions, attitudes, and work habits, it is an effective way for millions of people around the world to be gainfully employed while considering their unique situation.
Thankfully, long nights like last night are not too frequent. But they happen often enough. Hopping in my truckfor an early morning commute today would not be the safest (or most productive) choice I could make.
But call in a sick day? I need those for appointments, days the kids get sent home sick from school, and emergencies that dwarf my own exhaustion as a parent/caregiver. I know that those extra hours of sleep this morning will make a world of difference in my day today.
Do you have any stories to share about telecommuting and disabilities or chronic illness? We’d love to know how telecommuting has impacted your life.