Working while living with a spinal cord injury can be tough. Many people with spinal cord injuries worry about what the typical 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM job in an office might look like for them, keeping in mind their personal and medical needs. However, working from home rather than working at the workplace can greatly improve your experience on the job while also allowing you the comfort and stability of your own home. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that working from home can be considered a reasonable accommodation for an employer to provide an employee.
Working from home can be considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA if remote work helps remove one or more of the following obstacles: a lack of workplace accessibility; exposure to bacteria and viruses; environmental factors that affect disability such as temperature, chemicals, and lighting; transportation issues due to disability; tight work schedule; distractions affecting concentration; and a lack of facilities for tending to medical and personal needs. If working at home would remove one or more of the following barriers to employment for you as a worker with a spinal cord injury, you may be eligible for a work-from-home accommodation.
Common Work-from-Home Jobs
If you are interested in working from home, choose a job that is typically done from home, regardless of the employee’s disability status:
- Customer Service and Support Work: These jobs are great for people with superior written and verbal communication skills. Other skills that may be needed for these jobs are knowledge of certain products and the ability to problem-solve. Any jobs that involve primarily over-the-phone or over-email work, including many customer service and support positions, can usually be done remotely.
- Tutoring: If you have experience in teaching or if you have excelled at a particular standardized test, you may be qualified to be a Tutor. Being a remote Tutor involves interacting with students and helping them improve their academic performance or prepare for an important exam.
- Transcribing Jobs: Transcription is the act of listening to audio and typing the words that were spoken. Typing skills and a strong ability to hear are necessary for transcription jobs. Often times, people with transcription jobs undergo specialized training for their field, such as medical scribes and legal scribes. These trainings typically take place after the employee is hired.
- Proofreading and Writing Positions: These jobs are great fits for people with former experience in developing written communication skills. They require the ability to conduct research, develop content, and make any necessary grammar, spelling, and factual corrections to content that is already written.
How to Request Working from Home
If you are interested in positions beyond those that are commonly work-from-home jobs, you may have the option of requesting a work-from-home accommodation from an employer. As mentioned above, working from home is a valid accommodation under the ADA. However, just because working from home can be considered an ADA accommodation does not mean that your employer is required to meet your request. An employer may deny a request for remote work as long as they provide another, suitable accommodation for the employee. This means that you should come prepared while requesting a work-from-home accommodation.
Before requesting that you perform your job remotely, consider the frequency of your remote work. Will you be asking to work from home full-time, or are you asking to work from home on certain days each week? Asking for a few days each week to work from home rather than full-time remote work may be beneficial when first requesting an accommodation from your employer. Then, you can prove to your employer that you are a reliable employee who can succeed while working from home, and eventually, your employer may be willing to shift you to full-time remote work.
As well as considering the frequency of your remote work, consider the situations in which you may need to be in-person. Does your job require any in-person interactions, such as one-on-one meetings with clients? Come prepared to your accommodation request meeting with solutions to these interactions, such as being present in-person for client meetings or communicating with clients over conference call instead. Lastly, consider supervision for your work-from-home employment. How will you be supervised, and how will your employers know you are completing all necessary work?
Present your supervisor with the option of checking in via phone or email at certain times of the day so they can ensure you are doing your work. If your employer agrees to allow you to work from home, make sure you understand how many times each day you should be checking in with your supervisor.
Being a worker with a spinal cord injury can be tough, but working from home can solve many issues that come with full-time, in-person employment. Remote work can expand your career opportunities while increasing your financial and personal independence. If you have questions about work-from-home jobs or requesting work-from-home accommodations from an employer, contact us today.