Navigating accessibility in the workplace in a post-COVID world

By: Haley Zilbergerg

Over the last couple of years, the way we work has changed. More jobs are available to people living in regional or rural areas,. We now have some people working from home while homeschooling children, and some people with disabilities have discovered new ways to work that are more accessible for them. 

More and more, people are starting to return to the office, but things don’t need to go back to exactly how they were before. If you’ve discovered new ways to work that are better for you during the pandemic, it’s possible to incorporate these things into your career in the future too. 

As someone with a mobility disability, moving to zoom meetings was a Godsend. Avoiding lengthy travel in order to meet was fantastic. I’m not saying that meeting people physically is not good but establishing a work appropriate rationale for zoom or face to face meetings is useful  

If you want to ask for flexible work arrangements that aren’t the norm or default at your organisation or company, you can do so. If they’re reasonable, an employer should approve your request.  Not everyone is eligible for flexible work arrangements, but you can refer to Fair Work to find out if you are. The following are some flexible ways to work that might make your job more accessible for you.

1. Working from home days

Now that most businesses have adapted to working from home and figured out how to make it work, it’s possible to continue some working from home days if you find it helpful. If you have a chronic illness or have regular appointments, you might find it easier to balance your life with your job working from home some days. 

2. Flexible hours

A lot of businesses have flexitime policies where you can start or end late if something pops up in your life, like picking up your children from school, having a telehealth appointment, or taking your dog to the vet. Flexible hours are great for these things, but if you find that flexitime might help you manage your energy levels, it may be a good idea to consider asking to have flexibility with your start and end times at work. Having flexible hours might also mean you can work shorter work weeks if needed by working some longer hours, or work longer work weeks with shorter hours. 

3. Options for hybrid meetings

One of the most difficult things still left for workplaces to figure out is running meetings for people who are joining in-person and remotely. If there’s no reason you can’t keep working from home aside from in-person meetings, it could be good to give your workplace a nudge towards adopting a hybrid meeting policy. 

How to bring up accessibility in the workplace in a post-COVID world

If you’re bringing up new access needs or accessibility requests that you’ve only just discovered make your life easier, it can be tricky to figure out how to bring it up with your manager or human resources manager. Ultimately, how you choose to approach the subject is up to you, but in general, it can be helpful to schedule a meeting and submit a formal written request. You can refer to the Fair Work website to find out the requirements of a request. You can also check to see if your workplace has a policy related to flexible work arrangement requests. 

If you'd like some advice on how to approach your employer to discuss flexible work arrangements that will benefit both you and the company you work for, please contact Bravo Careers. One of our career consultants will be happy to assist.