When I was first attempting to get a tech job, I thought of job hunting as my full-time job. I threw myself into it… and got nowhere.
I am disabled and I need reasonable accommodations. Here are the things I need in order to be successful at work:
- Remote work
- Flexible work hours
That’s it. That’s the list.
These things are advertised by many companies as standard “perks” of working there. These companies typically don’t hire anyone without many many years of experience, or they only offer remote work and flexible schedules to people who have the most seniority with the company.
And then… covid happened.
Suddenly, employers bent over backwards to accommodate remote work for all. Seemingly overnight, companies were embracing working from home. Companies that claimed they couldn’t let anyone work from home because it would interfere with company “culture” were switching to a fully remote model without a significant (or any) impact on productivity. Suddenly, workers without enough seniority to work from home were able to work from home like their more senior colleagues.
Suddenly, Zoom meetings were the norm, and the ability to work around “Zoom school.”
Suddenly, positions that employers insisted could not be done remote (despite only requiring a computer and internet connection) were made remote.
As if by magic.
Not only did this become no big deal, but the change was instant, without giving workers any grief about it, or requiring proof of their needs.
Disabled people everywhere witnessed this.
Disabled people, who have the highest unemployment rate of any minority group (and whose oppression intersects with many other identities which are also more likely to experience high rates of unemployment), watched companies to everything in their power to help abled workers continue to work and be productive.
Now, as workers are starting to return to their office environments (too soon, if you ask me, but that’s another post for another time), disabled people see that too. We see that as quick as it was to switch to a remote model and become an accessible workplace, we see companies throwing it away, in a race to reinstate the status quo.