The Remote and Hybrid Work Model Through an Accessibility Lens


Overhead view of female freelancer in wheelchair reviewing documents in front of a laptop working from a home office

In early 2020, as a result of the pandemic, many of us were forced to transition to remote work to maintain social distancing and safety. While this was a challenge for many, it became a huge advantage for people with disabilities like myself as it created new employment opportunities and removed many of the common barriers that are faced in a physical work setting such as disclosing a disability, requesting accommodations, needing flexibility, and at times fitting into the work culture.

In past years, the concept of working from home was not really embraced, or even thought to be possible, the pandemic proved otherwise. In fact, technology played a large role in keeping us all connected both personally and professionally. And now as employers are transitioning to a hybrid work model, it is crucial to ensure that this new way of work is accessible, inclusive, and supportive particularly for those of us who live with a disability so that we are set up for success. While there are many areas to explore, here are three to consider: 

Accessible work stations

For many, our home offices became the dining room table, kitchen counter, or our beds. That may have worked temporarily, but if working from home is now a more permanent situation, it would be beneficial to check in with your team to ensure that they have the appropriate tools in place. Accessible work stations can very from ergonomic chairs, keyboards, mice, and sit/stand stations, just to name a few. To ensure that employees have a comfortable work station will not only increase productivity, but will also make them feel like the company is invested in their success. We know that for the most part, most workplace accommodations do not cost the employer anything, or very little.   

Technological needs

A key aspect of hybrid work revolves around being well versed in technology. In a traditional workplace pre-pandemic, that meant having computer skills, but now, it is so much more. Not only are we expected to have computer skills, but in most cases, we are now required to know how to access and effectively use video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and also know how to use cloud storage. On top of that, it is integral that these digital platforms are set up for those individuals who use assistive technology such as screen readers like myself, or closed captioning in a Zoom meeting. Ensuring that employees have the appropriate skills to utilize these tools successfully will play an integral role in the entire team’s success, so take the time to check in with your team to ensure that your digital tools are accessible for all.

Self care

For me, working from home has allowed me to better manage my health and wellness and create more work/life balance, but for many, working from home is isolating as they don’t have those opportunities to congregate in the communal kitchen or water cooler. For this reason, it is that much more important to be intentional about promoting connection among teams and encouraging self-care, i.e., take breaks, be open to flexible work schedules, and encourage engagement among team members. .

As we once again adjust to our new norm of hybrid work, my hope is that employers will be intentional and purposeful about setting all employees up for success, especially for those who live with a disability.  

About Anu

Anu is one of Untapped Accessibility’s associate consultants, and brings over 25 years of experience in the areas of diversity and inclusion training, vocational consulting, media and advocacy.

Anu’s professional experience includes consultation and training on workplace inclusion, website and online accessibility testing, writing and content review, project management, vocational rehabilitation, podcast production and coaching.