Across the globe, teams are operating remotely. Some organizations are not new to remote work while others are having to adapt to a whole new method of communication. For employees with diversabilities (diverse abilities), working remotely has pros and cons. There are often fewer distractions in a home office space, but unique challenges can still arise, especially for individuals who do not commonly work remotely. Below are a few ways to help create accessibility for your remote workforce.
Remove Barriers from Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings have become the norm for remote workers. In fact, video platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts are experiencing regular outages and technical difficulties due to the overwhelming amount of traffic that they are receiving.
As these companies continue to scale their efforts for increasingly common virtual meetings, organizations need to start scaling their accessibility efforts. Most virtual meeting software is accessibility friendly. Zoom, one of the most common platforms for video conferencing, is built to handle closed captioning, provide automatic transcripts, and support screen readers.
Video remote interpreting (VRI) is also a great option for Hard of Hearing and Deaf employees who use American Sign Language (ASL). You can learn more about this service here.
Provide Social Interaction Opportunities – But Don’t Require Them
Working remotely can allow for easier productivity but it can also stunt collaboration and even result in feelings of isolation. Most people are used to water cooler chat in the office or popping into a co-worker’s office to get a quick update on a project. A different work environment requires a new solution.
Programs like Slack and Google Hangouts can give your team a place to chat and get some virtual face-to-face time. Many teams are even planning virtual happy hours and after work hangouts using these platforms. While these channels can help boost morale and give employees a social outlet, not everyone is going to want to participate.
Creating the channels and giving every staff member the option to join is a good initiative, as long as you make sure that you also give employees the option to decline. Individuals with diversabilities may have reasons that they prefer not to engage, from information overload or distraction to finding social situations uncomfortable. Make sure not to pressure them or make these get togethers mandatory.
Ensure Employees Have Access to Their Usual Technology
When your employees are in the office, you provide them with the technology that they need to be successful. You need to do the same when they are working remotely. Providing company laptops, monitors, and accessories helps keep everything streamlined and consistent.
Having familiar software and hardware at home can give employees with diversabilities a feeling of comfort and one less hurdle to overcome in a challenging time. Additionally, you should make sure that any normal accessibility technology you would normally provide in the office is a part of the remote work package.
You should never assume that just because someone has a diversability that they have everything they need at home already. Be sure to ask what will be most helpful for them and to provide what you can to allow them to do their job as well as any other employee in the office.
Helping You Create Accessibility for Your Remote Workforce
If you are still working towards creating an inclusive and accessible environment for your employees, Applied Development can help. We can provide you with the tools and knowledge to create a productive and efficient remote workspace for your employees with diversabilities.