A typical weekday for me involves a long, strenuous commute for work…wheeling to my kitchen table. I work from there most days because my kitchen is wide open and full of natural light. Though I’ve been hard at work to learn how to drive, being a telecommuter is currently the most practical job option for me. I value the chance to work, so I’m lucky that technology makes working from home a possibility. It’s especially fortunate because otherwise I’d have to rely on public transportation, and on Long Island, accessibility of public transport leaves quite a lot to be desired.
I know of some other disabled people who work from home because it’s sometimes the best option to avoid issues with accommodations, accessibility, or transportation. That being said, I want everyone to know that disability does not equal being a shut-in, nor does it equal laziness. As much as I’m working towards my personal independence through driving lessons, I’m dedicated to advocating for the nationwide accessibility we should long since have been living in 23 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For instance, if accessible transportation was the norm, a daily commute to work would be simple for disabled people.
When I was working in Washington, D.C. this past summer, I faced travel issues getting to work because of constant Metro elevator outages. Still, I figured it out. However, if I wanted to do something like work in New York City, that could be quite a challenge considering their subway system hardly even has elevators. So, telecommuting it is – for now.
Aside from some people within the disability community, I’m lucky that I’ve connected with another community made up of tons of people who work from home: bloggers! Blogging can be full time work if you make it that way, and it can be done while balancing other parts of your life.
However, I’m a total people person. I love face-to-face interaction and that’s something I miss about working in an office setting as I’ve done previously for internships. Telecommuting means that most of my contact with the outside world during work hours occurs only via phone and the internet.
In lots of ways, it’s awesome, because it gives me opportunities to connect with people from all over the world that I otherwise would never know about. Just this morning, I called someone for one reason and ended up getting off topic just for a bit to learn more about the research this person has done on one of my absolute favorite topics: disability and sexuality. I love forming unexpected new connections! But it’s a trade-off because I don’t get to experience in-person interactions – bumping into a co-worker in the kitchen, knocking on someone’s door to ask a question, and even sitting in three-hour staff meetings!
Without office buzz, I have to make a concentrated effort to stay motivated. Productivity makes me happy, so even though that’s definitely a great source of energy, I still have to take active steps to stay in gear. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite tips for telecommuters in an upcoming post, but I want to hear more about what other people who work at home do to be successful.