Does online work suit my needs ?
by Graeme Innes A.M
Dolly Parton's sad lament about having to work 9 to 5 strikes a chord with many of us. What a way to make a livin', it's all takin' and no givin'
Maybe removing the commute may ease some of the pressure.
Emails, video conferences, cloud-based software, and of course, Google. These days, it's hard to imagine life without the internet — particularly our working life.
I can attest to this — being able to work on the go using my iPhone is very convenient. It's one of my main work tools.
With its ever-expanding selection of
apps, programs and platforms, the internet has also brought us more choices in the way that we work — and where we work. Some people now perform their jobs without ever setting foot in an office or traditional workplace.
Working online can come with many benefits. But as with everything, it's essential to balance these benefits against your individual preferences and needs.
Working online, sometimes known as 'teleworking', can mean working entirely from home — or some other location of your choice. Some jobs involve a mix of both — some time in the office, some remote hours.
For some people with a disability, being required to travel to a workplace can top the list of logistical challenges to overcome, and make that Dolly Parton 9 to 5 slog just too hard to bear.
Whether it's a mobility disability, or a psycho-social disability such as anxiety, or something else entirely, being able to work from home may be a deciding factor for you in being able to work at all.
For example, if you have a mobility disability, working online, rather than in an office, can allow you to circumvent daily transport hurdles, and start your day with a short commute from your kitchen to your desk.
This can be a considerable productivity boost, and save you a lot of time. It also means that things like having to call in late to a meeting because your taxi didn't turn up can, happily, become a thing of the past.
If travel and crowds, or the workplace itself, cause you anxiety, then working from home may also be the answer for you.
However, to make the most of working from home, you'll need fast, reliable internet, a good computer, and any other requirements of your job. Your employer may also need to check out your home work space for WH&S requirements.
If working online is sounding good to you, take some time to consider how it will also fit with your general preferences and expectations of work. Online working, with all its flexibility, can also be lonely. Talk to your employer to see if, together, you can build social elements into online working.
Maybe your workplace can set up a teleconferencing camera for meeting link ups, so you're still able to see everyone, and don't just fade into the background as a voice over the conference phone. And if you can, pick up the phone or make a quick video call to chat with colleagues.
An important aspect of many jobs is networking - just think about what gets done around the water-cooler. Despite the rise of social media platforms that make it easier to create and foster professional connections, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, face-to-face networking is irreplaceable. This doesn't mean that online working can't work for you. It's just something to factor in as you design the best possible working environment — whether it's offline or online.
Finally, if your employer is concerned that your disability will cause challenges in either your commute or there workplace, make online working a selling point.
I'm passionate about using technology to minimise the impact of disability. Just as passionate as Dolly is about her songs.
These days, giving employees the option of teleworking is an important part of the employment picture.
What about you — do you have experience teleworking?
If not, would you consider it? How would it help you?
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