Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Digital Nomads with Disabilities
By Amirali Khezrey (07/09/21)
“It’s Rude Not to Stare” – Channel 4, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games.
If being a digital nomad brings its own challenges, then digital nomads with disabilities have it twice as tough.
The same is true for digital nomads with disabilities, facing myriad cultural attitudes and obstacles that others do not have to contend with.
Working from home
Working from home – or working from somewhere far from home – gives us the potential to strike that perfect work/life balance.
How does this affect those with disabilities?
Many individuals with disabilities (and those without) have argued that the good ol’ days of attending the workplace “just for the sake of it” is a “waste of time”.
Money. Productivity. Comfort.
These are the top 3 factors being mentioned by disabled workers who are working from home.
A recent video from the BBC highlighted how a worker with autism was losing £5,500 on transport fees from their minimum wage job, when they only earned £12,000.
Imagine spending almost half your wages just to travel, day-to-day, within your own country, one of the most advanced economies of the world.
But what about employers?
How does remote working affect employers?
Well, the answer to this question depends entirely on each individual employer.
Some employers spend a great deal of money on hiring out spacious offices with high-tech equipment to maintain a certain image. They are now wondering whether all that space is actually needed.
Many employers do focus on the ethos of the company and sustaining a healthy relationship amongst employees and clients. These employers carefully consider feedback given to them by employees and clients, and always find ways of adapting their business. They are beginning to allow employees to work from the comfort of their own home when attendance is not necessary.
In turn, this approach increases the effort and productivity of workers and cuts down on costs for office space. This mutual benefit enables businesses to redistribute money elsewhere. It could be spent on advertisements, and allows for employees to save money on commuting.
These employers are the future-thinkers and trend setters we need!
Digital nomads with disabilities
The digital nomad lifestyle is not the perfect system, especially for those with disabilities.
Usually, digital nomads often find themselves working away in Cafés or libraries whenever they cannot work at home. Such locations are not always friendly to those who suffer from physical disabilities. Wheelchair users often face the struggles of inaccessible ramps, getting stuck in narrow doors, and racing for space into lifts.
Those who are deaf or hard of hearing may come across communication issues. They sometimes require a sign language interpreter present. As such, phone calls and virtual meetings without video functionality could prove problematic.
Blind or partially sighted individuals can face problems with having to stare at computer screens for a long period of time or having to maneuver around and often busy Café.
Physical aspects aside, there are also those of us suffering from mental disabilities. Individuals facing mental disabilities such as bipolar disorder or severe anxiety may find it uncomfortable to be surrounded by others outside their own homes.
Likewise, it’s also important to consider that not all countries are considerate towards those with disabilities. A great number of digital nomads choose to work abroad in countries such as Thailand.
This could be a huge issue!
Various third-world countries including Thailand struggle to facilitate the necessary equipments and spaces required to satisfy the needs of physically and mentally disabled individuals. This would make it extremely difficult for digital nomads with disabilities to work effectively, as they may require assistance on certain matters that such countries may be unable to provide.
It’s rude not to share
The benefits of being a digital nomad should be open to all, shared with all.
Figuring out tax rules, company ownership regulations or visa requirements is tough enough, but factor in more practical impediments and it becomes very difficult for many people with disabilities to live the digital nomad dream.
That cannot be right.
The community we are building here at Adviserly is one of shared opportunities, shared experiences and shared dreams. We believe that it is vital to take a step back and listen, understanding each other’s challenges, and working together to solve them, whatever they are.
In doing so, we can improve the work/life balance for employees, employers and freelancers alike.
It’s rude not to share, because we are stronger together!