Month 11 of 2020… Where did this year go? So many of us have used this time to look at life in retrospect. I remember travelling across the country and staying away for the week because it was so important project teams all worked together on the same site. In fact, if you want career progression you need to be flexible – that’s valid for personal time and geography. The first one to arrive, the last one to leave. Be where you’re needed – always, at any time! Wear it as a badge of honour! To this day it’s accepted this is just what corporate life is about. Career progression requires sacrifice.
With lockdown came a ban on travel. Organisations were left with no choice but to quickly accommodate to remote working. The news of a vaccine is bringing hope that normal life can resume soon. But what does normal life that mean exactly? And more importantly: do we want the normal life as we knew it pre-lockdown?
Read the two previous paragraphs again. Pre-lockdown we couldn’t understand or even accept that office work could be done remotely. We didn’t think it would be effective. We didn’t think employees would be productive. Travelling even comes hand-in-hand with career progression. Very recent job adverts still mention travel requirements despite lockdown proving work-related travel is overrated. Some companies are desperate to know when staff can return to the office.
Let’s face it – if certain opportunities are advertised with a requirement for onsite presence or travel but the actual job can be done from just about anywhere, then in essence we’re restricting who such opportunities are available to. We’re overtly discriminating against anyone who has the intellectual ability to do the job, but limited mobility! So, do we really want to go back to our pre-lockdown normal? We have a great opportunity to revisit our definitions of normal, office, career and inclusion in the workplace, so let’s give it a chance!
Lockdown has proven remote working actually works! It has also proven we can be productive with children, pets and life around us in general. This pandemic is a key moment in history that will redefine several aspects of life. So, rather than longing for a return to normal, let’s accept change and consider how we can use it to extend opportunities to as many people as possible! A recent article in the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54693622) explored the work-related challenges keen and talented disabled people have been facing during the pandemic. Why can’t organisations see beyond old-fashioned disability misconceptions? We have the means, let’s make them work to minimise social inequalities.
And on this topic: similar to how quickly organisations managed to accommodate remote working, it should be just as easy to accommodate accessibility! Come on organisations! Jump into the 21st century and don’t miss out on the amazing talented people available to give you their best!