TAIT: Work from home opens opportunities for people with disabilities

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If the world’s wonderful word wizard William Shakespeare were among us today — not to suggest, in any way, he is not — he would have abundant topical material.

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Can you imagine Sir Shakespeare — I don’t know if he is a sir, but dammit, it sounds good — sitting in front of a laptop with, perhaps, a cup of tea, or, alas, a stronger substance? Like a great writer Shakespeare could very well revert to some of his best material. Like from the very early 1600s. Hamlet, remember? “To be or not to be?” Referencing such a monumental methodical motion is worthy, perhaps. Just not in this said essay.

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If Sir William surveyed Downtown Edmonton — and for that matter, any Canadian metropolitan business district — his century distilled query could be slightly altered … but still cause cerebral contemplation.
“To return to the office or not return? That is the question.” Indeed.

The COVID-19 breadcrumbs continue to be unceremoniously kicked down empty abandoned sidewalks. \

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When COVID-19 first took its global aimless strike in 2020, we all hunkered down at home. For countless people, the commute to the office was replaced, due to public health orders, from a white-knuckled drive from the suburbs — every hair in place, of course — to the office with a slow saunter down the hallway or basement.

Hair do? No problem. Suit back from the cleaners? Not an issue. Thermos full of a favourite beverage? The house kitchen isn’t far away. Working at home, first out of health concerns — but now, perhaps, out of convenience.

And, frankly, those new circumstances are a new way of doing business … a new way of life. While some, understandably, balk and have challenges adapting to the new career atmosphere, it opens the door for people with disabilities.

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In all honesty I don’t know — despite my editor’s inner thoughts — if I would have, gratefully, lasted in the news business if I could not have worked from home exclusively from 1998.

The domino effect for someone with a disability, like myself who lives with cerebral palsy, plays out. If my morning home care is running late because of someone else needing extra time … if my ride to my place of work is late and I miss an important meeting, it not only is hard on my professional resume, it is most regrettably a waste of time. Not for my employer. But for me as well.

Google doesn’t bury the lead. Look up the unemployment rate of Canadians with disabilities. It’s 26 per cent — five times more than those without disabilities.

Are we shying away from a potential huge part of the Canadian workforce? It is — hark! — a most intriguing question. I wonder how William Shakespeare would phrase that.


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