Companies Are Losing Out on an Untapped Resource of Business by Not Promoting Remote Work

Stephanie Diana Eubank is a Silicon Valley Native finishing her Doctorate in Business Administration with a focus on Remote Work and Remote Leadership at Concordia University Chicago’s remote DBA program. Stephanie started her academic journey at California State University East Bay and moved on to Southern New Hampshire University where she completed her Masters in Operations Management with a focus in Project Management. While working towards academic goals she worked full-time in the financial world.

So, I comment a lot on my research blog and on my personal social media about the fact that I am finishing my dissertation towards completing my doctorate degree in Business Administration.  I also note how I have taught Operations Compliance in the financial sector and Operations Management in the California State University System to help share my earned skills with future leadership.  I don’t discuss much while I practice more authentic leadership because I am a disabled student, instructor, and Business Subject Matter Expert. 

The concept of what is traditionally referred to as disabled workforce (the more appropriate term is Differently Abled) is a growing demographic especially in government work.  The EEOC, (EEOC Report Analyzes Situation of Workers with Disabilities in the Federal Workforce 2022); notes that since 2018 the amount of differently abled employees rose 8% to make up 9.42% of the federal workers.  The study done by the EEOC, also found that not only is the workforce demographic in government work growing but, that those in the differently abled communities that are part of this statistic are getting promoted at the same rate as their counterparts. This has been growing since COVID and the growth is unheard of when one thinks about the fact that differently abled workers are told to not disclose their disabilities because they are often met with negative responses, not being offered a job in the first place nor promoted.

Like many of those in the differently abled community I have done a lot to do what I can to mask my disabilities or different abilities.  Only a few supervisors who later became my mentors in the field know about my different abilities. As noted in, Jain-Link & Kennedy (2021); 39% of the work force falls into the federal definitions of being categorically differently abled and less than 24% ever disclose. If one can hide it, then that’s what’s done so that one can get hired or move up with more ease.  Which brings up the fact cited in, Jain-Link & Kennedy (2021); that only 13% of the entire differently abled workforce has obvious different abilities that are visible.

I am part of the group that my different abilities are not obvious as I personally have both dyslexic and have ADHD.  The Yale Center for Dyslexia, Shaywitz & Shaywitz (2020); notes that 20% of the American population has dyslexia.  Further, Shaywitz & Shaywitz (2020); notes that dyslexia is an uncurable disability that can cause issues with reading, spelling, and learning additional languages.  However, Shaywitz & Shaywitz (2020); goes on to note that those with dyslexia are slower readers but are intelligent, mentally fast, and creative problem solvers.   (You can find more information on Dyslexia from the text, https://amzn.to/3KNsKrC, which is the book cited for this information Shaywitz & Shaywitz (2020).) 

The CDC, on their link https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html defines ADHD as one of the most common neurodevelopment disabilities/ different abilities.  However, when those who support and care for those with ADHD and those with different abilities learn how to manage ADHD symptoms, people learn how to capitalize on it.  Such as, I use my hyper-focus on my educational goals and writing.  However, it can make me seem scattered to others even though I can get multiple things done at once and need sound to balance myself.  I even used musical playlists to memorize cross-country running trails in High School and College. It helped me focus and remember landmarks, so I didn’t get lost.  I even still, to this day, have songs I hum when I run on a track or on my home treadmill to keep and set my running pace.  Also, what I thought was insomnia and waking up super early in my high school and undergrad program was, in fact, ADHD-induced insomnia.

This fact about my life and my different abilities is part of what inspires my research in leadership because studies have found that remote work helps increase diversity.  However, when we think of diversity, we often consider race, gender, family status, and sexual orientation.  Disabilities or more Different Abilities are often not considered in business regarding developing more inclusive workplaces.

Remote work allows for a more inclusive workplace and creates more diversity.  I speak from my experience of working remotely for over ten years. Work from home (WFH) workplaces gives me room to be more productive and use the tools to focus I need without bothering others.  It also gives me room to mask my different abilities to not be outed. (And yes, I understand I am outing myself by disclosing my disabilities.  However, this is an important conversation that needs to be had, and those of us in the community need to bring awareness to the ongoing issues).  In both the academic sector as a student and in the business arena, when I disclose my different abilities, I am told it is a disability, and I often receive negative or retaliatory treatment. 

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Remote work allows for a more inclusive workplace and creates more diversity. 

STEPHANIE DIANA EUBANK

My personal experience is supported by the research found in Ameri & Kurtzberg (2022) and Howard (2022); about the difficulty the differently abled community finds in working onsite and obtaining work. Further, the research of Farrer (2022), Kanter (2022), and Willingham (2021); supports my findings that remote work tends to make it easier for differently-abled community members to find and retain work. Although the work that is found and maintained is through masking or hiding one’s different abilities which can cause stress and mental health issue by not living as one’s most authentic self.

So, as a business Subject Matter Expert (SME), I can’t resist pointing out the brass tax.  Otherwise known as why business leaders should care about the differently-abled community.  The biggest reason, besides discrimination, is illegal since the community is a protected class. That reason is that research shows that diversity in a workplace develops a staff of employees that are more creative and have more out-of-the-box methods for solving problems.  With our economy hitched on the development of creative ideas, tangible and intangible goods, out-of-the-box thinking, and creative problem solving are just what every company wants to give them a competitive advantage.  Thus, promoting remote work helps attract more dynamic workers, including those in the differently-abled community.

Conclusion: Companies and managers need to learn to embrace remote work.  Remote work is a good concept for the goose and the gander.  It allows differently-abled workers to have a supportive workplace without really having to create a need to be othered in the workplace. In return, companies get creative problem solvers who help increase out-of-the-box thinking in the workplace.  I keep quoting one of my mentors when she constantly repeats, “Learn to manage the work and not the people.”  The ability of leadership to do this is more easily found in a remote work environment.  All while contributing to more diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

If you are interested in reading up more on this topic, here are some books you may be interested in.

 

Work Cited

Ameri, M., & Kurtzberg , T. R. (2022, February 15). Leveling the playing field through remote work. MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved September 3, 2022

Baines, A. M. D. (2014). (Un)learning disability: Recognizing and changing restrictive views of student ability. Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Chin, J. L., & Trimble, J. E. (2015). Diversity and leadership. Sage.

Farrer, L. (2022, April 14). Accommodating disabilities in remote and hybrid work. Forbes. Retrieved September 3, 2022

Howard, J. (2022, March 22). The benefits of remote work for people with disabilities. InclusionHub Digital Inclusion Resources. Retrieved September 3, 2022

Jain-Link, P., & Kennedy, J. T. (2021, September 13). Why people hide their disabilities at work. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved September 13, 2022,

Kanter, A. S. (2022, March 10). Our new remote workplace culture creates opportunities for disabled employees. Bill of Health. Retrieved September 3, 2022

KEMP, J. O. H. N. D. (2022). Disability-friendly workplace. JOHN WILEY & SONS.

Patel, A. B. (2020). Humanity at work: Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing in an increasingly distributed workforce. New Degree Press.

Reisman, F. K., & Severino, L. (2021). Using creativity to address dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia: Assessments and techniques. Routledge.

Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, J. (2020). Overcoming dyslexia: A major update and revision of the Essential Program for reading problems at any level, incorporating the latest breakthroughs in science, educational methods, technology, and legal accommodations (2nd ed., Ser. pp.143-24.). Alfred A. Knopf.

US Department of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2022, May 19). EEOC Report Analyzes Situation of Workers with Disabilities in the Federal Workforce. US Department of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved September 13, 2022

Willingham, A. J. (2021, August 10). Remote work made life easier for many people with disabilities. they want the option to stay. CNN. Retrieved September 3, 2022

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