Flexible Work Arrangements

If you have arthritis, the right schedule may help with workplace productivity.

A flexible work arrangement can boost your productivity for a number of reasons. It can be useful if you have children who have tons of activities or you want to combat a long commute. Flexible schedules can also help if you have arthritis and experience symptoms that impact you during the workday.
The good news is that options for flexible schedules exist at many companies. “Many employers today are rethinking traditional job arrangements in order to retain good employees with health conditions who can benefit from a shorter workday and less stress,” explains Lynn Berger, a career counselor in New York City. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible schedules have become much more common.

What Are My Options?

Flexible work arrangements are often optimal for employees whose disability-related limitations impact their ability to commute to work or to work in the office.

The most common types of flexible work arrangements center around work times and work from home options.

Flexible Work Hours: Many employers provide an option for employees to choose their start and end times as long as they either ensure their work is done or meet a threshold of a minimum number of hours a day. Some companies require employees to stick to a set schedule, but others allow adjustments on a weekly or daily basis.

Working from Home: Today’s technology makes it easier to work from home and be fully connected to the workplace. Online conference calling, cloud storage, email, laptops and tablets all ensure that employees have access to the everything they need to get their jobs done.

Working from home is a good alternative if you have:

  • Difficulty commuting to and from work due to disability-related reasons.
  • Limited access to accessible parking.
  • Limited worksite or workstation accessibility.
  • Environmental issues (e.g., construction activities, exposure to chemicals/irritants, temperature sensitivity, problematic lighting).
  • Lack of privacy to manage personal/medical needs, like using the restroom, taking medication or receiving treatment.

Requesting Flexible Work Arrangements

To secure flexible hours and/or a work from home arrangement, you will need to talk with your supervisor or human resources representative. Be prepared and put your request in writing.

According to Berger, you should create a document that outlines every detail of your request. Include how you would communicate with clients, co-workers and supervisors. Also, keep it positive. Explain how this arrangement can be beneficial to both you and your employer.

Flex Work and the ADA

If your doctor has officially diagnosed you as having a disability due to your arthritis, then flexible work arrangements could be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Employers must provide these types of reasonable accommodations when they are effective and do not pose an undue hardship on the employer,” says Linda Batiste, principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Learn more about your rights in the workplace if you have a disability. Find more resources about workplace accommodations from JAN.

Employers can help their employees who have arthritis as well as their organization with free information and resources from the Arthritis Foundation. Learn more at Arthritis@Work.

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