The modern ability to work from home is a lucrative employment option that numerous workers are taking advantage of, including those with disabilities. In fact, the remote work trend has gained so much steam at this point that according to one study, 70 percent of the workers around the world now work outside of the office at least once a week. What’s more, 7.1 percent of all disabled people in the U.S. work from home.
The phenomenon makes sense when you consider one thing: the internet. The connectivity and communication of the world wide web has had a huge impact on how people work, whether they live in an urban center or far out in a more rural location. However, if you don’t have a solid grasp of the tools that the internet provides, it can be difficult to take full advantage of the potential that remote work offers.
If you’re trying to avoid the disability-related barriers to employment that often come with a traditional workspace, here are a few important tools that you’re going to want to be aware of as you set out on your remote working journey.
Working online can be difficult if you keep separate documents on your computer, phone, laptop, and other IoT devices. Instead of spreading things out, take the time to set up an online cloud storage solution where you can keep everything organized and easily stored in one space. This provides:
- Digital security
- Regular backing up of documents
- Remote access from anywhere
- Efficient storage
Popular online storage spaces include iCloud Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Find an option that works well for your particular situation and then consolidate your data onto that space.
One of the best tools that can facilitate productive remote work is a good set of Bluetooth headphones. The ability to receive and make calls while keeping your arms free so you can move around can make your life much easier, especially if you work a phone-intensive remote job like customer service.
In addition, a quality Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and speaker set up can allow you to run your home-based operations without having to constantly move around, as well as offer you more flexible seating, standing, and other options depending on your needs.
Google’s entire suite of applications is not only an excellent set of remote tools, but it’s also very popular. A great deal of the online work world runs through Google’s remote work tools, which makes them particularly useful to become acquainted with. The Google Suite offers a variety of different tools, including:
- Google Drive
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
- Google Forms
- Google Calendar
- Google Hangouts
Consider, for example, a freelance writer — which happens to be an excellent line of work for anyone with a disability who is looking to work from home. A writer might fill out a Google form while applying to a particular job in the gig economy. If they land the job, they can use Google Docs to draft their articles and documents. They can then store the Google Doc in Google Drive, keeping their personal computer hard drive not only clear but allowing for a separation of work and non-work.
Once complete, they can let their client know via Gmail or Google Hangouts. Then, once they are paid for their work, they can track the payment in a Google Sheets spreadsheet and easily tally their income at the end of the year for tax purposes.
It’s difficult to sign on the dotted line when you’re working with someone who lives half a world away. Fortunately, the remote world has become accustomed to the use of electronic signatures.
Chances are you’ve had to sign your electronic signature before, but when working remotely, it can become a common occurrence. Make sure to take the time to learn the ins and outs of how electronic signatures work. In particular, look for the following methods of establishing user identity that can show you the situation is safe and secure to apply your e-signature:
- Asking for key uploads (like a picture or ID)
- Using email authentication
- A dynamic KBA system that confirms your identity through credit reports and public records
If one of these methods are being used, you can rest in the fact that the organization asking for your signature is doing its homework.
Finally, a lesser-known remote work tool that is particularly helpful for those who own their own business is user testing. The concept of testing a product or service used to be an in-person affair. Now, though, online user testing has become an essential element to success.
If you operate a successful blog or run an eCommerce company, make sure to utilize the power of remote user testing to improve your online offerings with minimal time or money spent. This includes testing the overall effectiveness of your website, how readable your blog posts are, the ease of signing up for your newsletter, and so on. User testing is exactly that — testing a product or service via real people, allowing you true insight into how you’re presenting yourself, no matter what you’re selling or offering. And when your income is on the line, those things become more important than ever.
Using remote tools to your advantage
If you’re planning on working from home, there has never been a better time to do so. In spite of an increasing level of awareness, the traditional work world is still filled with numerous barriers to employment for those working with a disability. Fortunately, remote work offers a wonderful way to work around these challenges.
However, as is the case with any employment scenario, if you go into the remote work world ill-prepared, you’re going to find yourself at a disadvantage. Whether you’re learning about Google Suite, moving your documents to a cloud-based storage system, or purchasing a quality set of Bluetooth headphones, make sure to set yourself up for online success by availing yourself of the plethora of remote tools available.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.