Updated: Dec 2, 2019
According to the TUC, there are 373,000 more employees working from home than 10 years ago - a 27% increase . Just over a million people with a disability work from home. Director of the Platform Lift Company, Sean O’Sullivan discusses whether this number could increase if homes were more accessible.
With the arrival of the darker evenings and winter conditions, working from home is an attractive option for many, as you can avoid difficult commutes, which can be very stressful. Commuting is also expensive and - whilst Britain has more than 200 railways stations which offer step-free accessible routes, thanks to the Access for All programme - more needs to be done to improve accessibility to and between platforms.
But even when someone can travel to a place of work, the premises may not be accessible. Therefore, being able to work from home offers another option, providing it is possible to create a working area. A kitchen table or the sofa may suffice as many of us work from laptops, but ideally a dedicated home office or study area creates a much more productive working environment and keeps living space separate.
Creating more space with a platform lift solution
Creating this space isn’t always easy, especially if areas of a home are not accessible. However, there is a new way of overcoming steps, which occupational therapists can implement within a home without losing valuable space.
At the OTAC exhibitions this year, we launched the FlexStep, which provides a two-in-one solution; everyone we spoke to thought it was a fantastic product. This type of lift can be configured as a flight of steps and transformed into a platform lift. The FlexStep is particularly effective in tighter spaces and can be easily integrated with existing steps, by using the same material for the tread and handrails.
Making more areas of a home accessible, with platform lift solutions such as the FlexStep, means additional options to create a working space. This is not only functional but aesthetically pleasing, thereby boosting productivity. Not everyone has the luxury of a spare room to turn into an office, but even a corner of a room can be used as a working area.
With bespoke office furniture, it is possible to transform the smallest of spaces; the trick is to make use of available walls, right from the floor up to the ceiling. A bespoke desk also means it can be made to suit an individual’s needs. (Image right: Bespoke office created by Homewood Furniture)
If there isn’t room inside a home, consider using outdoor space. Steps down into a garden can again be easily overcome with a FlexStep or a platform lift. Garden offices come in all shapes and sizes, so even a small city garden could house a mini office, large enough for a desk and bookshelves.
More opportunities to work from home
The Government’s target is one million more disabled people in work by 2027 , which can really only be achieved if:
the person can travel to a place of work
and the work premises incorporate reasonable adjustments for workers with a disability
or the employer gives the option to work from home
If there is an option to work from home, or indeed set up a business, then there is even greater need for accessible homes. Of course not every home is fully accessible, but solutions like platform lifts enable occupational therapists to enrich living spaces, which could include the provision of a home office or working area that isn’t the sofa or a kitchen table!