Over 14 percent of Canadians are living with disabilities today. As more workplaces strive to provide an inclusive and accessible work environment, let us look at a portion of the labor force that has been overlooked: freelancers and the gig economy. Randstad Canada estimates that remote, self-employed and independent workers now account for up to 30 percent of the Canadian workforce. More seniors are also pursuing second careers while 5.3 percent of workers say they moonlight on the side. For those that opt to be digital nomads and freelancers, their home tends to be the place where they spend a large portion of time working. Therefore, setting up a comfortable and accessible home office is an important requirement in getting their work done.

Consider Navigation In Your Layout

Both your layout and the space you choose for your home office plays a part in your comfort and accessibility. Leave enough space so that you can comfortably navigate the office with any mobility aids if needed. Small, cluttered spaces will be difficult to navigate for those who use disability equipment or wheelchairs. One small change you can make to the room is to widen your door frame or to reverse the opening direction. When planning the layout and the furniture, a good tip is to measure and imagine the room with the furniture in it. This way you avoid ending up with a home office that is simply overwhelmed with furniture too large or at odd angles.

Go Smart With Your Furniture And Fittings

Height adjustable and flexible furniture can help with aligning the workspace to perfectly suit you at different times. For instance, those in wheelchairs or limited arm reach may need a lower desk than standard models. Adjustable chairs allow for customizable support as needed. Meanwhile, some versions of adjustable workspaces include features such as movable storage, sit to stand angles and the ability to fold away once done (for smaller spaces).

This also applies to equipment such as computers and plug sockets. Most of them are designed to be located under desks which is not ideal for someone with a disability. Opt for a desktop plug socket instead to remove this hazard. Automated aids can address accessibility problems faced by seniors, obese or others that find movement difficult. One example is the inclusion of voice-activated power outlets that can be operated using a timer; meaning you can turn your lights or office equipment on at a preset time or using your smartphone. The same can be done for your room lighting thanks to a voice or movement controlled smart lighting plan.

Design Everything In Reach

When designing the office, make sure that your essentials such as stationary, laptops and other needed equipment are all strategically positioned within reach while working. This reduces the discomfort factor and can improve your productivity in a workday. For older workers and others with disabilities, movement can take more time. Setting up your work station in an ergonomic and conducive way to the way you work makes the workday go smoother. This can be as simple as organizing equipment in the order within your work process or positioning the printer within hand reach of your laptop.

Look Out For Wiring Hazards

An important part of preparing an accessible friendly space is the removal of hazards. In the home office, this includes wiring from electrical equipment. They can easily cause you to trip or fall. Wifi-enabled and smart appliances can remove this hazard completely by negating the need for a wired connection.

Working from home can be just as productive as a workplace, and it should be for everyone. With the right design and a few simple tips when doing it, you can make sure your home office is comfortable, convenient and comfortable. With the perfect work environment attained, you can then focus on achieving your career goals.

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