UK (Lancaster University) £266,000 award to investigate disability inclusive remote and hybrid working

Lancaster University has been awarded £266,000 for research into ‘Designing inclusive remote and hybrid working to support disabled workers’.

The two year project funded by The Nuffield Foundation is led by Dr Paula Holland from the Faculty of Health and Medicine with Mel Wilkes of the Work Foundation, Dr Alison Collins from Manchester Metropolitan University (formerly of Lancaster University), and Universal Inclusion.

The grant builds on an earlier study on the same topic funded by the City Bridge Trust, which found that access to remote working was important for disabled workers’ health, wellbeing and productivity.

· 70% of disabled workers said that if their employer did not allow them to work remotely, it would negatively impact their physical or mental health

· 85% of disabled workers surveyed felt more productive working from home

· Almost one in five survey respondents who requested additional support or new adjustments while working remotely had their request refused

The study will explore in greater depth disabled workers’ experiences of hybrid and remote working and whether employers’ hybrid working policies address the needs of disabled workers. This will involve working with a group of disabled people and organisations representing people with disabilities.

Dr Holland said: “We found that disabled people particularly valued working at home, especially if they are easily fatigued or in pain, or have multiple impairments. They are reluctant to give up this autonomy but are concerned about being left behind on any return to the office.”

Planned outputs from the project include a Good Practice Guide for disabled workers and employers to ensure working arrangements are inclusive.

Dr Holland and the team have recently delivered seminars on the implications of these preliminary findings for policy and practice to the government’s Joint Work and Health Unit and to the Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit.