Back in October I was asked by a fellow blogger “When you got your job, did you have to negotiate for any accommodations? If so, how did you go about that? Could you do a blog on that please“. So I thought I would finally get around to it today. Here you go Fibronacci.
It’s a hard question I am not going to lie because I was very open about my condition from the beginning. During my first day meeting with the Manager and Director when they were asking me why I was interested in the role etc. I explained to them straight away my condition and how it can affect me physically in different ways. Obviously then they were curious because “I’m too young to get Arthritis” and so I went into more depth and detail on how it all started.
I felt it was essential to tell them this as early as possible during the interview so that they ‘knew what they were dealing with‘ but mainly to just get it out there as soon as possible. At the end of the day it is who I am – a part of me and not something I can just leave at the door or do on a break like smoking for example. I’ve tried hiding it in the past and that does not get you anywhere, you can only get away with it for so long and then you end up having a flare-up or the cold weather kicks in which we all know does not help!
So after talking in-depth about how this all came about and answering their questions, they asked me how I would be for work/what effects would this job have on me. So again, I was brutally honest:
- With it being a desk job it shouldn’t be too bad on my legs, I’ll just need to walk around every now and again so they don’t seize up.
- It would be my wrists that would be the larger issue with the writing/typing, but I assured them that I had wrist splints to use in these situations.
- My Back would be the only other issue in the office, which I suppose is the same for everyone at a desk job. But again I explained how it was all linked with my legs and hips and when one goes, the rest follow in a domino effect.
- My final issue would not be in the work place but the getting to the work place. On flare-up days, colder/damper days or just days where my immune system is failing again a domino effect starts up and my whole body seems to not want to work, the majority of the time leaving me bed bound.
Of course, they were very sympathetic to this description and grateful for my honesty and from this, stated that they would happily aid in any way they could.
We sat and discussed several scenarios in order to come up with a resolve at the end of it which would best suit myself as well as the company, here is what we came up with:
- I was given a company laptop and mobile phone, allowing me to work from home, keep in contact with the office and of course, keeping my hours so I would still get paid. (HA! No more flare-ups getting completely in the way)
- I was given my own individual desk, rather than one of the joint desks. This allowing me my own space to stretch my legs and move around without being in the way of anyone else.
- I was allowed to pick from the spare office chairs to see which one was more suited to my back. I was given several cushions too, in case I needed extra support and told to inform then if I required a different chair ASAP.
- As for the writing, they supplied me with one of their keyboards which was ‘soft press’ (making up phrases now – basically the keys were easy to press, not hard like clicking a switch), which of course does wonders for my hands and wrist.
- I was also offered a company car if ever I felt I would need one, rather than getting public transport into the office – I turned it down for now but they have made it very clear that I am welcome to one at any time.
All in all I was very lucky to have had such an understanding and supportive team who are happy to help in any way that they can. They are constantly making sure that everything is okay and suitable, not just for me but all of their staff members, doing everything that they can to make their working life easier.
I definitely think for anyone with a Chronic illness going into employment, the key is to be completely honest from the start. Yea okay, not all companies will be as understanding or flexible but there is no point pretending to be something that you are not. Be honest from the start and come to an agreement that both you and the company can benefit from.
I hope that you all find this useful, I know it’s probably not as informative in all aspects of accommodations at work but I hope it gives you the basics that you need. Let me know if you have any questions or if you have any experiences with this yourself, please drop a comment below or leave a link! I’m sure we would all benefit from it!
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