The Advantages of Remote Work

I am always sceptical when megatrends are proclaimed. When the big lockdowns started about two years ago and Corona restricted our lives for a long time, many assumed that this would trigger the digital revolution many of us have been waiting for. There would be less travel circus, we would do more online meetings and home office regulations would become more generous.

This may be the case with many organisations, but it seems to me to be the exception rather than the rule. On the contrary, many organisations are returning to the old presence reality. Since February, I have been receiving requests for presence appointments in Berlin and the like. These are lectures that last one or two hours. Of course, it could be that many just need a comparison offer and wouldn't book me anyway. However, many are serious: I am supposed to spend over ten hours on the train + overnight stay to give one of my standard lectures and have a few cups of coffee + sandwiches.

In the past, I actually took such appointments, it was easy to combine with open training sessions or private meetings. At the moment, however, it's too exhausting for me. My suggestion to do it remotely is almost always rejected. My physical presence seems to be worth a lot to persons.

I also hear from friends and acquaintances that remote options are being phased out. Meetings are taking place again for which persons travel for hours - gladly by plane or car. Many conferences are taking place again without remote options. In times like these, this can be called ecological and economic nonsense.

For many disabled persons, this is likely to be a step backwards in terms of accessibility. This is especially true for persons who depend on public transport. For non-disabled persons it is stress, for disabled persons it is often an ordeal.

By the way, I personally have nothing against working in the office, I did that for a long time and as long as it doesn't mean commuting, I will always prefer that. But I have the advantage that I live centrally in a big city and can reach almost everything on foot or quickly by public transport.

Even though it often sounds different here, I prefer face-to-face meetings to online communication. However, everything should be proportionate. To some extent it wasn't before Corona and it looks like it will be again.

Home office has many advantages that apply particularly strongly to disabled persons. For example, one is more often tied to a specific location, for example because of a accessible flat or because of social ties. Public transport is far from being accessible, and unfortunately this also applies to many organisational buildings, event venues or places to stay.

In addition, it has to be said that Corona is by no means far away. For persons with lung or other chronic diseases, it can still mean a death sentence. If remote options are now gradually eliminated, these persons will be disadvantaged.

My conclusion is that employers and organisers should take the issue of remote more seriously again. Remote certainly doesn't solve everything, but it can make the lives of many disabled persons - and many others for that matter - much easier. There is so much talk about New Work. But this should not be limited to fancy - not accessible - coffee machines or spacy office designs.

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