Sorry, boss. I can’t guarantee that I’ll always feel my best from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m
Some days are better than others.
But you know as well as I do that I have exactly what it takes to get you the quality work you’re looking for, completed on time. The reality is: even though I have a chronic progressive disease, I still am fully capable of working a full-time job as a writer and editor.
But these 40 hours each week are only possible on my time—when multiple sclerosis (MS) isn’t wearing me down physically or making my hands too numb to type.
That’s why working remotely is an effective option for me, and for the countless other qualified employees living with conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Here are five ways producing on our time rather than punching the clock can wind up working exceedingly well for those of us with chronic conditions:
1. We’re solid employees with reps to protect.
Do we have a chip on our shoulders? Perhaps, but it’s not directed at our jobs. It’s all about the unwelcomed disease that just showed up in our lives. Uninvited.
So when it comes to the workplace, we’re in it to win it. We’ve already proven that we are solid employees by building impressive track records, leading high visibility projects, or supporting major companywide efforts. That’s evident on our LinkedIn profiles or our printed resumes. Life is beyond how we look on paper, though. Now that we’re living with these chronic illnesses, we are continually engaged in internal competitions to always have the final word.
MS won’t stop me, and I’m out to prove it. Every single day.
2. Working remotely on our time improves productivity.
People living with chronic conditions are some of the most productive workers—when they’re working on their time. They can give employers at least eight solid hours of each day, just not always in the sense of a traditional workday.
I have excessive levels of fatigue that come and go for no reason; it’s one of the common symptoms of MS. I can be on fire from 7 a.m. to noon. Then I need a three-hour break, will work for another hour, and then stop working until 8 p.m. I’ll “punch out” at 10 p.m. and know I put in a solid day’s work for my employer when it worked best for me.
And because I know my energy resources are finite, I give my work all I have when it’s available. Denying all distractions and being completely committed to workplace productivity have helped me throughout my remote career.
3. We appreciate the company’s time because it appreciates ours.
It says a lot to an employee when the company opens the door to flexible work options. It means even more to those of us who are living with chronic conditions.
This opportunity shows each of us that our voice was heard. Our employer believes we have a lot to offer, understands what we are living with, trusts us implicitly to get the job done well, and respects our time and how we govern it.
In grateful appreciation, we respectfully return the favor by ensuring that our time is well budgeted and well spent.
4. We have control over workplace drama.
Has a doctor ever told you that you were diagnosed with a chronic disease for which there is no cure? And then you’ve had to spend your entire life thereafter learning how to stay one step ahead of a disease that the smartest researchers and all the money in the world can’t figure out?
With the outlook gained from dealing with these kinds of situations, “putting the little things into perspective” becomes an understatement. It’s easy to see why employees with chronic conditions are unmoved by workplace drama.
5. Working remotely frees us from unnecessary distractions.
Yes, I have had MS for more than 18 years and have it somewhat under control. But excessive stress levels irritate my symptoms, such as numbness in my hands and feet, so it always helps to avoid things that break my concentration.
Thankfully, working remotely blocks me from common office distractions. You know, things like phone calls from telemarketers trying to sell the company an SEO service for our website (and that’s not even my department!) or coworkers stopping by my office to ask for a spare K-Cup, which then leads to a 22-minute rant about problems they’re having with their neighbors.
Each interruption impedes productivity, slowing my process, adding to my stress level, and subsequently irritating my MS symptoms, which adds to my stress level…do you see where I’m going here? And this is just one chronic condition.
As you can see, today’s cohort of remote professionals includes those who thrive outside of a traditional office setting—not only because of their working style or preferences, but also for medical reasons.
Employers deserve to have access to the broadest talent pool possible, and all of us workers deserve a fair shake at the job of our dreams despite any personal challenges. And this is why working remotely helps all parties involved.
Dan Digmann is a freelance writer who serves as the digital storyteller for Founders Marketing. He has nearly 25 years of professional writing and marketing experience and maintains an award-winning blog with his wife, Jennifer. Follow him on Twitter @danjendig to see how to live and work in spite of having a chronic illness.
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