When I write about my workshifting lifestyle, there are so many strands to discuss. I, like all other workshifters, have multiple reasons for pursuing remote work, including a checklist of needs for it to run smoothly. When you are disabled, using a cool electric wheelchair and requiring full-time care assistance along with a raft of other requirements, things get a whole lot more complicated. To illustrate this, I want to share with you my recent workshifting trip from my hometown of London to New York City.
I run a blog, an online disability magazine, disability webinars and soon disability e-courses. My business is all online, which has allowed me to enhance my health, lifestyle and creativity. Does this sound familiar to you?
New York City has been somewhere I wanted to return to since I visited at the age of 9 in 1993. However, I’ve not been able to due to my old job and other planned vacations. But then 2 friends suggested we could go at the end of September. At first I had concerns about money and work obligations – then it dawned on me that the trip would create amazing content (inspirational and informational) for my community. Also, because my work is online, I could still honor my responsibilities, such as running a webinar on employing personal care assistants, while enjoying this amazing city.
As you can imagine, travel is quite complex when you have a physical disability. I had to arrange for someone who would travel with me and assist with my personal care and other daily tasks I cannot do alone. I had to notify the airline about my wheelchair, ensure the hotel was accessible (no steps to the building or the shower!) and rent equipment (such as a hoist/patient lift). Transport was another barrier, and multiple online resources were utilized to ensure we could get around the city. You can watch a short video of how this all went here.
I cannot arch my back or neck due to the titanium rods on my spine holding me upright. This means I cannot use my laptop on my lap, only on a desk or table. In terms of accessing my work, I just need a good Internet connection. Many of the cafés offered free Wi-Fi, and their buildings had good access for wheelchairs. Sometimes I had difficulty parking my wheelchair in a comfortable position (for example, when I cannot get my knees underneath a table, it makes typing very difficult because of the reach required). I also used my smartphone a lot for emails, Twitter and Facebook. Overall, I was able to easily accomplish the day-to-day work tasks.
On one afternoon of our trip, I had to run a scheduled webinar. The hotel room provided Wi-Fi (although this did cost $15 for 24 hours) and quiet surroundings. I had prepared my presentation before flying, so everything was in hand. The only snag was that the Wi-Fi kept dropping when a new webpage was accessed. Fortunately, GoToWebinar worked like a dream and the connection behaved. It was the best webinar yet. On the theme of disabled people living independently, I co-presented with my 2 disabled mates, giving the attendees 3 hosts for the price of 1 live from New York City. Attendees came from Canada, Australia and the UK.
Imagine learning how to improve your life from someone in the same situation, but while they are living their own dreams. Everything really is possible guys!
In my next post, I will explain the progress in providing access to public buildings along with the need for employers to recognize the potential of workshifting for disabled workers. With some investment, innovation and flexibility, disabled people can add great value to society and the economy.
Photo Credit: musicamang