Project 8. Telework: Work from home as rising, universal accommodation

  • In the current COVID pandemic, the majority of states have shut down “non-essential” businesses, and urged employers to have employees work at home to the extent possible.
  • Prior research shows that people with disabilities are more likely than those without disabilities to work from home (Schur et al. 2013: 54-57), reflecting in part the difficulties in commuting faced by people with mobility impairments, the need to take breaks for medical purposes or the need to stay close to medical equipment at home.
  • The sudden broad increase in working from home spurred by the COVID-19 crisis may inspire a) increased innovation in how standard job tasks can be done at home, b) increased employer acceptance of work-at-home arrangements, and c) increased employee interest in work-at-home arrangements.
  • This project will use the 2020 COVID-19 crisis as a natural experiment in examining the importance and effects of home-based work for workers with disabilities.
  • We will examine the rate of home-based work by disability status, doing comparisons to pre-2020 outcomes on these measures.
  • We will also examine whether these arrangements continue in 2021 when the crisis will (hopefully) be over, indicating whether the COVID-19 crisis created only a short-lived change in working arrangements or created a more long-lasting change in the structure of work.
  • In addition to using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Department of Labor’s American Time Use Survey to estimate these effects, we will also conduct a survey of teleworkers with and without disabilities in large companies in the Disability:IN network to identity the rate of home-based work before and after the crisis.
  • We will also explore the effects of telecommuting on work-family boundaries, workload and responsibilities, and job satisfaction.