As many employers look to continue remote e-working arrangements it is important to recognise that this may be ideal for some but not all. What adjustments can be made to ensure both productivity and wellbeing as part of this transition?

This project aimed to fill a gap in understanding the impact of remote e-working for Disabled and Neurodivergent Workers (DNW*). This group of workers, 20% of the working population, might be overlooked by employers, therefore becoming invisible and unable to work in a way that best supports their needs and capabilities.

Through interviews with DNW, employers, and other stakeholders this project begins to fill a gap in the academic understanding of the experiences facing disabled and neurodivergent people at work.

*This is a UK based term, other terms are used in different contexts and internationally.

Research questions

  1. What is the current state of academic knowledge about remote working and Disabled and Neurodivergent Workers (DNW)?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of remote working for DNW, across public and private sectors?
  3. What are employers doing to facilitate inclusivity and visibility for DNW, who are remote working?
  4. What are the emerging issues for DNW in public and private sector settings, to remote working, and what are the key next steps to increasing inclusivity and visibility?

Method

  • Rapid literature review
  • Semi-structured interviews with 24 DNW, 5 employers and 8 stakeholders

Key findings

The literature review reveals that there is a substantial gap in the academic knowledge on DNW’s experiences of remote e-working. Existing, limited, research is mostly focused on physical disabilities, overlooking other disabilities and neurodiversity.

Key findings emerging from our semi-structured interviews suggest:

  • There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution; employers should listen to and understand people’s individual needs to make remote working accessible and optimal for everyone.
  • Line Managers need training and support to effectively promote inclusiveness.
  • Overarching remote working policies should be inclusive for all, providing a framework for reasonable adjustments to be well understood and agreed.
  • In developing inclusive policies, employers should focus on optimising access and accessibility and usability of technology.

Research outputs

Response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee inquiryDisability employment
Christine Grant, Carlo Tramontano, Maria Charalampous, Emma Russell and Deborah Leveroy (2024)

Response to the House of Lords Public Services Committee inquiryThe transition from education to employment for young disabled people
Christine Grant, Carlo Tramontano, Maria Charalampous, Emma Russell, Deborah Leveroy (2024)

Disability, neurodivergence and remote working: what employers need to know…
Dr Christine Grant and colleagues outline four steps employers can take to develop truly inclusive remote working practices.

Remote for All: Time to Include People with Disability and/or Neurodiversity in the Remote Working Discussion
Remote working seems to offer a means to increase inclusion for workers with neurodiversity and/or disability, however, employers, line managers and colleagues may lack awareness, knowledge and understanding of the reasonable adjustments that are needed.

Digit research on neurodiversity and remote working presented to Parliament
3 May 2024
The research project, Remote for All, was supported by the Digit Innovation Fund and explored the impact of remote e-working for Disabled and/or Neurodivergent workers.

Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology cites Digit-funded research
16 January 2023
Research into the remote e-working experiences of Disabled and Neurodivergent Workers, supported by Digit’s Innovation Fund, has been cited in a new briefing from the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.

Researchers

Principal investigator: Christine Grant (Coventry University)

Co-investigators: Carlo Tramontano (Coventry University), Maria Charalampous (Independent researcher), Carl Clarke (Vodafone)

Digit member: Emma Russell (University of Sussex Business School)