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Tag: remote work

How To Succeed Professionally With a Chronic Health Condition

A full-time job can be demanding, even more so if you have a chronic health condition. Nearly half of all American adults have a chronic health condition, which is defined as a physical or mental condition that lasts more than a year, causes some restrictions in their ability to function, or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment.1

Medical visits, hospitalizations, and illness flare-ups all add up in terms of lost income and time off work. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 75% of all healthcare spending in the U.S. goes toward treating chronic diseases. This translates to an estimated $5,300 per person per year.

When you have a full-time job and a chronic medical condition, you have to balance the needs of your job with the needs of your health. Working too much can worsen your chronic disease, but taking too much time off can affect your employability. This is especially true for people who have less-visible chronic health conditions. However, there are several steps you can take to foster professional success while protecting your health.

Make Time for Self-care

Self-care takes time, but the adage is true: You cannot care for other people if you don’t take care of yourself. Self-care is an essential part of managing your chronic disease. Time spent caring for yourself will result in less time off work and being better prepared to achieve high job performance levels.

Self-care components include:2

  • Nutrition: buying, preparing, and consuming a nutritious, whole-food diet. Avoid processed foods and consume healthy sources of protein and fat.
  • Stress management: making time for hobbies, exercise, and activities you enjoy to reduce stress.
  • Social habits: spending time with family and loved ones reduces stress and improves your quality of life.
  • Sleep: practice good sleep hygiene and get 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night.
  • Exercise: depending on your health condition, aim for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
  • Set goals: set personal and work-related goals and track your progress toward achieving them.
  • Build a team: health professionals, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, physical therapists, friends, neighbors, and relatives are all potential team members to help support your efforts to manage your chronic disease.
  • Healthcare: keep your appointments, get lab work done, and take all prescribed medications. Take care of your mental and emotional health as well.

Taking time for self-care and balancing home life, work needs, and your health can be even more challenging if you have your own business. Read 6 science-backed self-care tips for entrepreneurs to learn how to better manage work, family, and health demands.

Work Remotely When You Can 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work was uncommon and hard to get. Necessity is the mother of invention. Employers in all sectors showed that remote work is possible in more ways than anyone could have imagined. Working remotely frees you from demands that may drain your energy.

Commuting can be a challenge for anyone, especially people with mobility issues. Remote work opens more career possibilities for people with disabilities, allowing them to work in a comfortable environment that reduces stress and anxiety.

Working remotely can increase productivity without increasing work hours. Whether it is workplace dramas or unnecessary distractions, working remotely gives you more control over your work environment.

Remote work can offer a more flexible schedule, which makes it easier for people to work when they have the most energy and to make medical appointments. Setting a schedule based on an individual’s productivity levels instead of when an office is open can also mean greater productivity for the business. Of course, this is not always possible, especially in service-oriented industries.

Whether your chronic health condition affects your immune system, is affected by stress levels, makes it difficult to be mobile, or causes increased fatigue, remote work may make it easier to work.

Monitor Your Health With Wearable Devices 

In many ways, healthcare for managing chronic diseases is coming out of the medical setting and entering homes. Wearable devices may improve the quality of life for people with chronic diseases as they collect health metrics anytime and from anywhere. Devices are now available to measure oxygen saturation, temperature, exercise, blood sugar, blood pressure, and much more. This makes it much easier to notice trends and catch changes in our health earlier. It also gives you feedback on how self-care is impacting your overall health.

Remote patient monitoring is a more formal monitoring system. Apnea, heart rate and variability, oxygen saturation, positional trackers, and blood pressure monitors can send a constant data stream to your healthcare provider. Artificial intelligence can evaluate large amounts of data and organize it. Patient monitoring that previously would have required an extended hospital or rehabilitation center stay can now be done from home.

Take Advantage of Telehealth Services

Using a telehealth service, you can schedule appointments or even see a medical provider on the same day, all from the comfort of your home or office. This saves time and money. Besides the worry of taking time off work and setting appointments based on a provider’s schedule, people with chronic diseases also risk catching an illness while at their medical appointment that could lead to extended time off work. A remote doctor’s visit may be the safest and most convenient option for everyone, but especially for people with chronic health conditions.

See a doctor online and experience the benefits of telemedicine. Once you do, you will probably want to receive as much of your healthcare online as possible. It is so much easier to integrate telehealth into your healthcare routine than it was in the past. Your online doctor can diagnose most medical conditions safely and securely via a phone or video call. If you need a prescription, they can transmit it electronically to your pharmacy. It can then be delivered to your home or picked up at your local pharmacy.

If you are interested in telehealth but have questions or are unsure how to start the process, Telegra MD has resources and answers to your questions.

Discuss Your Condition with Your Employer

Disclosing your chronic medical condition to your employer can be stressful. You don’t need to tell anyone about your health unless you want to, but if you need accommodations or your health condition affects your job performance, you may need to disclose at least some information to your supervisor and ultimately to human resources if you need more frequent breaks or a different work schedule. Be straightforward and disclose details about your chronic health condition only to people who need to know them.

Prepare for this conversation by knowing your rights and what accommodations you need. Focus the conversation on the accommodations you need to be as productive as possible at work. Be as specific as you can and only share as much information as you need to help your employer understand how your chronic health condition affects your ability to work in the job environment.

Delegate Tasks When Possible 

If possible, delegate tasks inside the home and workplace to prevent burnout and make it easier for you to focus your energy on more important tasks.

It can be hard to ask for help. Start with your manager or supervisor. Discuss your current limitations and ask for help in identifying tasks that can be delegated to others. Prioritize your tasks. Pass the less critical ones to others so you can focus your energies on the more important tasks. Cross-train in your department to make it easier for people to cover for each other. This will also normalize the idea that people need to help each other.

It is important to strike a balance between protecting your health and meeting your job responsibilities. Delegating tasks can reduce stress and help you manage your workload, leaving more time for self-care.

Establish Clear Boundaries

Set clear boundaries about what you can and cannot do. Establish the importance of keeping your medical appointments early on. Give as much notice as you can about upcoming appointments, but make it clear that your top priority is to keep them. 

Be clear and consistent when discussing your workload expectations, working hours, and roles. Be consistent in enforcing these boundaries. Set realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do and stick to them.

Be Aware of Your Rights

Finally, it is important to see if your chronic health condition qualifies as a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not provide a list of disabilities. It defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life areas, has a history or record of such an impairment, or is perceived as having such an impairment.

ADA is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against anyone based on disability. The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. Learn more about these workplace requirements at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance for employers.

Telehealth services, remote monitoring, and remote work may make it much easier to overcome some obstacles people with chronic health conditions face as they balance the demands of their job with protecting their health.

References:

  1. Raghupathi W, Raghupathi V. An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Visual Analytics Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Mar 1;15(3):431. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15030431. PMID: 29494555; PMCID: PMC5876976.
  2. Tulu SN, Cook P, Oman KS, Meek P, Kebede Gudina E. Chronic disease self-care: A concept analysis. Nurs Forum. 2021 Jul;56(3):734-741. doi: 10.1111/nuf.12577. Epub 2021 May 3. PMID: 33938572.

Why the Trend Toward Digitalization Is a Great Equalizer

Digitalization, or the use of digital technology and information to transform business operations1, has the potential to level the playing field for individuals and businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. It provides more equal access to education, remote work, and healthcare, and allows small businesses to compete with larger businesses by reaching customers and talented workers across the globe. 

However, inclusiveness is not guaranteed without significant improvements in digital education and training. The job market is shifting toward one that increasingly requires digital skills.

Digitalization is happening in nearly every industry. According to Brookings, the number of occupations that meet the criteria for high digital content has tripled to 23% of employment. More than 32 million workers have jobs that require high digital skills, 66 million have jobs that require moderate digital skills, and 41 million have jobs that require low digital skills. 

While the wave of digitalization raises concerns about job replacement and automation, it also offers several advantages for society that have the potential to lessen inequality.

The Problem of Inequality 

Inequality is a widespread issue that affects many demographic groups. Income and wealth inequalities are broadly classified as inequality of opportunity and inequality of outcome. 

  • Inequality of opportunity is the unequal distribution of and access to chances to succeed, no matter who you are or where you come from. Examples include access to education, healthcare, job opportunities, mentoring, and other resources that are necessary for career success. 
  • Inequality of outcome refers to the unequal distribution of outcomes, such as income, wealth, and other measures of success.2 While income inequality between countries is improving, income inequality within countries is getting worse.3

Inequality is a widespread problem with many examples, but far fewer solutions. Examples include:3,4,5 

  • Gender and racial pay gaps
  • Racial and disability-based discrimination in the labor market
  • Racial gaps in access to education
  • Racial gaps in access to healthcare
  • Disproportionate representation in the criminal justice system
  • Occupational sex segregation
  • Lack of legal rights

How Is Digitalization Leveling the Playing Field for Disadvantaged Groups? 

Digitalization has the potential to reduce inequalities by providing greater access to information, markets, education, and services for everyone, regardless of their physical location or socioeconomic status.

Educational Technology   

Educational technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and for the most part, the changes have benefited employees and students. There was a time when voice-over PowerPoint was considered innovative. As the COVID-19 pandemic made remote learning the education standard, technologies improved at a rapid pace.

Teachers today have a wide range of technologies available to engage students.

  • Augmented and virtual reality make learning more interactive. Personification and gaming allow learners to step into multiple roles and perspectives by creating real-world simulations. Students can explore history and science in a more engaging way. 
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) provides almost instant answers to questions. It makes individualized learning in the classroom possible. Students can explore topics tailored to their interests. For example, AI can be used to develop personalized assignments that allow students to learn at their own pace. AI technology can help academically disadvantaged students catch up with their peers. It can also provide real-time feedback and allow students to self-assess their progress.
  • Wireless technology and access to the internet enable students and parents to choose whether classroom or online education better meets their needs. Students can collaborate with their peers across the globe, learning about cultures and languages from the comfort of their homes or schools. 
  • Technology to increase accessibility makes it easier for students with low vision to use the internet, enables students with mobility issues to more easily attend classes, and helps students with speech and language disabilities communicate with their peers.

Financial Technology

Financial technology, or FinTech, can improve access and affordability, potentially reducing inequality.

  • In areas of the world where gender inequality is high, technology provides flexibility for women to earn an income while managing a household.6
  • Mobile banking improves access to banks and other financial institutions, especially for low-income or rural populations. 
  • When determining loan eligibility, insurance costs, and other decisions that are more subjective, AI and algorithms can be used to make decisions more effectively and objectively. However, they may also inherit the biases of their creators.7
  • Digital technologies can reduce costs and complexity, making access easier. 
  • AI and other technologies can help increase financial literacy. They can provide financial management advice that is far more affordable than traditional in-person advisory services.
  • Technology can improve pricing transparency and highlight the risks and advantages of financial services, making it simpler for customers to understand and compare costs, terms, and conditions, as well as compare goods and services. 

Telehealth 

Telehealth offers easier and more affordable access to healthcare by using telecommunications technology to transmit medical data and information. Telemedicine is a subcategory of telehealth and refers to a patient-doctor consultation that is used to diagnose and treat medical conditions using remote technologies. 

Telehealth makes healthcare more accessible and affordable for individuals and families living with mobility issues or in low-income or rural communities to receive healthcare services and address their medical needs without the need to travel. Virtual appointments can reduce burdens on low-income patients as they reduce lost wages and childcare costs for families that do not receive work-related benefits.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, almost 30% of people who took the survey had to travel more than 25 miles to get care related to their transition, and 15% had to travel more than 50 miles. Virtual appointments make it easier to access specialists and culturally competent providers. 

Using telemedicine, you meet with a doctor online. Telemedicine online clinics can provide: 

  • Virtual consultations with a doctor: Online telemedicine visits enable you to consult with a licensed doctor from the comfort of your own home. In many cases, telemedicine clinics provide both scheduled and on-demand appointments.
  • Diagnostic services: With the help of cameras, virtual appointments, and laboratory tests, many medical conditions can be diagnosed online. Of course, some limitations exist to what services can be provided remotely. Most telemedicine clinics provide a list of conditions they treat on their websites. 
  • Online prescriptions: Most telemedicine providers will issue prescriptions in much the same way that a local doctor would. The prescription can be electronically transmitted to a pharmacy for processing and delivery to your home or a local pharmacy to be filled. 

Everyone can benefit from the convenience, safety, and cost savings telehealth offers. However, people who live in rural areas and have limited access to primary and preventative care, people with limited access to transportation, or people who lack good insurance benefits typically find that telehealth provides them with better healthcare options at a lower cost.

Remote Work   

According to recent Gallup polls, 45% of full-time U.S. employees work from home. About half divide their time between their home and office, and the other half work entirely from home.8 

Internet access and other technologies help people work effectively from home, which expands the employment options available for people with disabilities or who live in locations where access to well-paying jobs is limited. 

Remote work has many advantages, including: 

  • Saving time and money by not commuting
  • Job flexibility which may improve work-life balance
  • Cost savings for employers
  • Higher efficiency with fewer interruptions throughout the workday
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Better employee morale and work performance 

Professional Networking

Digitalization has given rise to new ways of connecting with others. Facebook and LinkedIn are good examples of networking channels that expand job opportunities, especially for people living in more remote areas. Occupational sex segregation and discrimination in the job market can be lessened if everyone has more equal access to communication platforms and salaries and benefits are more openly shared.  

How Is Technology Challenging Equality?  

While digitalization has its benefits, it also has the potential to increase the digital divide. Access to telehealth, online education, finances, and remote work requires access to the internet and technological literacy. People who live in rural areas, identify as racial or ethnic minorities, or have low incomes are more likely to have trouble accessing telehealth and other online technologies. Older adults and people with limited health literacy and English proficiency are also at a disadvantage.9  

Automation

Technology is likely to open up new career options, but these will require a medium-to-high level of technical skills. As robotics and AI have improved, more types of jobs are now at risk of being done by machines. Writers, teachers, computer programmers, paralegals, customer service representatives, and instructional designers all see the possibility of being replaced by AI. 

Automation is a threat to equality. It increases the possibility of job displacement, especially for low-skilled workers who are unable to qualify for careers requiring computer science and technical skills. Fast-food workers, translators, personal financial advisors, surgeons, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and laborers are examples of workers at risk for job displacement.10

Automation can also make certain skills and jobs less valuable, which results in a decrease in the demand for these skills and a decrease in wages for people who have them. 

Misinformation  

Digitalization provides better access to information, but it has also enabled the spread of misinformation. The damage that false or misleading information can cause was demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology can also be used to amplify the voices of people who wish to perpetuate disinformation, bias, and discriminatory beliefs.

Technology is a tool, and, like all tools, it can be used for benefit or harm. While technology can provide marginalized populations with better access to information, it can also increase the digital divide, widening the income and wealth gap between those with technological literacy and access to the internet and those without. 

References

  1. Digitization, digitalization, digital and transformation: the differences. i-SCOOP. Published February 2, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.i-scoop.eu/digital-transformation/digitization-digitalization-digital-transformation-disruption/
  2. Lefranc, A., Pistolesi, N. and Trannoy, A. (2008), Inequality Of Opportunities Vs. Inequality Of Outcomes: Are Western Societies All Alike?. Review of Income and Wealth, 54: 513-546. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4991.2008.00289.x
  3. United Nations. Inequality – Bridging the Divide | United Nations. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.un.org/en/un75/inequality-bridging-divide
  4. 20 facts about U.s. inequality that everyone should know – Stanford center on poverty and inequality. Stanford.edu. Accessed January 25, 2023.
  5. Schaeffer K. 6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S. Pew Research Center. Published February 7, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/07/6-facts-about-economic-inequality-in-the-u-s/
  6. Madgavkar A, Ellingrud K, Krishnan M. How can digital technology speed up gender equality? Mckinsey.com. Published August 14, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.mckinsey.com
  7. Fintech Futures. Can financial technology help reduce inequality? FinTech Futures. Published October 2, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.fintechfutures.com/2020/10/can-financial-technology-help-reduce-inequality/
  8. Saad L, Wigert B. Remote Work Persisting and Trending Permanent. Gallup. Published October 13, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://news.gallup.com/poll/355907/remote-work-persisting-trending-permanent.aspx
  9. Nouri S, Khoong E, Lyles C, Karliner L. (2020). Addressing Equity in Telemedicine for Chronic Disease Management During the Covid-19 Pandemic. NEJM catalyst. Accessed January 25, 2012. https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.20.0123
  10. Handel, Michael J. Growth trends for selected occupations considered at risk from automation. Bls.gov. Published July 13, 2022. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2022/article/growth-trends-for-selected-occupations-considered-at-risk-from-automation.htm