Re: Work from home

People have asked about my work situation recently.  So here’s my story:

I was hired by my current company in January 2003.  They were acquired by what is now known as The Thomson Reuters Corporation and the Human Resource department is in Eagan, MN.

I have always been up-front about my disease, so when my fatigue started becoming an issue in October 2005, I asked my HR department if they could make some “reasonable accommodation” for my multiple sclerosis.  This is in accordance to the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted in 1990 (see the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Disability Resources).

My suggestion was that they allow me to telecommute to the office on Fridays, as the drive was about 40 miles each way.  This would eliminate one of those trips a week.  In my company there had been very little official precedence for working at home, but now I wanted it officially noted on my record in case I needed more accommodation going forward.  

Granted, my work was largely on the computer and thus able to be easily accomplished just as well at home. So HR readily agreed but asked me to get a doctor’s note attesting to my condition and send it to them in MN.  My doctor promptly complied and I began to work at home on Fridays.

In March 2007, I began to have vision problems which led to my concerns about driving at all.  I decided to go back to my doctor and again have him write a very generic letter asking the company to continue to provide me “reasonable accommodation” and thanking them for their continued support of me.  I made photocopies for each of my immediate supervisors and forwarded the letter to HR.

Then I explained my situation at work, told them that I would now be working at home full-time but still getting email, and also made sure they had my phone number at home.  I had a VPN (virtual private network) account set up so I am able to do work behind our company’s firewall and got a headset for my cordless phone so I don’t have to hold it when working.

In the beginning there were lots of calls to me at home while everyone got used to the situation.  But little by little everyone has and it works great for me.  I work with a group of people, so we have weekly team meetings in a conference room where I participate on a speaker phone, and also we all have weekly one-on-ones with our team leader; I do mine by phone.

Because I don’t expend my limited energy on my commute, I am able to work from home full-time.  But also because I am home, I can easily take a lunchtime nap in my own bed if I need to. I feel very fortunate.

Finally, I have had no experience applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI benefits yet, but he has now been receiving it since June 2006 and can help me if/when I need it. 

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