I’m an MSer. And I’m disabled. And I still work a full-time job. From home. Curious?
As Y2K started, although I was experiencing what I thought would be a temporary problem with one hand, I had just graduated college with a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. I felt like a right and proper grown-up!
But by Nov. 2002, the pharmaceutical company I had been working for was suddenly acquired by another company. They decided they didn’t need two librarians, so they laid me off and offered me severance pay until the end of the year.
I went to have a drink with a friend from grad school who worked at a legal start-up. Knowing about my MS, she wanted to help but also thought her small company could use me. So she urged me to talk to one of the founders. I had some experience in that field, so he offered me a job on the spot!
In the beginning HR was already aware of my MS so I never had to decide to disclose. I did a little research, and wrote a few articles. Soon I began taking on more responsibility for the structure of the site in what would become an extensive web portal of free information to explain law to lay-people.
Company Gets Bigger
Our company kept growing. I continued to go to HR every few years, after a doctor’s appointment, or when I had an allergic reaction to a new med, for example, to keep them apprised. I was always concerned when there was a staff turn-over that everyone was aware of my situation. I also began to work from home one day a week.
We had always provided a website with tons of free articles that explain legalese. But we now also help solo- and small law firms be more efficient, help them create websites, and provide advice about social media and marketing their services.
At one point I took over the user support “queues” that before had been farmed out to individual employees, each queue owned by a different employee, responsible for checking and replying to users. A thankless task not loved by anyone. But by offering to consolidate and take the whole thing over, I think I elevated my role in the organization.
In 2007 I started having trouble driving. So I asked for “reasonable accommodation” and transitioned to working from home full-time. It didn’t hurt that my new supervisor was stationed in Florida then. I keep regular work hours and call-in to attend all-hands meetings, for example.
Currently I act as the entire consumer service team, not to be confused with the (paying) customer service team. Since I am one of the longest-lasting original employees, I am very familiar with, and can thus quickly find, where something is that a user wants.
The situation works well for me. I work very well alone, but also am a team player when needed. Of course as history has shown, change happens. But I do feel comfortable with my employment for now. And this is just one example of how to do this.
Editor’s note: some of this has appeared in print before.