Does old tech limit workplace opportunities?

Pre-pandemic, according to research, almost four fifths of UK disabled workers whose job involved using or handling information thought that outdated technology limited work opportunities for people with disabilities.

And yet, the technology that should enable businesses to employ a person with a disability to use and handle information exists.

The research aimed to explore whether this technology was increasing employment opportunities for individuals and thus creating more workforce potential for UK organisations.

The results suggested that over four fifths of IT departments in UK businesses had a specific role and budget to support workforce diversification, while the majority of CIOs or IT department leads discussed facilitating disability inclusion through technology. However, there seemed to be a mismatch between the preparations that businesses made and what employees actually need.

Almost a quarter of disabled workers who use and handle information thought that the impact of new technology on employees with disabilities wasn’t considered ever, while around two fifths thought that it was considered sometimes. And yet, over three fifths of disabled workers who use and handle information felt that employers had been flexible in implementing technology that helps them do their job such as assistive tech or IT which allows for flexible working.

Nevertheless, over seventy per cent of disabled workers who use, and handle information felt that businesses are not set up with the right technology to enable them to work in their most suitable way – though the pandemic has made technology that enables more flexible and remote working more mainstream and changed many companies’ attitudes to presenteeism.

As flexible working is becoming more accepted and even encouraged, there is an opportunity to create a working environment and culture to enable a genuinely diverse workforce.