Along with the rest of the world, South Africa is currently in lockdown. By restricting the movement of people, the government hopes to slow the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 and give the healthcare service a fighting chance. This also has brought the economy to a screeching halt, which has already impacted businesses and individuals.
It is safe to say that society won’t look the same again. But change can be good. Here are the few good things to take from the South African lockdown.
Promoting remote work
Working remotely or from home is not a new concept. It is, for example, very popular in China with numerous studies on its benefits, including improved productivity and better employee wellness. Despite the benefits, few businesses in South Africa have embraced it. At least until the lockdown forced employers to accommodate remote work.
It should be noted that a global pandemic and national lockdown is not the ideal time to trial remote work. Employees might struggle to balance home and work life with a full house or just struggle with the anxiety and isolation. Regardless, it is an opportunity to show how – with the right technology – employees can be just as (if not more) productive at home as in a workplace.
Whether permanent or on occasion, remote work offers many benefits for people with disabilities. First, there is less or no travel involved, which benefits those who don’t have access to accessible transport. Second, the work environment is accessible to the employee. This also benefits businesses that are unable to meet the universal accessible design requirements.
Last, it can help protect people with disabilities from illnesses. Many people with disabilities might have compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to viruses or bacteria. Whether it is a flu or a reoccurring bladder infection, working from home ensure people with disabilities are less likely to fall ill.
Better access to schooling
Globally, universities and schools are hosting classes online successfully through programmes like Zoom to continue education during lockdown. Hopefully, these systems will remain available to accommodate students who might be unable to physically attend a class.
More empathy for the challenges facing people with disabilities
As a marginalised group in society, people with disabilities often feel isolated from their community, friend and family. With the entire country now in forced isolation, there is hope that society will have more compassion for the challenges facing people with disabilities and do more to include them – starting with implementing universal design.
What are some of the changes you hope to see in South Africa post lockdown? Leave a comment below or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.