Accessibility, Inclusion and The Four Day Work Week by Calvin Eaton

women sitting at a desk in front of a laptop

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Accessibility, Inclusion and The Four Day Work Week

So often in our ableist culture; accessibility and inclusion are discussed as separate initiatives and this separation inhibits the cultural change that is necessary to drive policy and systems change that make all areas of live truly accessible for inclusive of everyone.

One of my commitments in this new year and beyond is to be intentional and mindful in how I think about and frame inclusion in all parts of my life and work.  For me this means asking questions like:

  • Who in the community am I building relationships with?
  • Do I care only about social issues that directly impact me personally?
  • Do they look differently than me? Do they think in different ways than I do? Do they come from a different socioeconomic background than me?
  • Can I slow down planning and invite people to my planning tables that I have never worked with before?
  • Who am I following on social media?

This intentionality takes practice and most importantly time but has really opened up my perspective on what else inclusion and accessibility involve and for some time now the idea of a four day week has keep popping in my mind.

 Accessibility + Burnout

As someone living with an invisible disability, the ability to work remotely, flex my time and work in a very non-traditional way were major factors in my decision to become an entrepreneur. After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia I struggled working in any traditional nine to five setting and it became increasingly apparent that most employers and institutions were unwilling or ill-equipped (usually both) to support folks that are living with a disability. This unwillingness to modify and accommodate those of us that are differently-abled significantly limits the careers and jobs that are available to folks like me and creates a “false” shortage of extremely qualified employees. What’s worse is that this mindset and practice has created a culture in the U.S. that has exacerbated “burn”out which is now an official medical condition.

According to The American Institute of Stress; burnout is defined as

“A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”

It is characterized by three dimensions 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. It is no secret that many employees are overworked, underpaid, and generally unhappy in many nine to five sector jobs. This coupled with jobs that force everyone to come in every day (even when work can be done remotely), work when they are sick, and give little to no paid family leave or paid time off all create environments with high turnover and burn-out.

This culture of burnout could perhaps be curtailed or at the least addressed if more employers thought outside the box and reconsidered who makes a quality employee for their organization and what that work looks like. One step further is asking does every employee need to do their work in five/eight hour days?

I posited many of these thoughts on social media and created dynamic dialogue that will now be shared this week on 540Blog.  I posited quite simply:

Have you ever worked a four day work work? If so did what were the challenges and benefits?

I am happy to share to share the dynamic and diverse perspectives of Kristin Reisch, Filomena Jack, and regular contributor Chris Thompson all who’ve worked four hour work weeks.  This conversation promotes out the box thinking that when aggregated collectively moves each of us to examine our own biases and hopefully drives cultural conversations that promote systems and policy change.

About Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a community educator, digital content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, inclusion, equity, curriculum writing, and higher education.

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Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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