It can be scary even thinking about broaching the subject of your health to your line manager. You may worry that they won’t be understanding and will use it against you. Thankfully there are laws in place to protect those with disabilities. You may think they will treat you differently if they find out. You will only know if you take the plunge and speak to them.
I find it daunting each time I have a new line manager but I make myself speak up. I find explaining a good day vs a bad day helps them understand you better, that you can fulfil your role most of the time but there will be bad days where you cannot do as much.
Line managers should ensure they have made reasonable adjustments so that you can continue to work. This could be anything from allowing working from home when needed, extra sick days, to referral to occupational health.
A referral can sound worrying but it is merely to help the workplace learn what they can do to help you. For example they could let your line manager they need to provide a different desk or mouse to ease pain. They may also recommend equipment that helps with a range of things such as speech to text software. They are not there to judge you, but they are there to help ensure you can continue in your role and do their best to prevent flare ups.
I find the more I open up about my health, the more understanding people are, and they can then gauge when I’m having a good day or a bad day. I can still do my job and I’m very lucky I am in that position. I used to stay silent and I found when I flared I would grin and bear it, which would make my flare worsen until I was bed bound. Now by being honest with myself and others I can better manage my symptoms and rest when I need to, rather than when it’s too late. It also enables me to do more in my work as a result.
Some of the things I have found helpful at work:
- Ergonomic mouse – allows better grip and wrist is in a natural position which reduces strain
- Pen grips – make it easier to grip a pen, less finger pain
- Ability to work from home, without having to go into detail about what’s wrong
- Having adjustments to the way I call in sick, by being able to WhatsApp or email instead
- Getting every task emailed to me so that I can keep better track on remembering what I need to do
- Sit-stand desk can be useful if you find sitting for long periods of time difficult. Alternatively taking regular screen breaks and walking around
- Make sure to take your full break away from the office. I enjoy going for a walk at lunch energises me