A lot of folks are temporarily working from home nowadays. I don’t know how you can all manage that.
Not the working from home part. The temporary part.
I don’t see how people manage not to do this all the time.
Working remotely has pretty much saved my life as an autistic working professional.
Commuting. Variables. In-person stressors. Impacts on routine. Exposure. Compounded social anxieties, interpersonal ambiguity, even the fact that I walk funny — you name it, I just wouldn’t have had as good a professional experience if I wasn’t able to work from home.
That would have deeply, profoundly impacted my ability to function, provide for my family, accommodate change — all of which have been crucial to my quality of life.
Here are some of the “lifesaving” benefits it affords us autistic people:
An “opt-in” vs. “opt-out” approach. People say I’m really well-networked at work, which is unbelievable. But it would have been impossible without the setup to be intentional about my meetings and meetups. I plan. I come prepared. I get to assess my own social bandwidth and spend it only when I need to. And only when I can.
Selective exposure. I’ll travel and work at one of our locations from time to time. It’s great, but it’s hard to sustain for me. I can struggle with walkups, impromptu meetings, passersby, or frankly — my own unspooled curiosity in finding a peer to get a convo going after eavesdropping something of interest.
Emotional shielding. In my career,I’ve had maybe three great days, a lot of good ones, and some profoundly bad ones. I spend so much time masking even when I feel normal that it’s nigh impossible to maintain that in crisis or legitimate duress. Remote work allows me to disengage, recharge, and reboot without compromising my “image” or comportment.
Communication. When you work remote, you write a lot more. That helps SO much. If you get me talking, then I get myself into trouble. It’s no fun. But if my primary working mode involves more writing, planning, careful thought into what I say: then that’s a benefit!
Freedom to stim. I haven’t written about this yet, because I’m saving it for later — but being able to stim or otherwise pace at autistically-frantic speeds is a wonder for my own mental soothing and health. Can’t exactly do that up and down the aisles at work . . .
Routine safety. I am a creature of habit’s creature of habit — everything from my workspace is ordered, clean (kinda), and arranged for me, by me, with very few disturbances or otherwise unexpected happenings. That kind of routine safety takes away a major stressor.
If you’re not used to working remote, I understand it’s not for everyone. Hang in there. Drop me a line; I’ll be happy to help and hear you out.
But for those of us on the autism spectrum: remote work can be a lifesaver for us.
It has saved mine.
(Oh, and it probably kept me away from COVID-19 too. That’s nice.)