Tuesday Nov 29, 2022

What it’s like returning to the office as a person with a disability: ‘My biggest fear was physical survival’ – CNBC


This is part of CNBC Make It’s My First Day Back series, where people share their stories of what it’s like to return to the office after working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Are you planning to return to the office soon? Share your stories with us here.

Name: Alexa Dectis 
Age: 29
Office: Netflix’s Los Angeles office 
Working home since: March 13, 2020
Returned: April 19, 2022 
Return requirements: Proof of Covid-19 vaccine and negative Covid-19 test 

There’s a lot to dread about returning to the office: waking up late, hitting traffic, meeting co-workers for the first time — the list continues. 

But as Alexa Dectis recalls, her return-to-office fears boiled down to “physical survival.” 

At 16 months old, Dectis was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular disease that weakens the muscles and can make activities such as speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing incredibly difficult or, for some, impossible. 

“I realized from a really early age that the only way I could make something of myself would be if I used the power of my brain to overcome the weakness of my body,” she tells CNBC Make It. “I also knew that I needed a career that solely relied on my intellect — that’s what brought me to the legal profession, because you can be a really great lawyer without needing to move any muscles in your body.” 

Dectis is unable to walk and uses a motorized chair to travel. She can comfortably speak, eat and type, but relies on caregivers to assist her with other physical needs, such as showering and dressing. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Dectis had split her time working on Skydance’s legal team from her apartment in Los Angeles, where she lives alone, and her parents’ house in Pennsylvania. 

Earlier this year, however, a recruiter from Netflix reached out to her with an offer to join the streaming giant’s minors, immigration and diligence team as a legal associate. 

She accepted the job with the expectation that she would go into Netflix’s Los Angeles office three days a week, and work from home the other two days. “You don’t say no to Netflix,” Dectis says. “And this was the job, and the team, that I’ve always dreamed of working in.” 

CNBC Make It: How did you prepare to return to the office, and how did Netflix help?

Alexa Dectis: It required a lot of planning and scheduling — I had to plan out who would get me ready for work in the morning and which commute worked best for me, because I can’t drive. It’s easier to take public transit — I prefer the bus — because it allows me more independence, but it adds time to my day because it almost doubles my commute.

Even when I’m in the office, I have to plan out when I drink water, because a care assistant needs to take me to the bathroom. So every day at lunch, I have to arrange for a caregiver to come to Netflix’s office for 15 minutes, help me use the bathroom once, and then leave. 

Having spinal muscular atrophy impacts my workday a lot. But it’s also taught me excellent time management, and it’s taught me to  make the most of every opportunity because so many people with disabilities are unable to work, and the fact that I get to have this …….

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/16/what-its-like-returning-to-the-office-as-a-person-with-a-disability.html

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