• Category Archives Advice, Information
  • How to give your mobility impaired clients the best service possible.

    Mobility impaired clients come in all shapes and sizes.

    If you deal with clients, you probably have a few mobility impaired clients. Maybe they’re in a wheelchair or use a walker – maybe they just have chronic pain issues that are not so evident. Mobility impaired people come in all shapes and sizes. While some are easily spotted due to equipment (wheelchairs, canes, and the like), others may not be so obvious. Maybe they walk with a slight limp or perhaps their clothing covers their disability. As someone who has mobility issues, but also as someone who has had clients with mobility issues, I find myself looking for answers: How do we serve our mobility impaired clients?

    Obviously, there’s some basic things, such as following ADA standards, but your clients, all your clients, deserve more than just the basics. Your clients deserve the best service you can give. Join me as I explore the ways you might be able to make your business a little more comfortable for your mobility impaired clients.

    Make sure to have adequate seating.

    You want to ensure your clients’ comfort while doing business. If your clients are in pain due to the fact they must stand while waiting to meet with you, then they’re not going to want to come back. This might seem like a basic concept, but finding adequate seating can be a struggle. Make sure your lobby, offices, waiting areas and the like all have decent chairs. These chairs do not have to be fancy. Just make sure they are an average height (high stools are difficult for those whose legs don’t function properly). Also make sure they have a back (80 percent of Americans will have back problems sometime in their lives).

    Going further if your business has regular meet and greets, get togethers, client appreciation events, and other social type gatherings, make sure such gatherings also have enough seating. Have areas that encourage sitting and standing – so as to encourage people to mingle comfortably.

    Be proactive: watch. 

    Always try to anticipate problems before they happen. This is a standard mantra for all businesses, big and small – and with mobility impaired clients, this is especially important. How can you be proactive with mobility impaired clients? I already mentioned ADA standards. While said standards will differ from business to business, there are a few things, such as electric doors, disabled restroom stalls, disabled parking, and adequate clearance in hallways for wheelchairs.  These are great ways to make your mobility impaired clients feel welcome, but again, you want to give your clients the best service possible.

    If you know a client has a mobility issue (or any disability for that matter), make sure to watch their activity while at your business, and take note of any struggles they might have. Maybe you have a common kitchen and they can’t reach the plates due to use of a wheelchair – a simple fix, put a couple plates where your client can reach. Maybe your client looks uncomfortable in a certain chair – offer them a more comfortable seating option. Watching your clients’ activities in your business will tell you more information about your disabled clients, and they’ll be grateful for your service.

    Listen to what they have to say – don’t just assume

    Every person has different needs, and while a one size fits all solution would be nice, sometimes they just don’t work with mobility impaired clients (or all disabled clients for that matter). More so, every business is different, and your clients might not know the issues they face with your business until they get into your building. Make sure to listen to your clients complaints and criticisms as they come about. Perhaps your clients might ask for something unreasonable, but even listening to that and “seeing what you can do” will make them feel like you care.

    Go the extra mile, have a designated person, or group of people, in your business, that your disabled clients can come to discuss any issues they might have with your business. This person or group of people should be excellent listeners. It might also help if this person or group of people have a disability themselves. This will give your “listeners” a bit of credibility with your disabled clients. This will also mean your employees will have a bit of empathy for your clients needs.

    Is your location safe and accessible?

    Ok, so you probably will not move your business just for the sake of a handful of clients – I get it. Having said that, if you are considering a move, consider a location within a block or two of public transportation. People with disabilities are more likely to use public transportation. More so, for people with mobility issues, going more than a few blocks can be an issue. I know for myself, if I need to walk more than five blocks to reach my destination, I reconsider my plans of visiting a business.  Besides, being close to public transportation also encourages your other clients, as well as your staff, to leave their cars at home and go green!

    Safety of the neighborhood is also a big factor. Disabled people are often times easy targets. Sure, the rent might be cheaper in that run down, high crime area, but is it really worth the safety of your clients?

    Remember, your mobility impaired clients might be in pain

    We all have our own tolerances to pain. My tolerances are higher than most. However, just because I ignore the pain does not mean the pain goes away. The pain comes back in other forms. Usually, it’s my mood. I snap at my girlfriend, or just get depressed. Luckily, I have learned to notice this is what’s happening – so I don’t get myself in the doghouse with my girlfriend too often.

    I share this information because while dealing with mobility impaired clients, you must know that they very well might be in more pain than you know. Even if they’ve learned to mask their pain like I have, said pain might be expressed in other forms.

    Imagine the worst headache you’ve ever had. Imagine your mood towards other people. Did you treat your spouse as loving as you normally would? Did you yell at your kids, friends, siblings, etc? Even if you didn’t, did you want to? Now imagine if that headache lasted your entire life, with no real relief. Some of your clients have this level of pain all the time. Most of your mobility impaired clients experience this a lot more frequently than able bodied people experience.

    Knowledge is power – give your clients a little slack if they’re a little more agitated than normal. Don’t escalate things. Just be professional and calm. Make them know that you’re on they’re side. Make them feel safe.

    Don’t let them abuse you

    Yes – your mobility impaired clients are in pain. Yes – they might act irrationally at times because of this pain. No – this is not, I repeat, not an excuse for abusive or disruptive behavior. If you have a client yelling at you, for any reason, this is unacceptable. If your client is being disruptive for any reason, you should not have to accept this behavior. Address them rationally, calmly, and do not try to escalate the situation. Chances are, if your clients are lashing out at you, it’s for one of two reasons.

    The first reason: something you did or said upset your client. If this is the case, try to identify this situation and try to rectify this if possible. I have been on both the client and the employee side of this type of outburst. It is very embarrassing to be the client in this situation, so if your client does apologize, accept it with as much grace as you can. As long as this does not become a constant issue with this client, it’s best just to sweep this under the rug and make sure they still feel welcome. Having said that – as an employee dealing with client outbursts, I can fully emphasize with how disturbing this situation feels. If the client does not apologize, this should be taken into account when weighing the situation. 

    Of course, in all groups of people, no matter creed, color, physical ability, gender, or sexual orientation, you will have those who just lash out for no real reason. In this case – you might not be able to rectify the situation. Again – just try to talk calmly and rationally. It’s ok to call another employee if need be. 

    Treat them normally as possible

    This might be the most important point in dealing with all disabled clients (not just mobility impaired clients). Most of us want to be treated as normal as possible. Don’t single your clients out by giving them unwanted special treatment. While this might seem counterproductive, autonomy is extremely important – especially to those who have less autonomy than the average person.

    Having said that – try to communicate your business’s special needs policies directly. Put up signage, include it in form emails and letters, mention this in any orientations and/ or group gatherings. Use whatever means you feel best communicates to your clients.

    In conclusion

    If you really want to get serious about helping your mobility impaired clients, or any of your disabled clients for that matter, hiring a consultant might be the way to go. However, a simple look, listen, and learn approach coupled with as much communication as possible should help you to serve these clients as best as you can.

  • Working Tuesday through Saturday: Pros and Cons.

    Working Tuesday through Saturday could leave you free as a bird at the beach!

    In my last job, I worked Tuesday through Saturday. I really liked this schedule  – but there were certainly drawbacks. I did not appreciate hearing “TGIF” when I had another day left in my work week. Still, I got back at them by exclaiming. “I love Mondays!”, while everyone else drudged back to the working week. All in all, if I can choose a schedule for my next job, I will gladly work Tuesday through Saturday, however, I have different tastes than others. Maybe you’re considering a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. More and more Americans are opting to work on Saturday or Sunday and dropping a weekday from their schedule.  If you want to weigh the pros and cons, I’ve put together a list of my personal experiences.

    You get a lot done on Mondays if you don’t have to work.

    Do you ever find yourself running errands on your lunch break? Perhaps the bank isn’t open when you’re off work. Maybe the pharmacy isn’t open on weekends. Maybe you have to take PTO for a doctor’s appointment or a teacher-parent conference. Whatever the errand, when you work Tuesday through Saturday, this becomes less of a problem. Just make an appointment on a Monday, and all is well. Go to the bank and the pharmacy at your leisure on Monday, and enjoy your lunch break during the rest of the week. You don’t even have to use PTO to get that root canal!

    Three Day Weekends are a bit tricky.

    Almost all three-day weekends involve a Monday. So what happens when someone’s usual weekend involves a Monday? At my former work, I either got a different day off, or I got an extra eight-hour’s pay. I always felt it was a fair arrangement.  I usually opted for the three day weekend unless I really needed the money. Having said that, a three-day weekend meant no-one in my department for two days. If your job has work that has to be done despite the three day weekend, that probably means the person who works Saturday has to do more than their normal Saturday work load.

    There’s also the fact that by the time I got off on Saturday, everyone else has been off for a full 24 hours. If there’s a weekend getaway, your friends and/or family will have left on Friday night or Saturday morning. They’ll also want to come home on Monday, and if your schedule allows you to take Tuesday off – this means that you get less time with your loved ones. Depending on your work arrangement, you might be able to finagle getting Saturday off during a three day weekend.

    Everyone is off on Saturdays.

    I just mentioned that when I got off work on Saturday, everyone has already been off work for a full 24 hours. This meant everyone thought I’m free on Saturday during the day. Friends would call me and say “Hey want to do this or that on Saturday afternoon” I’m like – you mean when I’m working? I actually left a church partly because every time they would schedule something social, it would be Saturday afternoon. So – there’s a con right there. If you’re highly involved in a church, or other groups that have weekend events, you might want to forgo working Tuesday through Saturday.

    Your Saturday is everyone else’s Sunday:

    If you’re a night owl like me, what do you like to do on Saturday mornings? Chances are, you just want to laze about – maybe not even get out of bed before 11 or 12. What about Sundays? If you go to church, Sunday is probably the day you go. This is another reason I stopped going to church – I was too tired. It was my Saturday, and I just didn’t have it in me to be social. I wanted to, maybe even needed to sleep in on Sundays.

    Of course, by afternoon, I want to get out and do something – but everyone is busy running errands, grocery shopping, et al. Sunday evenings usually found most of my Monday through Friday working friends tucked in, getting ready for the working week. Staying up late just wasn’t an option for them.

    Simple supply and demand means restaurants close early on Sundays. Any weekend events – brew fests, street fairs, ethnic festivals, and what not -they’ll certainly be done by 5. If there’s anything happening it will end by 5 PM. However – my girlfriend and I did find a theater or two that offers cheap movies on Sunday. Saturday night movies are expensive, so this is an amazing perk. The theaters are relatively empty too – I’ve never tried to go to a Sunday night movie, only to find it sold out.

    Mondays are pretty much void of people.

    Again – if something happens on a Sunday, it closes at 5 PM. But nothing happens on Mondays. When was the last time you went to a chili cook off in the park on a Monday afternoon?  Having said that – with no one around on Mondays, the world is your oyster! Eat at any restaurant you wish without a long wait. Go to a movie with no line, even if a concert happens on a Monday, it’ll be less full than on a Friday or a Saturday. People are at work during the day, and really tired Monday night. Talk about an introvert’s dream.

    Your coworkers assume you can work on Mondays:

    One day during an informal meeting that wasn’t getting anywhere, someone suggested that we reconvene. This same person suggested Monday. I sat back in my seat, set out a sigh, and hoped to God that everyone else could meet a different day. This kind of situation happened all the time. It was pretty common to get asked “Hey, can you do this task on Monday?” or “Can we meet Monday afternoon?”

    About 95 percent of the time, I was able to pass whatever tasks onto the guy who worked in my department on Monday. Occasionally though, there were tasks or meetings that required my presence. Even if this involved a conference call from home,  that still cut into my day off. I remember a time when my boss called me while I was having lunch with my girlfriend, asking when I was going to get something done! That was not a good experience.

    Granted – this isn’t the fault any of my former (or your possible future) coworkers (including my former boss). They can’t memorize your schedule, just as you can’t memorize their schedule. This is just one of the hazards of working Tuesday through Saturday.

    You have less time to collaborate with your coworkers:

    Sure, Tuesday through Friday, you are in the normal groove of the workforce, but what happens when another co-worker works from home one day a week? What about a co-worker who works Sunday through Monday? Maybe Wednesday through Sunday? How about when a coworkers calls in sick? I faced every one of these situations – and it was frustrating. My workplace tried to solve this by trying to get everyone in the building on Thursdays. This helped, but that often made a tiresome Thursday. At least once a month, I would have three meetings back to back. By the end of the third meeting, I felt like a zombie. My brain had totally lost all cognitive thought, and I was just ready to go to sleep. Oh, and when you have so many meetings on one day, noting else gets done.

    You do get a lot done on Saturdays – and Fridays.

    I could get a lot more done on a Saturday than any other day of the week. Why? Because I was not distracted by emails, slack messages, coworkers waking in, etcetera. There were no spontaneous and/or looming projects that had to be done immediately. This also helped my stress levels, because I knew what to expect when I walked into work on Saturdays. Oh – and if you’re the only one at the office, you can play your music as loud as you want!

    There an added bonus to your co-workers starting their weekend earlier; no one wants to start a big project on Friday. No one wants to start a project and then go home for two days. They’ll be thinking of the project their entire weekend. So, since there were no big projects coming down the pipeline on Fridays, I also got a lot done that day.

    Conclusion: Is working Tuesday through Saturday right for you?

    Honestly, this schedule isn’t for everyone. There certainly seems to be more cons than pros listed. Having said that, the biggest advantage, or disadvantage, rests on your social life. Do you value a lot of interactions with your family and friends? If the answer is yes, you should probably stick with a Monday through Friday schedule. However, if you’re not as sociable, a Tuesday through Saturday schedule might be ideal for you.

    The other con set has to do with your actual work environment. Will working Tuesday through Saturday affect your work performance? Can you handle getting phone calls from you boss on what is essentially your Sunday? If you don’t mind this, then certainly working Tuesday through Saturday can benefit you. If, however, it throws you and/or your coworkers into a state of disarray, you should probably stick to a Monday through Friday Schedule.