Community Thoughts: Strategies for Work

Community Thoughts: Strategies for Work

Dealing with RA in the workplace is no easy feat, yet it’s something many people must do every day. So we asked our Facebook community, “Do you have tips for managing RA in the workplace? Have you discussed RA with colleagues or made adjustments to your responsibilities, workspace, or schedule?” See what our community had to say, and add your own experiences below in the comments (Don’t miss Mariah’s tips for RA & Workplace Accommodations)!


I use specific strategies

  • I put in as much as I can in the morning, lunch nap, then start again.
  • Where I work has a good occupational health and HR departments so I’ve had modifications to my desk setup, been given a laptop and mobile for working from home.
  • I just got a desk job and I am beyond happy so now I am not on my feet 8+ hours a day.
  • My work place is my home and there have been many changes : lowering rods in closets, putting light switches down lower, the kind you can just hit to turn on, extensions on all the cords for the shades, extensions on the kitchen sink and the shower head, plus changing door knobs inside and outside so I can just push on them and not have to turn them.
  • The best piece of advice I have is be honest and open about it. It’s not a super visible disease but I don’t view it as whining when I let them know I’m having a rough day. It simply tells them that I may not move as fast or think as quickly as normal.
  • I was always up front with my boss about infusions that couldn’t be scheduled on days off.
  • You have no choice but to work as smart as possible and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help.
  • I have sick leave and have been able to use that for doctor visits.
  • I will say that there are some jobs I could not do anymore, like waiting tables or checking groceries. So, sometimes you need to find a different job to match your abilities.
  • I’m very lucky I have been able to reduce my hours and be allocated a job where I can be mainly sitting as needed.
  • I’ve taken a step back from a more involved position I was holding and it suits me much better.
  • With my doctor’s help, I have reduced my work hours from 40 to 30 hrs a week. I can feel the difference in both my phycial and mental well being.

The people I work with have been very helpful

  • I immediately told my coworkers and boss. They open bottles for me and seem concerned about my well being. So far no adjustments to responsibilities.
  • When I have to be absent due to my RA, it’s not held against me since my manager helped me get intermittent short term leave set up.
  • Honesty is the best way because some day the fatigue is so bad i have to go take a nap in my car instead of eating lunch just to make it.
  • My new job totally accommodates for my RA, making sure to not work me too many hours or days in a row. But I work in medical.
  • My work have been amazing. They’ve offered to adjust my hours, allow me to work from home when things get really bad and have begun scheduling all my meetings in the afternoon to give me a chance to settle into the day.
  • My employer has been very accommodating, allowing me handicap parking and allowing time off for appointments and sick time, but then again I work at a hospital.
  • I work 60 hours a week and my job can be quite stressful, but my directors and co-workers have always been understanding.
  • My manager kept me on as long as she could, so I would have insurance.
  • Due to severe fatigue, work accommodated me by cutting my hours.

My workplace was not accommodating/I left my job 

  • My job told me they wanted to “work with me” and then I was laid off.
  • I got fired from my job due to my health issues.
  • Told my employer what I was diagnosed with, and they just looked at me like, so don’t miss any work. They made no accommodations from my dept manager up to human resources.
  • I was told by HR that I could get short term disability, when I applied, I wasn’t eligible.
  • I changed to a desk job but then the constant typing and reading and sitting made hips, neck, wrist, and fingers hurt. I finally had to retire. At 50!
  • I earn sick leave but every time I use any, even if I’m just leaving early, I have to supply them with an excuse from a doctor.
  • I was a nurse and had to quit because my feet to my hips couldn’t take it anymore.
  • I was asked to resign because I missed so much work. I quit, then started my own business from home that way when I was exhausted I could sit for as long as I needed to.
  • The only accommodation I get as a 911 dispatcher is intermittent FMLA use. Our chairs are hard plastic with no support and they won’t let me bring my own in.

I went on disability

  • I worked for years with RA. Then my knees got so bad I was able to get disability.

What is your experience with managing RA in the workplace? Please share in the comments!

Comments

View Comments (7)
  • Denise
    2 years ago

    I drive a school bus. This my 20th year and I have had RA since 2006. They have in past years gave me a bus to drive that does not shake or vibrate when they take my bus in for repairs. All of a sudden this time they took my bus and for 2 days I drove a bus that worked for me. Then they said I had to drive the spare which shakes.so bad that after 4 hours I am hurting all over. They said that I have to drive the spare .

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    So sorry to hear that Denise. I hope that you are able to advocate for yourself further and explain your need. In addition to speaking with your doctor for support, these articles on how to speak with your boss/management about workplace accommodations may be helpful to you: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/workplace-accommodations-under-the-americans-with-disabilities-act/
    and https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/ra-and-workplace-accommodations/.
    Wishing you some resolution and relief soon. Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team member

  • Cathy at arthritiswisdom.com
    2 years ago

    I determined after hand surgery I could no longer be on-call 24 hours/day. Interrupting my sleep would cause flares. I decided my health came first. That changed my job.

  • swbw
    3 years ago

    I had to quit a job I loved when I was 55 years old. Now I sell on-line and it is something I can handle most of the time.

  • Jillian S moderator
    3 years ago

    swbw,
    I am sorry to hear that you had to quit a great job before you were ready. However, that is great that you were able to get an online job! I love my online job. It is nice to have the opportunity to be in your own space with all of your essentials at your disposal.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us.
    Jillian (Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team)

  • Julie Brinson
    3 years ago

    Job I was at for 11.5 years was at first very understanding, then 4 months later was terminated due to “job had outgrown my capabilities”! Next job was worse, boss said she was understanding but was “written-up” 9 times for not doing my job by her standards in a year and 9 month period. Quit that one due to the stress it had on my body! Last job full-time job I got, was up front and honest with them and that lasted 6 weeks because someone came to work with the flu and a got me sick and I was out 7 days. They called and terminated me over the phone for being out too much!! Now work from home (with what I can get) in my own business and have been denied twice for disability – they say I’m not sick enough and the disease isn’t severe enough! Have lawyers working on it but…… now on round 3! And in two month have to start paying my mortgage again (have been being helped with NC Foreclosure Fund)but don’t have $800 for that either! So, when no will hire you and your body doesn’t want to cooperate anymore what do you do?

  • swbw
    3 years ago

    It is a sad thing for sure…working from home is the only thing I have found that works. I sell fabric on line.

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