With left-handed people comprising about 10 per cent of the population, there are likely to be a few of them in each workplace. Yet the majority (97 per cent) of employers don’t ask new recruits about handedness, according to a recent survey by Britain-based online recruiter CV-Library Ltd.

The survey of 2,400 employees found 82 per cent of respondents believe employers should ensure left-handed employees have adequate tools in the workplace. While it’s rare to find left-handed supplies such as scissors, most lefties find a way to cope. “The funny general consensus of most left-handed people is you just adapt,” says Charlene Gabriel, an associate at Aon Hewitt in Vancouver who’s a leftie. In fact, Gabriel adapts by flipping her notebook upside down and writing on the back side of the pages.

Read: The debate over standing desks: Variety key to maximizing health, productivity benefits

Where accommodation may be necessary, however, is at a workstation. When Pepper Gaston transferred into the human resources department at Niagara Casinos in 2011, she noticed her new desk was definitely designed for a right-handed person. To make things easier, she asked to have the drawers and telephone set up on the left side. “I asked my boss, and she just had me put in a work order. It was very simple,” says Gaston, who’s currently a disability programs consultant with the organization.

For her part, Gabriel simply moved the phone and pencils herself. “It’s so silly and minuscule, but you don’t think about it until you’re reaching out and it’s not there,” she says.

While their desks are now to their liking, Gabriel and Gaston have each had some rather humorous challenges. Before moving into human resources, Gaston was a floor supervisor, which entailed opening slot machines regularly. “The doors of the slot machines are built for a right-handed person, so you would go in with your right hand, turn the key and press the levers to open the machine.

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“Some nights, you might be opening numerous slot machine doors,” she says, adding it was simply a matter of getting used to using her right hand more than usual. While Gaston could have used her left hand, “positioning-wise, it didn’t quite work out,” she says.

For Gabriel, it’s using the binding machine and the paper cutter, which seems to provide entertainment for her right-handed colleagues when they walk into the printing room. “It’s a bit of an acrobatic feat,” she says. “I have to awkwardly bend around as I can’t get enough power in my right hand. I use my left hand to cut and hopefully keep all the papers in place with my right. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that too much anymore.”

Gaston says employers shouldn’t have to ask employees if they’re lefties. But employees, she suggests, should feel free to ask for something that would make their jobs easier.

Read: What can employers do to create psychologically healthy workplaces?

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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