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Well-Being of ‘Deskless Workers’ Negatively Affected Amid Pandemic

The overall well-being of many workers who were deemed essential during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was negatively affected.

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This is according to the “State of the Deskless Workforce” survey by Quinyx, which found that of the 1,200 U.S. workers surveyed, 14% reported going to work when they were sick, while 24% said they were laid off.

Among the reasons why participants said they worked despite experiencing symptoms of illness, 48% said they needed the money, 30% said there was no one to cover their shift and 16% said they were worried they would lose their job if they missed work. Pay was the top reason workers in hotel and food service (63%), retail (53%), transportation (45%) and health care (39%) came into work while sick.

More than half (68%) of deskless workers were deemed essential during COVID-19, but 37% said their employer didn’t provide adequate training or direction during the pandemic. Another one in four (28%) felt uncomfortable discussing what to do if a family member was sick during COVID-19.

A positive, however, was that despite job losses and reduced hours, those who remained employed said they feel more valued for their work now than before the pandemic (63% before vs. 73% after).

The survey also found that COVID-19 created demand for deskless jobs with better benefits. The pandemic cost one in four their jobs, and 29% of those workers plan to leave their industry entirely in search of better benefits, including paid sick leave. Even for those who kept their jobs, 18% of them still plan to leave for better benefits.

In data acquired in February, before the pandemic took hold, deskless workers admitted they were stressed about their schedules and the overall lack of flexibility from their jobs. 31% of workers said they left a job because their employer didn’t provide schedules in advance, 39% said they have called out of work because they couldn’t find a coworker to cover their shift and 47% said they believe switching a shift would be perceived negatively by their employer.

Other findings unrelated to COVID-19:

  • 70% of workers said their inflexible schedules caused them to miss social events or holiday celebrations.
  • 49% said their inflexible schedules caused them to miss a major milestone for a family or friend.
  • 34% said their inflexible schedules caused them to miss educational activities.

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