Working While Sick Due to Lack of Paid Sick Leave, Missing Milestones, Feeling Undervalued and More: Quinyx ‘State of the Deskless Workforce’ Exposes Employment Realities Facing Deskless Workers

  • Report compares worker sentiment before COVID-19 outbreak and during the pandemic
  • 66 percent have given up sleep, hobbies, normal eating habits due to inflexible work schedules
  • Half (48 percent) of those who went into work sick during COVID-19 did so because they couldn’t afford to lose pay
  • One in three (35 percent) aren’t comfortable talking to an employer about the impact of work conditions on their health

BOSTON--()--Before the COVID-19 health crisis, three in four (74%) deskless workers chose to go into work while they were sick, and challenges such as a lack of flexibility and sick time are likely to blame, with less than one in five (13%) workers saying they have paid sick leave. On top of that, nearly half (47%) of deskless workers also worried that switching shifts could get them fired.

That’s according to the 2020 State of the Deskless Workforce released today by Quinyx, a leading provider of workforce management solutions. In March, before many Americans experienced unprecedented levels of unemployment, Quinyx polled 1,200 U.S. adults who identify as deskless workers to understand how scheduling, sick time, wages and communication impact their health and happiness.

Results showed workers were unable to achieve work life balance, with two in three (66 percent) giving up sleep, hobbies, and normal eating habits due to inflexible schedules. Workers say they were also regularly forced to choose between their personal lives and their jobs, with the majority missing social events or holidays (70 percent) or major milestones such as funerals or weddings (49 percent) due to inflexible schedules. Younger generations were more likely to feel tied to their job, with Gen Zers most likely to sacrifice social events (74 percent) and Millennials most likely to miss major milestones (52 percent) due to their work schedule.

Outside of schedules, workers struggled to maintain good communication with their employer. The majority of deskless workers (85 percent) reported their employer takes an ‘always-on’ approach to communication, regularly contacting them when they are off hours. Added to this, deskless workers feel uncomfortable coming to their employer or manager with questions about scheduling issues affecting their personal lives (25 percent), how working conditions impact their physical or mental health (35 percent), pay raise or wage disparities (33 percent), or a loss or increase in work hours (25 percent).

Deskless Workers in a Post-COVID-19 World

With COVID-19 universally altering Americans’ daily lives, Quinyx launched a second survey in April to understand how deskless workers were affected and how sentiment changed throughout the pandemic.

Findings showed deskless workers’ concerns and challenges didn’t necessarily change in the wake of COVID-19, but poor workplace practices are now putting both employees and customers’ health at risk. In fact, one in seven (14 percent) still went to work sick during the pandemic, with half (48 percent) doing so because they couldn’t afford to lose pay. Industries where workers come in regular contact with consumers such as hotel and food services (63 percent) and retail (53 percent) were the most likely to go to work sick to make sure they could make ends meet.

Employees also faced similar communication problems as they did prior to COVID-19, with one in five (19 percent) saying they felt uncomfortable asking what to do if they felt ill, one in five (20 percent) uncomfortable talking about concerns with working during the pandemic, and one in four (25 percent) uncomfortable with discussing compensation or job security. For those considered essential workers (68 percent), their communication troubles prevented them from receiving proper training during the pandemic. One in three (35 percent) essential workers say their employer did not provide adequate training or direction during the pandemic, including one in seven (14 percent) who say they received no training at all.

“Deskless workers have always supported the backbone of the U.S. economy, but they can frequently be the ‘forgotten workforce,’ forced to manage with the little support they are provided by employers,” said Quinyx CEO and Founder, Erik Fjellborg. “It’s time to change the narrative and provide deskless workers with the same benefits and workplace flexibility that is seen in corporate environments. If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown anything, it's that offering deskless workers meaningful communication and the ability to balance their job and their personal life is essential for long-term health and happiness.”

Additional report findings show:

  • Deskless workers struggle to make ends meet even before COVID-19, and it’s causing them to feel disposable: Prior to COVID-19, deskless workers were taking on multiple jobs to make ends meet, with two in five (41 percent) saying they have a “side-hustle.” In fact, almost half (44 percent) made $11-$15 an hour, which likely contributed to the sentiment among one in three (37 percent) deskless workers that their employer doesn’t value the work they do.
  • COVID-19 created a demand for better benefits: One in four (24 percent) deskless workers lost jobs during COVID-19 and one in four (29 percent) of those workers say they plan to now look for a new job in an industry that offers better benefits and job security. Even one in five who kept their jobs (18 percent) say they plan to leave for better benefits, such as sick leave.
  • Deskless workers didn’t feel heard by presidential candidates before the pandemic, and still don’t: The same amount of deskless workers said they don’t believe political candidates are addressing the issues they care about now (33 percent) as did before COVID-19 (34 percent). However, candidates’ reactions during COVID-19 impact how one in four (29 percent) deskless workers will vote in the 2020 presidential election.

For additional information from the 2020 State of the Deskless Workforce, please visit:

Survey Methodology:

The 2020 State of the Deskless Workforce was based on a survey conducted in February 2020 (pre-COVID-19) and a second survey in March 2020 (during COVID-19) of 1,200 Americans 18+ who identify themselves as a deskless worker (i.e. they work a shift-based or hourly schedule set by an employer with the majority of their work time not “spent at a desk”) on topics related to scheduling, sick time, wages and communication. The survey was conducted over mobile devices by a survey company Pollfish.

About Quinyx:

Quinyx is a leading workforce management software providing technology that simplifies scheduling, time reporting, communication, task management, budgeting and forecasting. Through advanced and flexible features, Quinyx helps organizations remain compliant, improve efficiency, reduce costs of labor and engage employees.

Today, Quinyx helps some of the world’s biggest businesses save time and money, boost productivity and engage their workforce. Quinyx has offices in the UK, Sweden, U.S., Finland, Germany, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. Its software has also been implemented globally in markets and regions such as Europe, North America, China, Japan and Korea.

Clients include Burger King, Swarovski, IHG, Kal Tire, Boots, Virgin Atlantic, London City Airport, McDonald and Odeon Cinemas Group. For more information, visit


Press Contact:
Laurie Pace


Press Contact:
Laurie Pace