The State of the Deskless Workforce 2020

We asked the biggest workforce worldwide - the deskless workers - about their health and work balance, and what they need from an employer to be productive, loyal and happy.

Forgotten workers brought to light

Each year, thousands of surveys assess the health and happiness of office-based employees. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the 2.7 billion workers worldwide who keep us healthy, restock our supermarkets’ shelves, transport us and are critical to the day-to-day functions of our global society. The State of the Deskless Workforce is a new annual report that focuses on their working conditions and wellbeing.
Access global report

Key Takeaways

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A majority miss out on personal time and social events, due to lack of schedule flexibility.

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1 in 4 global workers prefer a flexible schedule above a raise.

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Half the deskless workers have gone to work sick.

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At least half of the workforce planned to stay in their job long-term.

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4 in 5 are contacted by their boss out-of-hours disrupting their personal lives.

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1 in 4 who lost their job during COVID-19 plan to find a job in an industry with better security.

Deep-dive per market

Download The State of the Deskless Workforce report for your region, and see the changes occurring in your market.

We polled a total of 2400 US deskless workers. Here are the key takeaways: 

  • 74% go to work when they are sick and 14% still went to work sick during COVID-19, likely because just 13% have paid sick leave.
  • 24% lost jobs during COVID-19.
  • 47% think switching shifts could get them fired.
Read the US Report

We polled 2400 UK deskless workers. Here are the key takeaways:

  • 88% are contacted by their employer when they are “off the clock”.
  • 70% go to work even when sick.  During COVID-19, 20% of workers still went to work while feeling ill.
  • 1 in 3 would choose a flexible work schedule over making more money.
Read the UK Report

We asked a total of 1200 deskless workers in the Netherlands. Here are the key takeaways:

  • 83% feel valued by their employers. During the pandemic, this number increased to 87%.
  • 73% have missed a social event or holiday celebration because of their work schedule or request from their employer.
  • For 61% of deskless workers, the ability to schedule their own shifts would be the factor that improves their workplace happiness the most.
Read the Dutch Report
Before and during the Corona Pandemic, we asked a total of 2,400 German employees what moved them. Here are the key takeaways:
  • A large proportion of employees sacrifice their private lives in favour of inflexible shift schedules and thus forego valuable recovery time.
  • Every fourth employee went to work sick during the Corona lockdown
  • 1 in 3 would opt for flexible working hours rather than a pay rise
Read the German report

We polled a total of 2000 Swedish deskless workers. Here are the key takeaways: 

  • 48% went to work sick because they could not afford to take sick leave. During COVID-19, 16% of the scheduled workforce went to work sick.
  • 1 out of 3 would choose a flexible schedule before a higher salary.
  • During COVID-19, there was a 8% increase of the workers who felt appreciated by their employers.
Read the Swedish report

We polled a total of 1200 deskless workers from Finland. Here are the key takeaways: 

  • 45% go to work when they are sick and 18% still went to work sick during COVID-19
  • Employees went to work sick because 1 in 3 feared losing their jobs if they didn’t show up at work.
  • 2 in 3 of employees felt that their employer clearly communicated the company's policy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Read the Finnish Report
We polled a total of 1000 Danish deskless workers. Here are the key takeaways: 
  • Before Covid-19, 85% of employees went to work while sick because they could not afford to stay home, and 26% went to work during the crisis. 
  • 94% felt that their work was valued by the employer before the pandemic started, against 86% during the crisis.
  • Before the crisis, employees were squeezed by the lack of schedule flexibility. So much so that 17% would choose a more flexible schedule rather than higher pay.
Read the Danish report

We polled a total of 1200 Norweigan deskless workers. Here are the key takeaways: 

  • 66% went to work sick before covid-19. 18% went to work when they were sick during COVID-19. 
  • 1 in 3 did not think they were given enough - or correct - training and instructions on how to work during the pandemic.
  • 83% are contacted by the employer when they are free and not working.
Read the Norwegian report


In March 2020 we polled 12 000 people, identifying themselves as a deskless worker, working in industries as retail, hotel and food services, healthcare, transportation and logistics. With businesses now managing four or more generations in the workplace, we analyzed how results differed between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. 

Then, the world faced a global pandemic. To understand how this has changed the deskless workforce, we polled the same target audience in late April 2020. 

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Why flexible schedules are key for a soaring business

With strides being taken across the globe to reach a new normal - flexible schedules for the deskless workforce are crucial. But why are they so important, what’s the current state of scheduling, and how can you make your schedules more flexible?

Read blog post