A report published in San Francisco this week highlights the effects of COVID-19 on desk-based workers — those in traditional office settings — and their deskless counterparts — remote and mobile employees. Key findings are that people are working longer hours and worry about the risks associated with either being on the frontline or returning to the office.
With every job affected by the pandemic in some way, the research looked at the challenges that both desk-based and deskless workers face, as well as how they perceive their jobs going under the current circumstances.
The report titled “The 2020 State of Work Report — Defining a New Normal Amid COVID-19 was released by Skedulo, a global leader in deskless productivity software. Headquartered in San Francisco and with offices in Australia, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom, Skedulo found that nearly 33% of deskless workers have either been infected with COVID-19 or know someone who has, which is higher than the national average. However, executives of both segments of the workforce are working as hard as they can to prevent potential exposure, as many have instituted work-from-home policies or enacted new regulations like wearing a mask or social distancing.
Outside of the health concerns, workers say that their jobs have become more difficult (58%) — with deskless (31%) and desk-based (38%) saying working more hours is the main reason why.
“The results of this study overwhelmingly showed that no matter if workers are desk-based or deskless, they’re feeling the effects and facing the challenges since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020,” said Matt Fairhurst, CEO and co-founder of Skedulo. “We’re seeing that employees are working more hours than normal and work has become more difficult due to a few factors, which overall is leading to job satisfaction levels to dip. This is concerning for employers and could result in higher levels of burnout.”
The research found COVID-19 is also having a customer-facing impact. Both deskless and desk-based workers reported productivity decreases, and field workers added that they’ve been unable to deliver the same level of customer service as they were prior to the pandemic.
However, employers tried to mitigate the challenges by turning to technology, specifically to assist those on the frontlines. Nearly three quarters of deskless workers (73%) said their employers implemented new technology as a reaction to the pandemic, which resulted in 80% of respondents feeling like they have the tools necessary to complete their jobs.
Reasons for optimism
There are reasons to be optimistic though. Executives realise that technology is one of the tools helping combat the effects workers are feeling. This investment could help boost employee productivity and make it easier for them to complete their jobs. But there’s still room for further improvement.
“CIOs’ investment in technology and decisions around the pandemic have proved beneficial, as workers recognize that their employers are trying hard to protect their health and help ease the difficulties caused by work,” Fairhurst added. “Further investments in technology could contribute to overcoming more of the challenges presented by COVID-19. This study reinforces that message and offers reasons to be optimistic about the future of work for both deskless and desk-based workers.”
This new research comes on the heels of the release of Skedulo’s “Solving the Software Gap for the Growing Community of Deskless Workers” study in August, which specifically analyzed the lack of software tools dedicated to the deskless workforce, which consists of 2.7 billion people and makes up 80% of the global workforce. In that study, two-thirds of respondents said they expect the deskless workforce will continue to grow despite the current economic situation. Together, the two studies show that investing in technology could help solve the unique challenges that the deskless workforce faces, both those that were around before the pandemic and those that arose during the pandemic.
To learn more about Skedulo and the future of Deskless Productivity, click here.
For more information on burnout, click here.
About This Research Study
Skedulo performed a web-based survey of 1,336 employees made up of 626 deskless workers, 610 desk-based workers, and 100 IT executives in October 2020. Respondents were primarily from 4 countries: United States (642 respondents), India (262), United Kingdom (235), and Australia (188), and other countries (9). Respondents represented a range of organizational sizes across a representative spectrum of industries.
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