Sector News

Why deskless workers are leaving—and how to win them back

July 14, 2022

“Deskless” workers—those who need to be physically present to do their jobs—do not have the option to work remotely. They also generally do not have the flexibility to set their hours. And more than one-third of these workers, who make up three-quarters or more of the labor force in most countries, are at risk of quitting in the next six months.

This finding, revealed in a seven-nation survey of more than 7,000 deskless workers, has potentially dire implications for fields as diverse as construction, distribution, manufacturing, health care, retail, and transportation.

The survey, conducted this spring and covering about 1,000 employees each in Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, and the US, found that 37% of these workers could be out the door within the next six months. Employees at risk of leaving fell into three similar-sized groups: those who are definitely leaving within six months, those unwilling to commit beyond six months, and those who are undecided.

That finding is sobering news for employers, which already have raised the wages of deskless workers and taken other measures to retain them during the pandemic. The reality, of course, is that employers often struggle to offer what many of these workers want: greater flexibility and the ability to work from home as so many knowledge, or desk, workers do. READ MORE

By Julia Dhar, Deborah Lovich, Chris Mattey, Nick South, Tatsuya Takeuchi, and Sebastian Ullrich


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