The future of work for non-desk workers

nondesk2 Non-desk2
New Work is currently the buzzword on everyone's lips. For the most part, however, it only refers to the everyday work of employees in the office. But what is the situation like for workers who do not have a desk, so-called non-desk workers?

New Work: The bulletin board has had its day

What does the future of work look like? This question is not only being asked by office workers, but also by all those employees who do not have a desk - so-called non-desk workers. Extensive changes are on the horizon for these workers as well, or rather, they are long overdue. Not least because sectors in which a particularly large number of non-desk workers work, such as the catering, hotel and retail industries, have been hit hard by the pandemic.

"Avoiding a "digital two-tier society

Currently, a certain division is becoming increasingly apparent in New Work: On the one hand, there are the office workers, for whom corresponding concepts are often already an integral part of everyday life and who, with the help of cloud-based solutions, can work in a largely self-determined manner, independent of location and time.

On the other hand, there are workers in the service sector who do not work at a desk but in shifts. They are not only bound by time and space, but often lack suitable IT solutions to structure their daily work efficiently.

These conditions urgently need to change, not least because non-desk workers make up the majority of employees in industries such as hotels, restaurants, logistics, healthcare and retail, and many of them are system-critical, as the pandemic proved.

Too little appreciation for non-desk workers

The lack of up-to-date IT solutions leads to problems in daily work. For example, the latest State of the Non-Desk Workforce study by Quinyx, which uses international figures to shed light on the situation of employees in the service sector, shows that around 60% of employees lack personal time for rest and relaxation due to their shift schedule or because of work requests from their employer. And it's not just this that poses health risks: around 70% have already come to work sick because they felt they couldn't afford to be absent.

High stress levels due to shift systems

These are not sustainable conditions, since employees working shifts are exposed to enormous stresses - especially in times of COVID-19. It is clear that shift systems will have to continue in the future, and not just in the healthcare and nursing sectors.

After all, in many areas it is simply indispensable to have skilled workers on duty around the clock, giving their best and helping others, for example. But such a high level of commitment can only be sustained if there is appropriate compensation. For this, employees need free time and the necessary support to enjoy a full private life.

As already mentioned, this is not a matter of course for employees working shifts: Around 61% of those surveyed in the Quinyx study state that they have already missed out on social activities or holidays with family and friends because of their job. In addition, two out of three respondents (around 64%) lack personal time, such as for their own recreation, for mental health or for playing sports.

Shift work is a back-breaking job - and needs appropriate appreciation

But it's not just the lack of free time that puts employees on shift work under pressure: from their point of view, there's also a lack of appreciation. More than one in four people surveyed in the study (28%) feel that their work is not valued.

Of these individuals, more than two-thirds (69%) believe they are perceived by their employer as a replaceable or temporary resource. Not a particularly nice place to start, especially when personal life and recreation so often fall by the wayside anyway.

Another sad aspect: more than 23% of those surveyed do not dare to swap a shift in favor of private appointments because they fear that their employer might interpret this negatively. 

Need for employers to take action with non-desk workers

There is clearly a need for action here: In addition to changes and a new thrust by policymakers, employers should also urgently pay more attention than before to ensuring that they give their employees the feeling that their work and their great commitment are noticed and valued. Salary, or appropriate payment, also plays an important role in this. Although even almost a third of employees (30%) would prefer more flexible working hours than a salary increase.

But there is also good news: Because over 40% of those surveyed nevertheless feel so comfortable in their working environment that they have no concrete thoughts of changing jobs. Employers should not rest on their laurels. After all, if the current disclosure of weaknesses in the system are not used to improve circumstances for employees in the shift system, the figure in the State of the Non-Desk Workforce report could probably be much more drastic in the coming year.

Digital tools can improve employee circumstances

This is where digital tools offer great potential for improvement. It is still common for non-desk workers to find their shift schedule on a bulletin board, for example in the break room, and have to photograph it.

This can already be done much more efficiently with today's tools. At the same time, such tools give them more flexibility: shifts can be accepted, swapped or rejected independently, and flexibility and personal responsibility over their schedules increases. This creates the basis for lower stress levels, higher motivation and greater job satisfaction.

Since a large proportion of employees do not have a PC at their workplace, it is particularly important that the tools used also work on a mobile basis. This is also what the survey results say.

The possibilities offered by digital tools for non-desk workers are not yet being fully exploited by a large proportion of companies. But this should change urgently in order to improve the working situation for these important employees - through tools that are tailored to the real situation of the employees.

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