Sociologist Alex Wood says flexible scheduling creates 'real nightmare' for workers

Many of the workers considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic were already under a "huge amount of stress" before the outbreak due to the proliferation of flexible scheduling, sociologist Alex Wood told Hill.TV.

“They’ll be given their schedule maybe a week before, and then will have to live with that schedule,” said Wood, a lecturer in the sociology of work at the University of Birmingham. “It kind of really was a real nightmare for people.”

He said that around 20 percent of American workers face flexible scheduling and that unstable schedules leave workers with difficult decisions in their home and social lives.

Wood’s book, “Despotism on Demand: How Power Operates in Flexible Workplaces,” published in May, explores how instability in work schedules gives managers another means of control over employees.

“People were having to decide whether to go to work to earn money for their family, or provide childcare for their children,” he told Hill.TV. “People couldn’t plan their social lives — somebody who I spoke to wanted to be able to play baseball but it was impossible for him to commit. He never knew what his hours were going to be.”

“It just caused a huge amount of stress, insecurity, and anxiety for workers,” Wood added. “They’re really at the whims of their managers.”