T.The impact of workforce disruption caused by the pandemic is still spreading. Many employees have not seen their offices in over a year and the challenges of getting work done while children struggle with distance learning and the irregular demands of a household can be significant.
The impact on global GDP was easy to see. In the US, the numbers were down 3.5%. The UK was down 9.9%. Spanish GDP fell by 11%
In some cases, however separated from the office floor has helped people’s productivity. And a new McKinsey study shows that we could be just before entering a golden era for performance and efficiency.
According to the report, there is potential to accelerate annual productivity growth by about one percentage point through 2024. This is more than double the prepandemic rate. In the US, that could mean a per capita increase of around $ 17,000.
“The use of technologies like digitization and automation seems to have accelerated in some companies during the pandemic,” writes McKinsey. “Under the right conditions, this can increase productivity by replacing employees, or it can help increase performance per employee.”
Long before COVID-19, there was a productivity gap between companies. But the pandemic was like a wedge separating the well-prepared from the others. A Harvard Business Review Study found that companies that were able to manage the time, talent, and energy of a limited workforce were 40% more productive than others, giving them a significant competitive advantage.
“Companies that worked together effectively and productively before the pandemic stayed productive during lockdowns and other disruptions,” write HBR’s Eric Garton and Michael Mankins. “By doing jobs at home, the time previously spent on commuting was saved and working hours were flexible so that many employees could spend additional time on their work.”
However, other workers found that they had to work longer and harder to achieve the same level of productivity. Another Harvard Study of over 3 million work-from-home employees In 16 cities around the world, the average working day rose 8.2 percent, or 48.5 minutes, in the first few weeks of the pandemic.
(This could be because companies are loading their employees with more meetings – a 13% increase per Harvard – and failing to adhere to non-working hours. In the months following the lockdown, about 8.3% more emails were sent after close than before .)
McKinsey visualized four possible scenarios for productivity in the post-COVID age. And what, if at all, will become reality is still very much in the air. At best, companies in high demand entered an era of renewal, much like North America and Europe did after World War II. At the other end of the spectrum, a lost decade.
“There are early signs of dynamic change – including accelerated digitization and investment in other technologies and reorganization – by some companies in response to the extraordinary pressures of the pandemic,” said McKinsey. “These changes, given the right conditions, could accelerate productivity growth. That would be a welcome boost that comes from the deep disruption of the pandemic. “
The pandemic has shown that under impossible conditions, companies can pan faster than they thought possible. A study last October found that companies were digitizing activities up to 25 times faster than they thought. That could lead to a boost in productivity.
So far, productivity advances have been concentrated in a handful of companies, particularly in the US. This is expected as we are only at the beginning Vaccine rollouts and the relaxation of community restrictions. However, if advances expand and demand is robust – and investment in new technology and accelerated implementation of retraining programs continues – it could spark an economic recovery.
Of course this is not certain. To enter this era of optimal productivity, companies must continue to make bold decisions precisely when there is a natural urge to return to a pre-COVID way of life. However, the rewards might be worth the mounting pain.
“Changes in consumer and business behavior under the pressure of the pandemic give hope that a more dynamic economy may emerge from the crisis – a welcome productivity dividend,” McKinsey said.
“However, business advances in potential drivers of higher productivity growth need to be more widespread, and demand needs to be robust even after the initial surge in consumption that many expect once the health crisis is effectively managed. … The audacity and speed with which businesses and governments have responded to the pandemic must now be used to achieve broad, equitable and sustainable recovery. “
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.