Productivity stats: Industry divide, WFH impact – comment

Following ONS statistics this morning finding that the UK’s productivity is unsurprisingly at its lowest growth rate since 2009, Andrew Duncan, UK CEO at Infosys Consulting. said: “We must remember that quarterly movements in labour productivity can be volatile, and may not be representative of long-term trends, like growth, in the UK. There has been a fear that the global work-from-home movement, intended to maintain output and efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic, could actually generate a worldwide productivity slump. But from what we’ve seen so far, there is significant variation in the impact on productivity from COVID-19 across industries. This divide is likely to grow in the second half of 2020.

“Sectors like entertainment, construction, food, hospitality and retail have faced the brunt of the impact, and getting back to pre-COVID-19 levels of productivity will be a slow and arduous process as consumers slowly ease out of lockdown. However, for those in the business services sector, we’ve seen the shift to virtual and remote working increase productivity, with many employees given the autonomy to work flexibly and better juggle their work and home lives. As a result, many businesses will make the permanent shift to digital remote working models, with an ‘anywhere, anytime’ mindset. This increasingly digital workforce will naturally bring about a shift in measuring and incentivising success – and there will be a readjustment in productivity measurements across industries globally.

“The adoption of robotics and automation will likely be a critical driver of productivity growth in the post COVID-19 economy. Rather than replacing jobs, these advancements will automate tasks, augment jobs and create new ones – but it will rely on equipping the workforce with the skills and the tools they need to cope with automation. This will demand close collaboration with industry, government and educational resources, and in the future, we can expect to see governments strongly encourage corporate investment in training in these areas.”