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Productivity Is Finally Looking Up, and the Gains Could Lift Growth

The pandemic normalized WFH and accelerated adoption of new technologies such as automation, all of which could translate into a meaningful boost for GDP.

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Illustration: Jack Taylor for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Covid-19 crisis is accelerating a technology boom that has the potential to boost productivity across much of the world, spurring growth even in mature economies such as those of Europe and the U.S.

Whether in restaurant kitchens, on the factory floor, or at e-commerce fulfillment centers, the pandemic has sped the adoption of robots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies that, in theory, free workers from manual or repetitive tasks to focus on higher-value output. At the same time, cloud computing and videoconferencing software have enabled the shift to work-from-home at countless companies around the globe. That’s liberated employees from the wasteful time-suck that is the office commute and is said to be yielding dividends for businesses.