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The hybrid workforce will boost U.S. productivity post-pandemic by 4.6 percent with most of the gain coming from a reduction in commuting time, according to research published in April by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

After the Covid-19 pandemic ends, 20 percent of all work in the U.S. will be performed by remote workers, up from 5 percent before the virus struck, according to the paper. The researchers estimate that productivity will increase and spending in city centers will decrease compared to pre-Covid levels.

The findings are based on interviews with major employers and monthly surveys from May 2020 to March 2021 of persons aged 20–64 who earned at least $20,000 in 2019.

Respondents reported better-than-expected work-from-home experiences, along with higher productivity. According to the research, employees invested an average of 15 hours of time and $560 to upgrade their home work spaces. Employers made additional investments in cloud computing and other technology to aid remote workers.

The number of patents for technological innovations to accommodate remote work more than doubled from January to September 2020, the report found. Innovative regulatory policies, such as those allowing health workers to work remotely, will also change the post-Covid workplace, the researchers said.

The study estimates that a drop in the number of commuters will result in a 5 to 10 percent decrease in spending on meals, entertainment and personal services in city centers. Instead, business will be redirected to businesses closer to workers’ homes.

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