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Employers Weigh In on Productivity of Remote Workers

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York surveyed service sector and manufacturing firms about remote work, and how it is affecting them, asking primarily about the impact it has on productivity.

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(TNS) — New York state businesses see remote work sticking around — even if they don't always like the results.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York surveyed service sector and manufacturing firms about remote work, and how it is affecting them.

The bank asked businesses that had expanded remote work arrangements since the pandemic about how the changes had impacted productivity. Nearly 70% of service firms and just under half of manufacturers reported expanding remote work.

Service firms reported a mixed picture of productivity: 30% reported a negative effect, 20% reported a positive effect and 50% reported little change.

Among the manufacturers surveyed, 28% reported a negative effect, while 12% reported a positive impact. Sixty percent reported little change.

The survey also provided insights into how often employees work remotely, and whether employers are changing their long-term space needs.

—About 30% of service sector workers were reported to be working remotely at least part of the week, compared to just 9% pre-pandemic.

—Among manufacturers, 9% were working remotely, versus 3% before the pandemic. While remote work has become more mainstream, the format still has limitations among manufacturers. Employees involved in production still need to be on site to make tires, engines or other products.

—Service sector firms expect their percentage of remote workers to drop by only four percentage points a year from now, while manufacturers expect their share to hold steady.

—When do hybrid workers typically come in to work on site? Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were the highest-percentage days, with lower percentages for Mondays and Fridays, especially among service sector workers.

—What about their future square footage needs? Sixteen percent of service sector firms said they had reduced their footprint in response to changes they made in their remote worker arrangements, while only 7% of manufacturing firms had made such cutbacks.

And the vast majority of employers in both the service sector and manufacturing said they didn't plan to make any additional changes — whether reducing or adding square footage — in the next year or two.

© 2022 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.