Pandemic may lead to more automation in the workplace

robot for manufacturing

A working paper from two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco illustrates how the Coronavirus pandemic may accelerate the trend towards automation of some workplaces:

“Workers can be exposed to health risks, and social distancing measures can reduce labor productivity by hindering the ability to work. But robots do not get sick,” Leduc and Liu wrote in the paper, posted on the San Francisco Fed’s website on May 8. “If a production process can be automated, a firm can use a robot instead of a worker to perform some risky tasks. In this sense, automation provides a hedge against job uncertainty stemming from the pandemic.”

Of course this trend has been going on for years, particularly in manufacturing. And in some cases, we’ve seen that automation sometimes creates new problems. It’s not always a silver bullet, but the chaos caused by this pandemic will certainly lead to more companies investigating ways to replace humans with machines in the workplace.


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