Coronavirus: Working from home could lead to productivity boost - tech expert

There's hope from some that New Zealand will experience a change in how people work long after the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As the country is forced to stay home, companies have had to experiment with working remotely.

But NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says it could be a great productivity boost for the economy.

"Where companies are less rigid about the fact you have to be at your desk at 9am, [it] maximises productivity as a country which is not having people sit on motorways all the time," he told Newshub.

Muller said it could spark a permanent change. However, it will take some time getting used to.

"Many people will find it difficult to work from home - family and other disruptions - but for a large number, now that they've done it they'll go, 'Why don't I do it more often?'

"You need to be able to separate home and work life otherwise you get work creep, and the whole thing becomes not a very good experience."

While working from home might boost productivity for certain businesses, others who are not classed as essential services and unable to work remotely are likely to be the worst affected. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said the economic downturn from COVID-19 will be worse than the 2008 global financial crisis.

Westpac's chief economist Dominick Stephens, meanwhile, said the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown could cause up to 200,000 workers to be laid off.

"I do think individual arrangements with very large firms are going to be required, and it remains to be seen what those will be," he said.

The Government has so far paid out $2.7 billion in wage subsidies to keep income coming for 428,000 workers.