The Good and Bad of Remote Working in a Latin America Rocked by Coronavirus
Seemingly overnight, the offices all over the world turned off their lights and sent employees home to work. This shift led to many positive, but also negative realizations about remote work.
The Challenges of Remote Working in Latin America (LATAM)
While remote working has existed for decades and seen massive success in the US and Europe, implementation has been a challenge in LATAM. Some managers believe that employees can’t work efficiently from home without supervision, and that their projects will suffer. And many believe that it might work in the US and Europe, “but it won’t work here”. The logic behind the reluctance to remote work in the region isn’t unique to LATAM. However, these beliefs aren’t flipped overnight.
Pros of Remote Working
- Work-life balance – Freed from commutes and being stuck so far from home, workers can be more flexible with their work and home life. This is beneficial for workers, but also the business. A study by the University of Oxford shows that happier employees are 13% more productive.
- Productivity – Without the distractions of a noisy office environment, people can drill down and focus on their work. While many senior managers believe that people are more productive in the office, the evidence doesn’t back this up. It’s estimated that, on average, just 2.8 hours of the office workday is spent on productive tasks.
- Cost savings – Workers save money on the cost of travel (fuel or public transport), as well as ad hoc purchases throughout the day (food, coffee). Businesses cut costs by saving on rent, maintenance, and electricity.
The Cons of Remote Working
- Work-life balance – While under normal circumstances, people can enjoy a better work-life balance from remote working, this is proving challenging during a pandemic. With restrictions on mixing, and schools in several regions also going remote, the whole family is at home and distractions are common.
- Less collaboration – Collaboration often happens naturally in offices. People wander from desk to desk, and ideas are sparked and shared. This type of random collaboration doesn’t happen when people are separated, and communication is often more formal (dedicated meetings).
- Cybersecurity – Businesses have to account for the WiFi networks of all remote employees, among other factors. This can be a significant undertaking for small businesses or ones with a small IT function.
Will Workers in LATAM Continue to Work Remotely in the Future?
Yes, remote working will likely become more common in LATAM, and especially for technology workers. Technology workers in LATAM have a diverse set of skills, with over 60% of remote developers identifying as Back-End or Full-Stack developers. The tech industry accounted for 10% of all remote work in South America before the pandemic, making it one of the most prominent remote working sectors.
There is also a growing number of coders in latin America, and these coders are primed to disrupt the global technology market. The coding hubs in Buenos Aires, Medellin, Mexico, and Belo Horizonte represent a growing number of highly skilled coders. With the demand for digital growth and a scarcity of skilled workers in the US, we expect that tech workers in LATAM will continue to rise.
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