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Contxto – You don’t need a magic crystal ball or a fortune cookie to know. Make no mistake, remote work is here to stay. Coronavirus (Covid-19) was just the trigger.
And now, there’s no going back.
The question is, what’s the current state of affairs when it comes to remote work in Latin America? And once the pandemic eases, what will become of remote work then?
To answer these questions, I talked to Sergio Nouvel, Co-founder and CEO of HR startup, Get on Board.
Related article: 11 startups in Chile lightening the load for Human Resources
After all, who better to understand remote working than a startup that’s always operated that way?
The ongoing struggle to work remotely
For some companies and startups there was nothing too groundbreaking in this shift. And that’s because they’d previously allowed team members to work at a distance once or twice a week.
If anything, the pandemic only forced them to extend that dynamic. Perhaps they even have staff members in other parts of the globe. In consequence, the occasional Zoom or Google Hangouts call is the norm.
Meanwhile, for others, it turned into an all-out scramble to adjust. Managers frantically bought laptops so operations continue at a distance. Communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams were downloaded in a hurry.
Likewise, employees who’d been previously chained to their desks from 9 to 5, suddenly found themselves experiencing the sweet sensation of working in sweatpants.
It’s been a gradual process and what it means in the short term is fairly simple, as Get on Board’s CEO explained.
“Businesses are still adopting remote work as something that’s temporary, simply for a week or while the quarantine period lasts,” said Sergio over our call. “After which things will go back to normal.”
And for now, it’s too soon for the permanent adoption of remote work. That can be attributed to businesses still being largely focused on adapting to this dynamic, getting through the pandemic, not to mention the economic slowdown.
Nonetheless, it won’t stay this way forever.
Sometime later this year…
Particularly within a three to six month period, the CEO expects remote work dynamics will begin to shift again.
“In the medium term we expect an increasing number of businesses to adopt remote work for an enduring basis. They’ll generate job openings that are permanently at a distance,” said Sergio.
Businesses—particularly tech-related ones—will weigh their options and they may retake the remote work road once again. And that can be attributed to various reasons.
Get on Board’s CEO mentioned the following:
- Higher levels of productivity
- The need to have eyes on the ground in other parts of the globe
- Lower overhead costs
- The need to tap into other talent pools
To this I’d add that once the pandemic eases up, and things “go back to normal,” employees that get a taste and love for working from home may be less enthusiastic about returning to the office.
And consequently, they’ll seek to negotiate a permanent arrangement as remote workers.
Future trends in remote work
All managers swoon at the thought of having staff that are brilliant communicators, goal-oriented, and are able to work independently as well as in a team.
And yet not all businesses with the traditional in-office approach can achieve this level of commitment and performance because the setting doesn’t force everyone to reach these heights.
As a result, much like our beloved The Office characters, some employees pretend to work, but in reality don’t meet company milestones and are really just occupying an office desk.
Correspondingly, Get on Board’s CEO stated that businesses that master the art of remote work can expect big benefits in the long term.
Remote work will force staff to become effective communicators (since there’s no other alternative). What’s more, it means that everyone is accountable and measured by the goals they meet and not by the number of hours they’re sitting in a chair.
Ultimately, remote work is commonplace within the tech industry and in countries like the United States and Canada there’s nothing unusual about it. Meanwhile in Latin America, though the IT and tech scene is rising, remote work is still a relatively new phenomenon.
But as startups and tech companies in the region prosper, so will this approach.
And next time there’s a need for lockdown or quarantine, remote work won’t be such a hassle since businesses and employees alike are better prepared for it.
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