Updated 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Is Latin America ready for a future of remote work culture?

Remote work, telework, home office, virtual work or telecommuting: call it what you want, but the fact of the matter is this new work modality is already widespread in countries such as the United States. But how are countries in the Latin American region shifting their work culture in this direction, and can they ever expect to catch up?

The growing usage rates of mobile and social networks are changing employee expectations of how, when, and where they consume, contribute, or share information. Meanwhile, technology shifts from fixed hardware toward software and services-centric solutions have enabled accelerated product life cycles and continuous agile solution development. Many organizations have been unable to control the influences of change stemming from these factors.

Employee-driven Dynamics

We have been experiencing the changing dynamics of the workforce with work becoming more employee driven. This is producing a demand for deep restructuring to ensure businesses value and support their employees. Future workers will be less commoditized given that they will now be more valued. Furthermore, the rise in the genY (generation Y or Millennials, or those born between 1980 and 1997) population will encourage the evolution of the technology landscape in the direction of a constantly engaged business world.

According to a Frost & Sullivan report, The Latin American Path to the New Way to Work, Millennials will comprise an estimated 31% of Latin America’s population by 2025, while those aged 65 and older will comprise 10.5% (compared with 6.9% in 2010). Social collaboration tools will be bare essentials and mobile enterprise technologies of the future will be more user friendly, with more emphasis on quick multi-platform access to business content and data.

Advanced Technologies

Web 2.0 technologies, such as webinars, Skype, Twitter, and blogs, have already become mainstream, with most firms starting to incorporate them into their work cultures. The future is all about video communication gaining significant importance. This will result in a large chunk of the workforce being less functional in traditional offices. As such, leading collaboration solutions providers are considering Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) and personalization trends when developing or delivering products and services, as well as solutions to address user demand. In parallel, they are also focused on the business’s concerns regarding the global, distributed organization, the challenges of technology complexity, and security, compliance and control.

Latin America’s Remote Future

Virtual work is already a global labor trend, one not to lose sight of. For Latin America’s growing cities, it has the potential to provide a great relief to daily traffic, which in turn will reduce the growing pollution levels in places like Mexico City and Sao Paulo. While in Latin America the concept of working remotely or telecommuting is less widespread than in Europe or the United States, awareness of this new modality of work is starting to take shape.

In order to provide legal support for this type of modality, several initiatives have been taking place in the region over the last three or four years. In Colombia, the Ministry of Labor has estimated there are 50,000 teleworkers today, and estimates this to reach 120,000 in 2018. In the case of Argentina, Viviana Díaz, Coordinator for the Telework area in the Ministry of Labor, revealed in 2015 that after 12 years of management for this type of work, Argentina has seen significant results. In 2004, the country had 320,000 home offices, but this figure grew to around 2 million by 2014. In Brazil, on the other hand, several companies such as Ticket, Oi, and TOTVS have already implemented this modality of work internally, which has resulted in important productivity increases and cost reductions.

With future collaboration techniques likely to generate tremendous value, business leaders will be more proactive to ensure that their decision aligns with the changing needs of the today’s market, allowing their organizations to sustain themselves in the market of tomorrow. Incorporating solutions for the new way to work will result in improved interactions, thereby facilitating quicker decision making processes with employees able to collaborate, communicate, and connect like never before.

How often do you work away from your office? Is your company providing the tools for you to do so? Let us know in the comments below.

Near Shres Americas | Maiara Munhoz