Colombia has largely maintained a traditional work culture, with a few firms innovating and experimenting with remote working arrangements; but as in the rest of the world, the COVID pandemic has accelerated a move to offer remote work at least as an option, says the country’s Ministry of Technology, Information & Communications (MinTIC).
Last year, during the first peak of the COVID Pandemic, President Ivan Duque ordered all companies that could arrange work-from-home options for employees to do so. Mintic this week released statistics saying that last year, 209,173 employees became remote workers, an increase of 71% compared to 2018 when only 122,278 workers logged in from home. The number is surely low, as many knowledge workers, confectionery (sewing) workers, freelancers, and informal workers remain uncounted.
The Penetration and Perception of Telework study was presented Wednesday of last week by Vice-Minister of Digital Transformation Iván Durán, who said: “The world has changed, and the way of working will not be the same as it was before the pandemic. People will return to the offices, but it is clear that there will be a more flexible dynamic, as companies realized that people can be productive by being at home and managing their time.”
91% of the companies surveyed responded that they adopted remote work, as it was the only option during the health emergency caused by covid-19.
The main cities that adopted teleworking were Bogotá with 157,417 teleworkers; followed by Medellín with 26,569; Barranquilla with 9,213; Cali with 5,421, and Bucaramanga with 3,467 people. The document also detailed that during 2020 six out of 10 companies were in the process of adopting teleworking, representing 56% of the sample and with an increase of one percentage point compared to the result of 2018.
In 2020, 25% of companies were doing pilot tests for the implementation of teleworking, while in 2018 the figure was 22% and in 2014 it was 21%. Similarly, 91% of the companies surveyed responded that they adopted remote work, as it was the only option during the health emergency caused by covid-19.
During 2020, four out of 10 companies were willing to migrate to the formal teleworking model, while before the pandemic seven out of 10 companies had not considered adopting teleworking. In addition, the study revealed that of the companies that have not implemented teleworking, only three out of 10 would be willing to adopt it in the next 2 years, mainly due to their economic activity.
“Remote work, in its different modalities, has transformed the lives of workers and companies; it has been a resource that has allowed many companies not to go bankrupt. It has also served as an impetus for them to move towards digital and a more flexible use of time. In fact, the study shows that, within companies, the administrative and financial areas doubled their adoption of telework between 2018 and 2020, going from 44% to 80%,” said Durán.
Photo courtesy MinTIC