Leny Chuquimia / La Paz
The Covid-19 pandemic brought a new labor and productive reality to the world. In Bolivia, there was an acceleration of digitalization with which 40% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) migrated to the hybrid-remote work modality, while 84% invested in technology during the last year.
The data is part of the study “Impact of Covid-19 on SMEs: digital acceleration and a change of paradigms”, prepared by the consulting firm Edelman for Microsoft.
“Almost two years after the pandemic, we see a clear evolution in the digital transformation processes of Bolivian SMEs. This change is evident when observing that 70% of them consider that technology will be important regardless of the work model they apply, be it face-to-face, remote or hybrid”, said the general manager of Microsoft Bolivia, Paola Vergara. She added that there is a cultural change in which technology is an important part.
“It became a competitive advantage with excellent opportunities such as cost reduction or the development of in-house applications to streamline processes,” said Vergara.
Hybrid and remote work
According to the study, currently 40% of Bolivian SMEs have adopted remote work or some hybrid modality. Specifically, 30% work 100% remotely and 10% in a hybrid way.
In both cases, 77% of companies consider mobile computing equipment as the priority technology to facilitate hybrid and remote work. It is followed by 29% of companies that put cloud storage as an important element. Larger companies also emphasize investment in software for video calls and collaborative work.
Although several SMEs migrated to these new work modalities, in the country 60% of them work in person, particularly in the smaller ones. A good part of them indicate that the main barrier to teleworking is connectivity to the internet network.
Another group that applies remote work, to a lesser extent, is that of the manufacturing, food and beverage industry.
Despite the acceleration of digitization, more than 50% of companies anticipate that once the pandemic is over they will return to a 100% face-to-face scheme, while only 5% will keep working completely remote.
They are medium-sized companies -by 40%- that expect to maintain a hybrid modality.
In all three groups they consider that in any of the modalities, technology will play a key role in the labor issue.
Changes in human resources
The digital acceleration of SMEs has not only changed the way of working, but also the way of hiring workers and the profile that is sought in them. The interviews in many cases were done remotely and in others in a hybrid way.
64% of companies hired more diverse workers. In 28% of the companies, a tendency was perceived to integrate technology nomadic talent into their staff.
“28% of the SMEs recruited workers who live abroad or in cities other than the headquarters of the companies, increasing the inclusion of the labor supply,” says the study.
This new process implied that the companies carry out training for their personnel in the handling of different technological tools. To this is added that investments were made for the technological equipment of SMEs, both in devices and in software and specialized applications.
62% of the companies indicated that they applied temporary contracts, even for hours and for projects. But 60% also noted that during the worst time of the pandemic there were staff cuts.
Likewise, out of every 10 Bolivian SMEs, three already develop their own applications. “Although most don’t do it yet, it’s an important change for a third of the market.”
Likewise, 90% indicated that their company makes decisions for its production based on data, while another 70% plan to implement technology for this purpose. Faced with this new panorama, more than 50% hired personnel specialized in data administration.
of SMEs work as
those dedicated to the field
food or manufacturing.
of companies recruited
workers living in
abroad or in cities
other than its headquarters.
The Bolivian business base grew