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Remote work more present in Brazil’s public service

. Aug 09, 2020
Remote work more present in Brazil's public service Image: Graphic farm/Shutterstock

The pandemic has changed working habits around the world, potentially forever. Millions were put on remote work, fearing contagion in the workplace or on their daily commute. This was no different in Brazil, despite the country’s messy and half-hearted response to the virus’ spread. But according to official data, while private-sector employees have now begun to return to in-person work, public servants were increasingly sent to work from home.

</p> <p>Analysis carried out by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) showed that 2.9 million public servants worked remotely in June, 200,000 more than the previous month. Meanwhile, 224,000 <em>fewer</em> private-sector employees worked from home in the same period.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3400093" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/3400093/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> has shown that <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-weekly/2020/07/20/the-future-for-work-in-brazil-seems-to-be-remote/">remote work might be here to stay</a>. A survey by Mercer found that 91 percent of companies plan to keep employees performing administrative tasks working from home — even after offices are allowed to open again. In Brazil, the transformation is being led by the private sector, but the public sector wants in on the act too.&nbsp;</p> <p>Between March and May, the <a href="https://www.gov.br/pt-br/noticias/financas-impostos-e-gestao-publica/2020/07/governo-economiza-quase-r-200-milhoes-com-trabalho-remoto">government</a> said it saved nearly BRL 200 million as a result of employees working remotely. The largest reduction was in expenses on national and international travel. In April, the Economy Ministry was by far and away the cabinet ministry with the <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/04/27/covid-19-affected-federal-servants-brazil/">most employees working from home</a>: nearly 26,000.</p> <h2>Not fulfilling potential</h2> <p>Ipea researchers found that nearly 21 million workers are able to conduct their activities remotely in Brazil. Of this total, 72 percent are from the public sector. However, the actual results for the month of June show the contrary, with the civil service&#8217;s remote working potential far from being fulfilled. Less than 25 percent of public servants are fulfilling their duties at home, with that rate dropping to just 8 percent for the private sector.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3423109" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/3423109/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p>When breaking down the private sector into categories — agriculture, industry, commerce and services — researchers found that all sectors are underperforming in their potential to promote remote work.</p> <p>Trends are not necessarily nationwide, however, and we see different patterns as we move across Brazil. Brasília and the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe saw an uptick in employees working from home, while Amazonas, Alagoas, and Amapá had more and more people returning to in-person work, according to Ipea data.

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Laís Martins

Laís Martins is a Brazilian journalist pursuing a master's degree in Media and Globalization. Her coverage is focused on politics, human rights, and society. Previously, she worked for Reuters Brasil.

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