Remote working and distance education skyrocket in Latin America

. Sep 13, 2020
remote work latin america Photo: Shutterstock

During the first months of lockdown, the world was paralyzed or dramatically slowed down physically, but not virtually. According to the latest study the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) made about the need for universalizing access to digital technologies to address the consequences of the pandemic, website traffic, and the use of applications for remote working or distance learning, there was a tremendous increase in the use of digital platforms. 

Between the first and second quarters of 2020, remote work surged by 324 percent while distance education rose more than 60 percent in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. All providers of collaboration and video conferencing platforms benefitted from the immense rise in users.

</p> <p>Zoom, for instance, confirmed on August 31 that it was one of the biggest corporate winners from the coronavirus crisis, as the video conferencing service reported a surge in new business in the three months to the end of July. It reported second-quarter revenues of USD 663.5 million, up 355 percent from last year. Since the start of the pandemic, the platform has been working on converting the mass of free users into paying customers.</p> <p>But in general usage of Zoom is impressive: it has grown from 10 million daily meeting participants per day in December 2019 to some 300 million in April 2020. Also, daily active users of its mobile app are up an astonishing 1,761-percent year-on-year and 799 percent over the previous quarter. New installations are up 319 percent over the second quarter of 2020.</p> <p>Zoom told LABS that in Brazil, it saw a 31-fold growth in free users signing-up in April compared to January 2020, while the number of paying customers with more than 10 employees in the country tripled. In Mexico, over the same period, there was a 49-fold growth in the number of free users signing-up, and the number of paying customers with more than 10 employees doubled.&nbsp;</p> <p>Overall, Zoom has seen an increase in paying customers, according to its latest quarterly report, with approximately 370,200 businesses clients with more than 10 employees, an increase of approximately 458 percent from the same quarter during the last fiscal year. And the number of large customers — those generating more than USD 100,000 in revenue in the past year – more than doubled to 988 during the fiscal second quarter.</p> <h2>Google Cloud partnered up with Latin American businesses and organizations</h2> <p>Google Meet reached a peak of over 600 million video conferencing participants during a single week globally in the quarter ending in June. At the end of April, according to the company, 2 million new users were connecting to Google Meet daily, spending over 2 billion minutes together — which equates to more than 3,800 years of meetings in a single day. And, of course, it&#8217;s not just about work: 41 percent of people increased the frequency of conversation with friends and family, according to a Google Cloud survey.</p> <p>The search-engine giant cites several cases that demonstrate how its Cloud division kept Latin American businesses and organizations connected and running during the most severe periods of quarantines and lockdowns.</p> <p>Before the government encouraged remote work across the country, one of Mexico&#8217;s largest insurance companies, the National Provincial Group (GNP), implemented a strict home-based policy. The company has developed a series of new procedures and practices in which 6,700 employees use Google Meet for video conferences and G Suite&#8217;s collaboration features.</p> <p>In Peru, the Judiciary has used Google Meet to continue operating during quarantines. Mexico&#8217;s Milenio Televisión chose Google Meet to continue broadcasting some of its main TV shows away from its studios. And in Brazil, early in the pandemic, São Paulo&#8217;s Hospital das Clínicas partnered up with Google and Loud Voice Services to develop a voice assistant that manages appointments, exams, and medicines stocks using solutions such as Dialogflow and Speech API.&nbsp;</p> <p>With the increasing demand for these services, the company announced in June a new Google Cloud region in Santiago — which would be the company’s second region in Latin America, after São Paulo. &#8220;In this new region, companies from around the world will be better able to reach their users in Latin America&#8221;, said Google Cloud’s president for Latin America, Eduardo López.</p> <h2>Remote work: Microsoft beefs up Teams</h2> <p>The number of calls made using Microsoft’s Teams video conferencing software surged by 1,000 percent in March as people collaborated online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teams users also generated more than 5 billion meeting minutes in a single day in the second quarter of 2020.&nbsp;</p> <p>&#8220;Microsoft Teams is helping people be together, even when they are apart. It’s the only solution with meetings, calls, chat, content collaboration with Office, and business process workflows — in a secure, integrated user experience&#8221;, said Satya Nadella, Microsoft&#8217;s CEO, during the company&#8217;s latest quarterly earnings conference call.</p> <p>Sixty-nine organizations have more than 100,000 users of Teams, and over 1,800 enterprises have more than 10,000 users of the platform.</p> <p>Here are some of the trends among Latin Americans using Microsoft tools: in Mexico, 41 percent of the calls use video; in Chile, the rate sits at 52 percent. These are lower rates than in Norway and the Netherlands, for example, where they reach 60 percent, but higher than the U.S. (38%), France (37%), and Singapore (26%). &#8220;The cultural aspect will always be relevant in how much people want to expose themselves&#8221;, Loredane Feltrin, director of Modern Workplace at Microsoft Latin America, told LABS.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p class="has-text-align-center"><a href=""><em>This article on remote work was originally published on LABS – Latin America Business Stories, a news platform covering business, technology, and society in the region for an English-speaking audience.</em></a></p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href=" "><img loading="lazy" width="1024" height="124" src="" alt="" class="wp-image-41934" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 1320w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></a></figure> <p>

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João Paulo Pimentel

João Paulo Pimentel is an editor at LABS. A journalist from Curitiba, Brazil, covering technology and business since 2004, he studied Media & Digital Communications at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and has worked as an editor and executive editor at local news outlets.

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