Hybrid work predominates in Latin America, but companies tend to increase office attendance

A JLL study shows that 72% of companies opt for a flexible model, but face challenges in relation to people management.

April 30, 2024
  • Agência Tecere

Latin America is the region that most adopts hybrid work in the world, with 72% of companies using the model. This index reaches 54% in the area that encompasses Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 44% in Asia-Pacific and 41% in North America. In Brazil, the number is even higher, with 86% opting for the flexible system. This is what the study Future of work: Models for the workplace in Latin America, by JLL, shows.

“In the pre-pandemic period, hybrid work in Latin America was still something experimental, generally a global guideline for large companies and restricted to one or two days a week outside the office. Today, this reality has changed. The transition to more flexible models has been widely adopted by companies of all sectors, sizes and origins”, says Andreza Silva, Workplace and Change Management leader at JLL.


The future of work: Workplace policies in Latin America

Discover the results of the survey conducted with about 300 companies in 13 Latin American countries about their work schemes in this report.

The research shows that in-person work in the office showed a huge decline after the pandemic, falling from 66% to 19%. The hybrid, in turn, practically tripled, going from 26% to 72%. Totally remote work did not show much variation, going from 8% to 10%.

This is the first study on work models in Latin America. Until then, there was no information at a regional level that would allow companies to have access to a perspective on their initiatives to guide the strategic decisions of owners and investors. The information was collected at the end of 2023, in 13 countries, among 289 HR and financial managers from companies with a presence in Latin America. The sample includes local, regional and global companies from more than nine sectors of the economy.

The most popular hybrid work model, used by 29% of companies, comprises two days of office work combined with three remote days per week. This model is particularly popular among companies with more than 750 employees, multinationals and companies in the financial and insurance and technology and telecommunications sectors. Brazil stands out with 45% of companies operating under this regime. Four years ago, the most popular hybrid model was just one remote day a week.

Challenges of hybrid work involve managing people and spaces

Despite the current predominance of hybrid work, the study shows that the issue is not resolved. This is because half of the companies surveyed plan to change their work model: 3% of them will migrate to a more remote model, 36% are yet to define it, while 12% will incorporate more working days in the office. Of this last group, 70% are companies that currently operate in hybrid models with two or three remote days per week.

Hybrid work brings several challenges for companies, especially in relation to people and space management. The most common is low attendance at offices, which affects one in four companies in Latin America. This may be attributed to a lack of tools to measure and incentivize attendance, especially in hybrid models. Identifying new employees who fit into the company's culture and retaining talent completes the list of the three main challenges.

“Most organizations do not know how to deal with this flexibility or how to generate employee identification with the corporate culture in a non-face-to-face way. In this way, they consider a return to face-to-face or an increase in face-to-face days as the only solution to such problems, without actually evaluating what opportunities there are to work on organizational culture and engage employees, even remotely. The answer to this question directly impacts talent retention and should not be ignored”, says the JLL specialist.

While companies are still trying to figure out how to answer this question, employees are demanding more flexibility. In 53% of companies, employees have a say in the number and choice of days they come into the office. On the other hand, in 85% of companies that operate in a face-to-face model, the decision is made by the employer.

Changes in the work model lead to changes in negotiations

An increase in the frequency of in-person work and therefore higher average occupancy could drive demand for office space, especially in the most attractive buildings in each market. In a new paradigm in which incentives for office presence are fundamental for companies, the quality and location of buildings are essential. Therefore, although hybrid models suggest a lower average office occupancy, the spaces must have other attractions.

“When designing the work model, one should not just think about attendance rules, but about how the company encourages employees to do well at work, whether remote or in the office, without generating stress and demotivation. This means new offices must encourage well-being. However, there is no single formula. It is important to continually measure the frequency of people, the use of spaces and the profile of their talents to find the most appropriate solution, also knowing that within the same company each area may have different needs. This analysis involves workplace strategy and change management. This way, it is possible to ensure that resources are not underused while others are overused”, says Andreza.

According to Roberto Patiño, director of Integrated Portfolio Services at JLL, changes in the work model also lead to changes in property negotiations.

“The metrics have changed. Previously, a number of square meters per person was calculated considering that they sat at their desks. Today, this is not what is expected. More square meters per person are needed because they are not restricted to their desks, they are circulating in integrative spaces, despite there being fewer people at the same time. It is necessary to remake the space, knowing that it is increasingly temporary. Companies no longer want long contracts of 5 years, as was common. These are smaller contracts, lasting 12 months, with preference for spaces that are already furnished”, he states.

The decline in face-to-face work in the office represents a challenge, but also a great opportunity. This is a unique moment to evaluate, honestly and based on data, what is the best work strategy for employees, aligned with the interests of the business.

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