An Approach from Psychology to Remote Work in Cuba (I)

An Approach from Psychology to Remote Work in Cuba (I)
Fecha de publicación: 
6 June 2024
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Talking a decade ago about teleworking and remote work in Cuba was something strange, practically unknown, but above all the health crisis that came hand in hand with Covid-19 revolutionized contexts and ways of doing things in practically all aspects of life in Cuba.

Among the spaces that underwent decisive transformations was the world of work and many of the changes that took place remain for good, teleworking and remote work among them.

Now, one of the first psychological investigations on the subject reveals results on how such a job novelty for Cubans – which is no longer so new – has behaved.

“Working conditions for the performance of remote work modalities in Cuba” is the title of the study, which is part of a broader research project that includes evaluating the results of this work, as well as the skills, benefits and beliefs associated with these variants.

Published in mid last year at Cujae Industrial Engineering Magazine, and then presented this past May at the XIII International Meeting of Psychology Students, where several professors and academics also participated, the research applied a total of 28 026 questionnaires (24,035 to workers and 3,991 to managers), with an average age of 45.7 years for the former and 50 for the latter. The results were, as a trend, encouraging.

At a distance but not distant from responsibilities

In our country, the terms remote work and teleworking are often used interchangeably, which are not new concepts; but its study is relatively new.

In fact, teleworking is remote work, but not all remote work is teleworking.

According to the aforementioned research - by a group of authors among whom is Doctor in Psychological Sciences Arianne Medina Macías, Master in Labor and Organizational Psychology and Full Professor at the University of Havana -, teleworking is “that which is perform without having to be physically present in the workplace. Information and communications technologies (instant messaging, social networks, email, etc.) are the fundamental way to communicate with bosses/coworkers/users. Therefore, the exchange of information necessary to carry out the work depends on the use of technologies, although face-to-face meetings are not excluded.”

For its part, remote work “is performed by alternating physical presence at the workplace and at home. The exchange of information necessary for work depends, fundamentally, on direct communication (face to face) with bosses/coworkers/users. Information and communications technologies are not essential.”

In our country, remote work is used more than teleworking, probably due to the conditions of the technological infrastructure, the speed and capacity of Internet connection, and the fact that we don’t have all the technological resources necessary to extend the service to a greater extent, teleworking, which requires ICTs indispensably.

The conditions in which remote work modalities are developed impact the physical and mental health of the worker as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of his work. That is why scholars set out to analyze the working conditions in which this task is carried out and how it’s evaluated by employees and managers.

But beyond the context and the means of work, subjective conditions such as motivations and capabilities also contribute their part to job performance.

Among the results of the investigation, it’s noted that the environmental conditions, such as good lighting and absence of noise, were evaluated positively and mostly by workers and managers.

However, the conditions of the workplace (having a place to work at home, having a comfortable design, including the chair, having a computer with the necessary features and updated and compatible versions of programs, which the employing organization facilitate the means of work and have a fast and steady internet connection) were not valued favorably, except for having a place to work.

About 90% of workers in these modalities have their work space and time respected at home, which allows for a reconciliation of work and family life; but only in 61% of those surveyed that place is adequate and with a chair of comfortable design, with the consequent risks for the body.

37% of workers affirm that their organization provided the means of work, which is an essential condition to develop it, and this was reaffirmed to the scholars by 40% of the managers surveyed. However, 67.8% of these workers have a computer with the necessary features, which suggests that they are personal means.

Regarding having updated and compatible versions of programs necessary for work activity, 61% of workers confirmed having these, and 59% of managers confirmed this.

The most critical condition pointed out by this study is that related to a fast and steady Internet connection, which only 25.7% of these workers have, given the characteristics of the country's technological development, aggravated by the tightening of the blockade imposed to Cuba by the US government.

The investigation detected statistically significant differences between the groups of workers and managers in the respective perception of how working conditions influenced the performance of teleworkers. Both groups did agree in indicating good communication with the boss.

The surveys showed difficulties regarding the training received by workers to change to one of the remote work modalities. Only 54.7% of employees received training, and this is stated by 53% of managers. This difficulty was stated in the research, may be associated with the urgency of the change in work modality.

In general, job skills tend to be more in demand for teleworking than for remote workers.

Among the many positive points highlighted by remote workers and teleworkers, they also include that 99% of them have clear objectives and deadlines. This is subscribed to by the managers, who recognize the indicators to evaluate this work.

Also among the conditions evaluated favorably are those associated with communication, with relationships with the boss and coworkers noted as very good, and feedback with the immediate superior as systematic, as well as the planning of work tasks depending on priorities.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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