Labour official says remote work ‘here to stay’ in Barbados

Chief labour officer notes widespread reports of increased productivity among employees working at home, but suggests Caribbean region study the topic further 

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — The global trend of employees moving from their offices to their homes to work remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic could become a permanent occurrence in Barbados, according to Chief Labour Officer Claudette Hope-Greenidge.

In an exclusive interview with CaribbeanEmployment.com, Hope-Greenidge noted that remote work is highly variable, considering diverse workforces have far different operating methods, but said some offices have reported improved productivity after adopting remote working.

A man takes a phone call in his home office while working remotely.

“Remote work is not something that is new. I think that is where persons need to start from — it is not new, and it is here to stay,” she said.

She added, “It was happening before, but of course the COVID-19 pandemic required, and even actually forced, the question of moving to remote work on a much wider scale than we probably even imagined before.

“Persons, from all reports, are managing it using the technology and leveraging the technology to keep persons in employment, to keep things ticking over and to enable persons to be productive.”

Hope-Greenidge noted that “depending on the nature of your operation — it could be the demand for your business or even what type of business you are in — would more or less dictate if you come back to in-office or in-building operations 100 percent, or if you continue to use the remote work option”.

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    A woman uses video conferencing to meet with colleagues while working from home.

    “There’s some cases where productivity went up…but at the same time, you have to balance that with persons are home, they’re very comfortable in their setting and they may tend to go on for longer than they would have if they were in the building, and then you have to collect children and do other things,” the chief labour officer said.

    But Hope-Greenidge suggested that more localized data on the subject is still needed.

    “It is something that needs to be studied, really, to see what is the nexus between remote work and productivity and just where the balance is — if it is that persons are more productive because they are at home or if they are being productive because there are other functions that are not necessary because you’re at home, children are at home, everybody’s at home, so movement is limited in any case,” she said.

    “But this is something that I think needs some study maybe in the Caribbean because we shouldn’t really just rely on the extra-regional experiences.”

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