Remote work gains ground in Cuba amid Covid-19 pandemic


HAVANA: Yeni Hechavarria, a 34-year-old interpreter and translator who used to commute from her house on the outskirts of the Cuban capital to her workplace in the city’s entertainment district, has changed her routine after the Covid-19 outbreak.

Like her, thousands of Cuban state employees have to stay at home to minimise the risk of contracting the virus at workplace, as the island nation strives to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus nationwide.

Hechavarria, who usually interacted with nearly 20 people at the office, now only talks with her father, mother and 93-year-old grandmother during a working day in the busy neighbourhood she lives in.

As her computer is now just two meters away from her bed, she can start translating texts from Spanish into English while having breakfast, or taking a shower during a 15-minute break.

“Now, I can use my time and organise my workload in a better way,” she said. “Although I miss socialising with my workmates, I would like to continue working from home in the future.”

Cuba reported 937 new confirmed Covid-19 cases and four more deaths on Saturday, bringing the national counts to 43,484 and 291, respectively.

As February has become the worst month regarding Covid-19 infections since the onset of the pandemic in Cuba in March last year, the Cuban government has encouraged working remotely to reduce the movement of people throughout the country.

Meanwhile, measures have been taken for essential workers to meet physical distancing guidelines and Covid-19 protocols at the “new normal” offices and workplaces.

Since January, some 42,590 people have engaged in remote work in the country’s capital, the epicenter of the pandemic on the island, Ivet Moya Pupo, head of Labor and Social Security in Havana, told local media.

“Remote work does not mean employees are out of control while staying home,” she said, adding that people’s access to information and communication technologies is fundamental for the fulfillment of different tasks.

At present, there are more than six million Internet users in Cuba, accounting for more than 50% of the country’s 11 million inhabitants.

For Isis Cuesta, who teaches at an academic center subordinated to Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment, working from home has also been a positive experience.

The 38-year-old said that although she misses catching up with friends and colleagues after work, now she has a more flexible schedule without worries about bus connections to get to class on time.

“I am now working on preparing an online course,” she told Xinhua. “Remote work is something that also gives people more opportunities to take care of their house chores. I truly believe it is here to stay.” – Xinhua



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