Remote working unfeasible for lower middle class and poor Brazilians

Less than 20% of those from less privileged backgrounds have managed to work from home through the Covid-19 pandemic; digital models are playing a key role in education and consumption of goods, according to a new study.

Only a small proportion of less privileged Brazilians are managing to work from home ion the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Internet has played a key role in transforming education and consumption habits within that population, according to a new study.

The study carried out by Brazil-based mobile solutions firm Go2Mob and PR agency FirstCom with over 4,500 individuals in early March 2020 refers to the class C and D from the Brazilian socioeconomic class system. The structure ranges from the elite (class A), the upper-middle class (class B), the lower middle class (class C), the working-class poor (class D) and the extremely poor and unemployed (class E).

Remote working is far from the reality of the majority of the lower middle class and working class poor population in Brazil, the study noted: only 17,5% of Brazilians from the classes C and D who have managed to maintain their jobs over the last 12 months - over 14 million Brazilians are currently unemployed - have claimed to be able to work from home through the crisis.

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Of those working remotely, 61,9% plan to continue doing so after the pandemic is under control. Separate research by FIA Business School has found the majority of Brazilian companies is not subsidizing costs associated to remote working: only 9% are helping with Internet bills, while 7% are paying for telephone costs.

Among the participants of the Go2Mob/FirstCom study, 26.1% are parents of school-age children. Of these, 89.1% said their children have not yet returned to school. As for distance learning in Brazil, 67.1% stated their children are studying online, and 79.2% confirmed that children have been able to continue studying that way. Some 31% said their teenage children have stopped or intend to stop studying in order to work and boost the household income through the crisis.

About 4 million Brazilians aged between 6 and 34 abandoned their studies in 2020, according to a separate study by C6 Bank and Datafolha, the abandonment rate was higher among the classes D and E and 20% cited difficulties in following remote education as one of the main reasons for deciding to abandon studies.

Moreover, digital exclusion is still a reality for many Brazilians. Research carried out by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) has found that more than 20 million households, predominantly those within poorer segments of society, are digitally excluded.

Due to the restrictions imposed by governments to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, 34.2% of those polled by Go2Mob/FirstCom said they have started or increased the purchase of products over the Internet. Within that group, 84.3% said they made online purchases through their smartphone while 15.7% bought goods online through computers. Even after the end of the pandemic, 82.4% intend to continue shopping over the Internet.

The Brazilian e-commerce segment has grown 41% in 2020, generating the equivalent of 87.4 billion reais ($ 15.1 billion), the best performance since 2007, according to the Webshoppers study conducted by consultancy Ebit/Nielsen in partnership with Brazilian fintech Bexs. About 55% of those purchases were carried out through smartphones.