Bogotá’s productivity issue?!


At a Farm in Sesquile

Yeah! Work?! What are you talking about? At a Farm in Sesquilé

Yes! Today’s another public holiday in Colombia! To those who are curious, today is the holiday of The Three Kings for the catholics. As mentioned, we get so many Monday bank holidays that Colombians have stopped asking what the holiday’s for. With so many holidays you can imagine it’s hard to get any work done! There have been recent debates about how a 4-day work week can be more productive. Though this is not the case here, in my view it is not really the main drag of productivity in Colombia..

It’s really hard to achieve high productivity in Bogotá if you just look at the time workers have to spend on the road! Let’s make it simple and not talk about work ethics, time spent around the water cooler or time lost in calling, texting, and emailing for answers.. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about what Colombians get up to on their work days from my clients. It’s crazy. A lawyer spends 1 hour travelling from the office to the factory (about 10 km), and 1 hour back! That’s 1/4 of the day gone! A geophysicist covers about the same distance in the same amount of time to and from the ministry of environment. Another lawyer also loses 2 hours every time she goes from the office to the Court of Justice.. The same happens to an economist for the trips to the Central Bank.

And this is just hours spent during work time. What about commuting? Most office workers spend 2-3 hours a day. That’s 31 days permanently lost in a 50-week labour year! Gone. Most grassroots spend even 3-4 hours a day on the road between the rich Bogota (estrato 6, where the money is, and therefore where the work is) and the satellite towns like Soacha and Usme that weren’t part of Bogotá per se but with urban sprawling have been gobbled up by the city. Imagine what these people can get done?!

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