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Hiring remotely? Why U.S. companies should hire LatAm talent

Hiring remotely? Why U.S. companies should hire LatAm talent

 The four most compelling reasons American firms choose to source skilled staff remotely from Latin American companies are lower salary costs, minimal language barriers, cultural similarities and similar time zones. These factors combine to make sourcing from Latin American countries very appealing for North American companies.

American firms and startups wanting to grow their companies quickly with experienced and talented staff can benefit from sourcing skilled candidates from Latin American locations - all prepared to work remotely. Latin America has lower labor costs compared with European countries and the United States. These lower labor costs however do not necessarily translate into a lower quality of worker. Quite the opposite in fact.

The CEO and Founder of BairesDev & BDev Ventures, Nacho De Marco remarked that:

“The United States and Europe are recognizing the talent of the software engineers in Latin America and acknowledging them as peers. I’ve already seen the start of a technological revolution across Buenos Aires, Santiago and Mexico City, and I have faith this will not only revitalize our industries and set a higher bar for our new generations, but also show the world what Latin America can do and what talent and hard work can achieve.”

In this article, we will walk you through some of the basics to get you started nearshoring from Latin America.

Which countries are part of Latin America?

Latin America refers to a grouping of countries in the Americas where a romance language (which is derived from Latin) is spoken. This includes countries speaking Spanish, Portuguese, French or a creole version of any of these. Latin American countries therefore include Mexico, most of Central and South America and countries in the Caribbean - such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico - even though it is an American territory is also traditionally included. 

Generally speaking, Latin America includes countries which were once part of the Americas colonized by the Spanish, Portuguese or the French. 

For the purposes of this article we consider the following countries to be included as part of Latin America:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia, Brazil
  • Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica & Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador & El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe & Guatemala
  • Haiti & Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama, Paraguay, Peru & Puerto Rico
  • Saint Barthelemy & Saint Martin
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

When you choose to nearshore in a Latin American location you can be assured of a comparable infrastructure (particularly digitally), a convenient time zone and cost-effective pricing structures. You will also find awesome workers with a North American work ethic who are keen to jump onboard American entrepreneurial ventures.

The youthful demographic in most of these countries also means you can tap into some of the best talent to help grow your business. Many of these countries also are relatively politically stable which makes succession planning and change management easier to balance.

What kinds of salaries should I be expected to pay my remote Latin American staff?

Companies seeking to nearshore from Latin American countries will first want to understand what the salary expectations of their remote staff will be. The following graph shows minimum monthly salaries paid to a range of different Latin American countries - with the values expressed in US dollars.

Image sourceImage alt text: Minimum monthly wage in selected Latin American countries in 2021 in U.S. dollars)

You can see from the graph above that hiring remote staff from Chile will cost more than say Brazil or Mexico. Chile is the Latin American country with the highest minimum monthly wage of this grouping of countries. Venezuela has one of the lowest wages and this may be linked to the ongoing economic woes of that country which suffered hyperinflation over the past few years.

Despite this, your hiring decisions should never be based purely on the cost of hiring. Rather you should be focused on getting the best candidate for your business. Almost every Latin American country has minimum wage provisions in their constitutions and while these vary considerably - as an employer you should match or better those rates. In addition, while many US firms can pay lower than they would in the US job market, it’s considered good practice to offer candidates higher salaries than in the local Latin American markets to attract and retain talented staff longer term.

Many employers advertising on Near are also offering salaries comparable to those found in the North American market ranging from $50K a year to more than $150K - which is significantly more than the monthly figures shown in the graph above. 

If you want to understand more about how to effectively hire using Near - check out our short video explaining how to get started. At Near, we can help you find skilled professionals across the following categories:

  • Software engineering
  • Finance and accounting
  • Sales and marketing
  • Design
  • Data
  • Product and project management
  • Account management; and
  • Customer success

Image sourceImage alt text: Skyline of Bogota, Colombia

Hiring from Latin America means less of a language barrier

Another compelling reason American companies decide to find talented remote workers in Latin American countries is because many of the available candidates already have a good working knowledge of English. Most young Latin Americans learn English at school and countries like Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil have all surpassed countries like China and India in English language proficiency.

Also many American companies have staff fluent in Spanish because of the proximity to Mexico and the fact that Spanish is almost considered a second language in North America. Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Latin America, closely followed by Portuguese (which has similarities to Spanish).

Latin American countries (there are 26) are those where languages spoken are derived from Latin and most commonly include Spanish, French or Portuguese. Young millennials and skilled professionals in these countries will have intermediate to advanced English language skills as well.

Over the past decade, dramatic educational improvements across Latin America have produced a generation of highly educated and tech-savvy professionals. The cultural similarities between North America and Latin America also make professional relationships much easier than dealing with remote workers in countries like China or India where the language and cultural barriers - not to mention the time zones - can complicate the working relationships.

Making the most of time zones by nearshoring in Latin America

American firms wanting to nearshore in Latin America can enjoy comparable time zones. What this means essentially is that if your DevOps software engineer needs to be contacted to fix a major bug in your system - you won’t be pestering your staff in the middle of the night to remedy the problem.

In the US there are nine standard time zones across the 50 states which are defined by their relationship to Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC). This is the primary global time standard which replaces the old standard of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The nine standard time zones in the USA (measured from east to west) are:

  • Atlantic Standard Time (AST)
  • Eastern Standard Time (EST)
  • Central Standard Time (CST)
  • Mountain Standard Time (MST)
  • Pacific Standard Time (PST)
  • Alaskan Standard Time (AKST)
  • Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time (HST)
  • Samoan Standard Time (UTC-11)
  • Chamorro Standard Time (UTC+10).

Pictorially it looks like this:

Image sourceImage alt text: US time zone map

By comparison South America uses five standard time zones which are (from west to east):

  • UTC - 5 (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru)
  • UTC - 4
  • UTC - 4.30
  • UTC - 3
  • UTC - 2

Large countries like Brazil use 4 time zones but most of Brazil follows Brasilia (Brazil’s capital) official time which is UTC-3. 

The South America time zone map looks like this:

Image sourceImage alt text: Time zone map for South American countries

Of the Latin American countries, Mexico is in the closest proximity to the United States, and it has four time zones - one of which is the equivalent of US Eastern Standard Time (the state of Quintana Roo). Mexico’s four time zones are:

  • Zone Sureste (Southeast Zone) - which covers the state of Quintana Roo (UTC-5.00) - same as US EST.
  • Zona Centro (Central Zone) which captures the eastern three-fourths of Mexico (including Mexico City, Guadalaja and Monterrey) - and for most of the year is the same as US Central Time.
  • Zona Pacifico (Pacific Zone) covering the states of Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Sinaloa, and Sonora. And for most of the year, this matches U.S. Mountain Time. (Note that the state or Sonora like the US state of Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time (DST)).
  • Zona Noroeste (Northwest Zone) covering Baja California observes US Pacific Time (including daylight savings).

So if you’re hiring from Mexico from most parts of the United States, you won’t be facing significant time zone differences. There are considerable advantages in doing business with your close neighbors - and sourcing from Latin American countries on your doorstep - means you can get work done where there are negligible time differences. This makes it easier to manage workflows and get quicker response times from your remote staff to hit those important deadlines.

A June 2020 study (in Spanish) found that Latin American countries most likely to expand remote work were Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Another study found that Latin American countries are well-prepared for remote work transitions - with data showing that a quarter of all jobs were being done remotely already. There are also skilled expats from the United States, United Kingdom and Europe choosing to live and work remotely in Latin American countries providing additional staffing resources for American employers seeking to nearshore in that region.

Change the way you look at hiring

Nearshoring from Latin America means you can bring new people into your organization who may have different perspectives but who share cultural values and a North American work ethic. Agile employers are changing the way they evaluate potential talent. Sourcing remotely closer to home can help firms create better business outcomes at lower costs while driving a better employee experience. Minimal language barriers and similar time zones help to deliver a more effective working relationship.

Near is a curated job board for US companies hiring pre-vetted, English-speaking talent from Latin America for remote, US time zone, full-time jobs.  We can help you find the best staff for your business with salaries which are up to 70% less than it costs you to hire locally.

We have more than 5,000 active candidates available to work immediately across various parts of Latin America. All our candidates are vetted. We allow US, Canadian and European companies to post jobs on Near. This ensures that all our candidates will be paid in US dollars providing great opportunities for young skilled professionals wanting to expand into overseas markets.