SOCIETY | Apr 2, 2020

Smart Working, between advantages, adoption strategies and emergency

How widespread is Smart Working as a result of the Coronavirus emergency and what are the 5 good reasons to adopt it even after the emergency is over?

There were only 570,000 Italian smart workers, according to the latest report published in October 2019 by the Smart Working Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, with a growth of only 20% compared with 2018. PA employees, who experienced the strongest growth of smart workers, from 8% to 16%, and employees of large companies, from 56% to 58%, were the main ones to benefit from this. As a result of the pandemic emergency, the number of people smart working has increased, exceeding, according to Ministry of Labor sources, one million. De facto, according to research conducted by the Labor Consultants Association, the jobs which could be carried out remotely could be over 8 million.

What are the reasons that led to activating smart working projects before the Coronavirus?

According to the PoliMI Observatory, smart working met some of the needs that were felt, in particular by large companies, namely: improving the work life balance (78%), increasing the engagement and attracting new talents (59%) and a new work culture geared towards achieving objectives (43%). In small and medium enterprises, on the other hand, the advantages were identified in the improvement of organizational wellbeing (50%) and of business processes (26%), which necessarily had to be rethought and reorganized with smart working.

According to an analysis performed by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-employed, “smart” workers appreciate this method because of its flexibility (55% of respondents) and increased productivity (25%).

“In Engineering we have been metabolizing remote work for years. It’s in our DNA” – explains Orazio Viele, General Director of Engineering’s Technology, Innovation and Research Department. “Of these 11,000 professionals, currently more than half, about 8,000, already operate with smart working. The case of our company is unusual: it offers solutions so that its customers can organize themselves for smart working, and it testifies directly how organizing work in groups, remotely, is possible. And has done so for years. Certainly long before the Covid-19 emergency and before smart working became one of the privileged tools of corporate bargaining to create integrated welfare in the company, reconciling life and work.”

5 reasons to introduce agile work in the company

The instant paper “Digital Workplace – redrawing time and space with agile work”, recently published by Engineering, shows several advantages highlighted by the change in the way work is organized. Of these, those that more than others may be of interest to companies and PAs, regardless of their size, are 5:

  1. increased individual productivity, due to the fact that employees can free up time to devote to high value-added activities by using digital tools
  2. dissemination of teamwork, thanks to new means of communication and collaboration between colleagues, able to strengthen relationships, albeit remotely
  3. promotion of the company culture and of the sense of belonging to the company, given the possibility of providing tools capable of reducing the geographical distance between workers located in different areas
  4. faster decision-making by the management which has the opportunity to analyze valuable information in real time to support decision-making that is not only faster, but also more effective
  5. better quality IT support, able to respond to the requests of end users quickly, thanks to the direct contact and to the tools available.

Any difficulty for those who work “remotely”?

“A Digital Workplace capable of truly innovating the way we work needs a strategy, an approach capable of making technological advancement and people training go hand in hand, increasing individual productivity and a growth in collective productivity.

Only in this way is it possible to enable a real and new corporate culture, shared by Top Management and all the people working in the organization” explains Francesco Bonfiglio, CEO of Engineering D.HUB.

“Like every element of the digital transformation, the only certainty is that change, once started, will be continuous” – continues Bonfiglio. “This shouldn’t scare us, but rather it should be a mantra for everyone, managers and collaborators. The evolution of business, but even more so the cultural and organizational change which the correct adoption of Digital Workplace requires, will not stop and will become a driver for innovation and improvement of corporate productivity, of the entire production chain, of the value chain and of people.

There is a resistance to the alleged loss of control which is often linked to the experience of eye contact; most hierarchical control systems are not accustomed to managing groups of individuals working by objectives and distributed by location and language. But only by managing remote resources can talent be developed. Control must go hand in hand with competence and trust. After all, without digitization it is not possible to compete. The Italian entrepreneurial fabric, mostly composed of small and medium enterprises which have never received any support to compete, has a gap to fill, but it can compensate this through its agility”.

Sonia Montegiove