Smart working: the challenge is entirely cultural


During the webinar SMART WORKING: TECHNOLOGIES, ORGANIZATION, HUMAN RESOURCESThe Innovation Group conducted a survey to understand how Italian companies faced the challenge and, more than two months after the outbreak of the emergency, how they plan to manage the gradual return to normal.

The first fact that stands out is that it does smart working he is here to stay: half of the companies surveyed had already activated remote work policies before the COVID-19 emergency, while the vast majority of the remaining companies adopted them precisely at the time of the lockdown. The remaining 3% have not yet activated these workplace policies, although two out of three plan to do so. For 47% of the sample, in any case, activating remote working mode is one of the main priorities for 2020, together with the increase in efficiency and a greater use of digital in the company.

Smart Working

However, an aspect not to be overlooked must also be underlined: only one in three companies have extended remote work to the entire workforce and, in most cases, smart working does not cover 100% of working hours, but only a part. A situation likely to change in the short term: 65% of the sample said they wanted to increase the use of smart working once the emergency ended, and only 6% excluded it a priori.

Smart Working

Agile work: Tito Boeri’s point of view

The webinar was also attended by Tito Boeri, Economist and Full Professor of Bocconi University, who until February 2019 was also President of INPS. Boeri explained that in the Italian fabric it is not possible to extend agile work to all figures: according to his estimates, only 30% of the jobs can be managed remotely, a value slightly lower than the European average, also due to the fact that in Italy the industry has an important weight and, although automation continues to make progress, the physical presence of workers and other figures in the factory is still necessary.

Smart working

At the moment in Italy there are more women than men who work in an agile way, an aspect that according to Boeri is positive, as is the fact that workers over 55 are, contrary to expectations, overrepresented, that is, there is a higher concentration than the average of over 55 who work remotely. On the other hand, jobs characterized by lower wages are underrepresented. A fact that is not surprising, if put in relation with the sectors that most adopt smart working: finance and insurance, scientific world, media and communication.
Boeri focused on the concept of economic sustainability, the basis of each business, underlining that to adopt an agile way of working and assess its impact is fundamental to measure the output, the results. The goal of every company is inevitably to increase productivity over time, but to do so, it is necessary to measure it. Easy on paper: we certainly don’t lack the tools. More difficult, however, to apply it in practice: unions are opposed to individual performance measurement. A solution, according to Boeri, could be to propose the collective measurement of the results.
The fact remains that not all companies are used to thinking about results and productivity, often because they are still tied to the concept of “hours spent in the company”, rather than the objectives achieved. In fact, it is no coincidence that all the participants in the webinar focused on an important concept: what we have seen applied in most cases is not smart working, but simple work remotely. The difference is not just lexical: the smart worker has at his / her own time and works according to the objectives. Unlike those who do telework, which is instead tied to the classic business logic and is limited to carrying out its task remotely.

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