Smart Working - #SMWmilan Smart Working - #SMWmilan

Smart Working - #SMWmilan

How the Italian work scene is changing

- + Text size
Print

Until a few years ago, it was necessary to commute to our office or company. For several years, we have heard people speaking about teleworking. With teleworking, it is not essential to go to the office in order to work. It can be done from home, or in many other places, freeing up time for employees, reducing traffic and carbon dioxide production.

Smart working, the subject of bipartisan legislation recently lodged in Parliament, is one of the most discussed topics at the present time.

According to the Osservatorio del Politecnico di Milano, smart working would result in extra revenue of 27 billion and a saving of 10 billion euros.

What is missing in Italy to make smart working the norm and not an exception?

What critical issues may be encountered by companies that adopt this work method?

Teleworking and Smart working

Barbara Stefanelli – Deputy Editor of Corriere della Sera - explains the creation of the  “La 27esima ora” in order to analyse a fact: smart working is not only a requirement of women, which many people think. “One of the main themes of the blog is reconciling time and work”, a theme that interests both men and women, explains Barbara, even if 70% of the comments posted come from women.

We must make the most of the technologies we have for teleworking in order to cut red tape with regard to work and start a revolution that will change not only the way we work but also the way we live.

The change can begin by updating legislation on teleworking, because, today, it is more correct to speak about smart working, as explained by Alessia Mosca – Member of Parliament and PD (Democratic Party) Head of the European Union Policies Committee. We have decided not to write the text while closed in our office but to make a draft that we have made available to experts, economists and whoever can help us complete the text. Bearing in mind these comments, we have altered the original text, proposing one that is closer to the real needs of the parties concerned”, says Alessia. But why is legislation necessary for this?

Teleworking has never taken off in Italy, although it is much required. We realised that the legislation in question would not be able to provide answers, because it dated back too far and did not consider the advent of new technologies. It has been necessary to propose an update, starting by cutting red tape in order to expand remote working, avoiding the creation of a permanent workstation, since it is now possible to work anywhere. The bill does not provide for the procedure to be a total procedure, instead, it establishes the percentage of time that may be dedicated to remote working, and to avoid isolation, the percentage of work that must be done in the office.

This bill is intended to change the work method, which must focus on achieving goals, on productivity and efficiency, but not on control.

A change is required in company culture to bring about a change in the relationship between employees and their employer.

Milan and smart working

On 6 February, a smart working day was held in Milan: thanks to Social Networks, the news spread everywhere and, for one day, employees did not go to their “traditional” work place but, instead, worked from home or from any place with available connection.

Chiara Bisconti - Councillor for Welfare, Quality of life, Sport and Recreation at the Municipality of Milan reports some data about the day:

  • 6,000 employees took part in the day
  •  40% of the participants had never tried smart working
  • 50% would have had to commute to work by car
  • 48% were men and 42% women
  •  the home to office route is 56 kilometres on average
  • each person gained two hours in time

These two hours should make us reflect. This is the time it usually takes to commute and that, by smart working, a person can spend differently.

Furthermore, “smart working lowers management costs”, Chiara points out.

From theory to practice

I am lucky to work for a company where everyone can benefit from smart working. My company has a nordic approach, a nordic culture, which means that the company believes people work to be satisfied and do their best, therefore they must not be controlled but feel free to balance free time with work”, says Paola Cavallero – General Manager of Nokia Sales International, who describes her work experience at a company, which, for some time, has given its employees the opportunity to work from home. Naturally, to achieve goals, working in a team “people know that they must balance flexibility with the fact that we are a team”.

The only disadvantage is that, very often, working flexibility leads to never having a break and to being more encouraged to achieve pre-established goals.

Is Italian society ready for change?

Smart working does not require heavy public investment in order to start and develop. It means changing work culture, understanding that an employer must be flexible towards employees, and not vice versa. An employer must learn to trust his/her employees, without excessive control, as it may only lead to negative results. But how do employees feel about this? “Some smart workers do not want to speak about their work because they are afraid of losing “the privilege” or they want to speak about it so they can describe their positive experience”, explains Rita Querzè – Journalist at Corriere della Sera. We need to remove certain taboos, and teach society the advantages of this work method:

  • flexibility for employees
  • advantages for women who can, at last, be evaluated on results
  • increased productivity
  • reduced costs for the company

Smart working is appreciated by young people, who love technology, by parents who can look after their children, and by senior citizens who can enjoy their time.

We must remember, however, that to avoid any risk of isolating individuals, as Sociologist Monica Fabris explainswe need to balance the traditional work method with smart working, even if, on smart working days we can always stay connected with our colleagues, thanks to Social networks, recreating a working environment in any context, without sacrificing interpersonal relationships.