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The Smart Working Project

08/01/2016 - 10:00 AM

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The future of working in companies is digital

Many companies have already embraced the principle of a new work approach. TIM, in particular, is one of the best examples to pay attention to.

Let's discover more about Smart Working at TIM through 10 questions for Andrea Iapichino, contact person for TIM's Smart Working project and Head of People Caring

1. What requirements, for both the company and the people who work there, does the Smart Working project meet? What objectives has it set? 

Smart Working is an ongoing change management path that boosts productivity increasing welfare and a sense of responsibility for the results through the recombination of spaces, technologies and processes. This enables TIM to provide a better work-life balance, greater productivity, more liveable cities and the people in the company can contribute to the transition to digital.

2. How long did it take to organize such an important step in such a big and complex company as TIM? Were you inspired by some already existing models? How many people have worked (and are working) on the project and what is their expertise/role?

After an initial study phase carried out by a team, in April 2015 a specific project responsibility was defined by HR and the role of Contact person was created. From that time 10 months passed before we were ready to launch the experiment. This time was used to study successful cases in Italy and abroad, to conduct a survey (together with Milan Polytechnic), carry out some stress tests, and above all understand how smart working can be integrated into TIM's strategy. To manage the project I involved and continue to work with several colleagues from various company departments (from Networks to Information Technology, Real Estate, Finance, and Communication). We are looking at a genuine team result of people who are using their expertise in a coordinated way to promote this change.

3. What is the most complicated and critical aspect in the transition towards smart working for a company like TIM?

The processes, the layering of processes, I would say. TIM is a company that offers latest generation digital services, but it also has its operating roots in typically analog procedures. So, managing to transform this “lasagna” into energy for the digital transformation of the organization is a “complicated” thing to do because misalignments can be created between the objectives, behaviours and tools that cause frustration in the organization. But this type of difficulty can be addressed and overcome by collecting feedback from people and being able to correct the choices that do not work so well.

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Andrea Iapichino

Contact person for TIM's Smart Working project and Head of People Caring

4. Can you give us some up-to-date figures on the results of the project to date (July 2016)? 

Yes. I will start by saying the experiment is aimed at a group of around 19,000 employees in 5 cities. There are almost 9,000 participants (8,979, to be precise), with an increase of +1.5% over the previous month. 64% of them have 1 smart working day a week. 31% of managers are participating personally. 38% of the participants are aged between 46 and 51 years old (…perhaps digital immigrants are an urban legend).

5. What parameters are you considering to assess the validity of the project in the medium-term? 

Productivity, without doubt. As I said at the beginning, Smart Working is a change management path that increases the sense of responsibility for the results. So, through a survey especially created for this purpose, we are working with all managers to identify indicators that will objectively confirm whether the project is valid (or not).

6. What are the next steps in the project?

We must definitely continue to collect feedback and study the results in-depth. This should allow us to optimize the results themselves, perhaps through a discussion with trade union organizations. Moreover, we are also waiting to be able to apply the outcome of Parliament's work on Agile working, which is still in progress.

The aim of the project

Boosting PRODUCTIVITY, increasing WELFARE and a SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY for the e la RESPONSABILIZZAZIONE verso i risultati
 

The most difficult aspect

Reducing the LAYERING OF PROCESSES and transforming processes into energy for the DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION of the organization

Results as of July 2016

- almost 9,000 participants in 5 cities
- 31% of managers participating personally
- 38% of the participants are aged between 46 and 51 years old

We must be aware of the need to adopt this mental approach and, in particular, to keep in mind that work is above all collaboration

Andrea Iapichino

The transition to digital is happening at a much greater speed than previous ones. This speed creates an enormous challenge for the company. Smart Working supports the company's transformation path.

Andrea Iapichino

7. Have you personally tried out smart working? How did you like it and what, in your experience, are the main differences with working in an office (pros and cons)?

I found it to be an easy and complex experience at the same time. Easy, because the search for a better equilibrium is a natural aspiration of each of us. Complex, because the ability to organize our work starting with the results that we want to ensure for the team is an attitude conquered with much training. I will try to explain myself in clearly. In a traditional office setting I can even decide to “live for the moment” or to wait for inputs; in short, I can be simply reactive. If, on the other hand, I want to adopt an “agile” way of working, which gives me more flexibility over the time and place where I perform my work I must also be productive, at least slightly more so than when I am in the office (without this “slightly more so” there is no reason to engage in smart working), so I must be proactive and focused on being a team player. More than a question of “pros and cons” I think we must be aware of the need to adopt this mental approach and, in particular, to keep in mind that work is above all collaboration.

8. Given the high participation rate, you must have some interesting anecdotes from some smart working colleagues. Would you care to tell us one?

Indeed, such an important change means there will be many private tales of time recovered, favouring better integration among the various dimensions that make up the day of each one of us. We want to try and collect some interesting stories on our digital channels, from the Group's social networks to our TIM People Net Intranet.

9. Smart Working also implies a more mature way of using technologies. Do you think that Smart Working can promote the digitization processes? In the company have you seen a cultural evolution in the use of technological tools?

In response to the first part of the question, yes, I am convinced of it. The transition to digital is happening at a much greater speed than previous ones. This speed creates an enormous challenge for the company. In fact, the managerial culture available was fully formed when economic transformations were measured in years – and not months – and the boundaries between distinct technological areas were solid allowing the “pace” of change to be controlled. Vice versa, those frontiers have now evaporated and the speed of change proceeds without meeting any obstacles and is very exposed to the behaviour of customers, who aspire to replicate as far as possible their favourite experiences and the speed at which they change their choices and habits is markedly very high. Smart Working supports the company's transformation path. That said, I will go on to the second part of the question: since we started the project there has been an increase in awareness of the use of the digital technologies already available. We do, however, need to admit that all, or almost all, of us still have a great deal to learn to ensure we get the best use out of them for TIM. To this end, together with colleagues from Training and HR Services, we are working on a package of “digital pills” on the very use of these technologies and the evolution of our behaviours. From this point of view too we have confirmation that adopting smart working is a process of change, and therefore of learning, which unfolds on a curvilinear path. Along this curve some of us are behind and others ahead. It is important that the latter set an example for the former.

10. Do you think the adoption of smart working by a growing number of companies is a first step towards a management style that is increasingly based on creating a sense of responsibility in employees, free from the restrictions of fixed hours and locations?

As I said at the beginning, smart working is an ongoing change management path that boosts productivity increasing welfare and responsibility for the results through the recombination of spaces, technologies and processes. However, there is no need to turn work hours and locations into fetishes. Having reference working hours, just like having a reference workplace, is actually an advantage for everyone. Returning to the topic of the social aspect of work: if this is key in the human experience (and for me it is), we must agree that it requires a foundation of shared rules. I will give an example that may seem provocative but that instead, just like work, considers the human dimension: the most successful parties are those at which those invited have the time and space to exchange some jokes with friends and make some new acquaintances. These parties require good preparation, I would say almost real leadership, but it is essential that every single participant contributes to their success. I would like this to be a metaphor for smart working. Beyond metaphor, Parliament is discussing some draft bills on smart working, understood as a tool to increase productivity and work-life balance.  The government has already regulated with this aim in mind introducing tax and contribution incentives that may make the cost of labour more efficient. Italian companies are aware of these opportunities.

I think that before too long competition between companies will also be affected by smart working which increases productivity and contributes to the digital transformation.

Andrea Iapichino