For sure, when the emergency phase is done, nobody will be able to say “we cannot implement Smart Working”: this is positive.
I often hear in recent weeks, that the spread of covid-19 has also spread Smart Working in Italy, but it seems to me misleading.
Is one who runs to take the bus a marathon runner? (to quote a metaphor by my friend Luca Trippetti).
Smart Working is an organizational model, a radical cultural change; the remote working at home is only one of its possibilities / prerogatives; in my opinion the least inspiring, especially in the current health conditions that precludes the application of Flexibility, a key element of Smart Working.
The corona virus forces us to work at home; all of us comply to the new Italian Government rules with a sense of responsibility; this can be the first step of a great cultural transformation of working if we understand what it really is Smart Working and we stop likening it with Remote Working at home, the so called “Home Working”, an obsolete concept that does not return the complexity and value of Smart Working.
A value that must be built day by day with awareness and consistency: there is no single recipe valid for all companies and applying Smart Working means embarking on a constantly in progress path.
Its first goals are wellbeing and happiness of people, work-life balance, the creation a positive business climate.
The increase in efficiency and productivity, the reduction of absenteeism and absences due to illness are a consequence, not the aim.
The pillars of smart working: people, organization, technology, physical space.
In sumary, Smart Working is a “philosophy” that starts from trust in people, from autonomy and empowerment, from flexibility in choosing places / times.
It requires a different and more flexible definition of spaces, an adaptation of the technological platform and a result-based management.
That’s why this isn’t Smart Working.
Despite all the objective difficulties, the application of Government directives was simpler for companies that had already embarked on Smart Working, that had already involved employees in this change, equipping them with the most appropriate technologies.
The situation is very different for all the other companies that are improvising solutions, simply leaving employees to work at home, on the dining table, with PCs and monitors because there have not lap-tops nor devices that allow a video conference among the team working colleagues.
The current emergency conditions risk of giving a wrong conception and a totally refusal of Smart Working.
The Remote Working from covid-19 is unfortunately a coercive mode, accompanied by a depressive isolation, and above all the working parents are severely tested by the presence of their children at home from school, engaged in naive activities of “Smart Learning“.
No Work-Life balance, indeed!
The Remote Working imposed by covid-19 does not allow any flexibility in choosing the place and, above all, it is not the result of a change management based on trust.
I have heard several people wonder if their boss can check the respecting of working time, be surprised that they have worked much more than they are at office, but also tired of loneliness after a few days, spent in slippers and pyjamas.
It is a demonstration that Control is still the main lever of management in many companies and that socialization, sharing, meeting are primary needs of the human being making a sense to work.
Alea iacta est.
Now, however, we made the first move, when this damned emergency will be over companies will no longer ignore the benefits of Agile Work. But the awareness of its real meaning is indispensable for the implementing Smart Working.
Text by Renata Sias