We have already described the general characteristics of Smart Working in the previous article, giving a detailed analysis of what the legislation says about it [NdR see the previous article].
In this part, we will try to go deeper into the practical implementation of Smart Working and we will do pointing out what are the main difficulties and then describe some Italian or international success case.

6 things to keep in mind when talking about Smart Working

A recent report by the United Nations International Labor Organization revealed that while employees are more productive when they work outside the conventional office, they are also more vulnerable to working longer hours, at a more intense pace of work and, in some cases, to more stress.

Below we analyze a little more in detail the main challenges that the management of remote work brings with it.

1. Working too much

One of the reasons many managers do not approve remote work is their fear employees would not work as before without a physical and personal supervision. But, most of the time, the opposite tends to be the reality: remote workers are more likely to charge work and achieve more results. When personal life and work are both under one roof, it is more difficult to “switch off”.

So the question is, how to avoid overloading?

  • We must impose ourselves pauses and set clear start and end times;
  • Set up appointments on the calendar at the end of the day to leave the home office;
  • Turn off notifications on your phone and computer, so you do not get back to work after a few hours

2. Interruptions: family, pets and/or bell

The good news is that when you work from home, you avoid colleagues who come to your desk and other office breaks (it’s someone’s birthday! We organize a cake in the party room!).
The bad news is that probably other types of interruptions and distractions will need to be addressed, regardless of whether it is the UPS courier that delivers you a package or your in-laws that come without warning.

It is doubly true when the children are involved.

3. Communication problems

Communication is essential for a remote team and keeping it at decent levels is a big challenge.
The problem of communication is certainly more complex if just some members of the teamwork are in the office. You could lose important discussions that took place during breaks and not be involved in some decision.

Unless the company has a strong culture of inclusion even for remote workers, this could be a serious problem.
The only real solution is to communicate as much as possible, clarify everything that could create misunderstandings and be proactive in speaking.

4. Sharing material

For their daily work, employees should be allowed to use any device they wish to access the company’s applications and services securely and remotely.
The law mandatory does not consider the use of technological tools (computer, tablet, etc.) that remotely connect the worker, but indeed, this is and will be the predominant modality.

5. Time zone differences

Related to being or feeling out of the loop, some companies find the differences in time zones a problem to address. If the company is located in distant parts of the world, it could also happen that a part of the team will wake up only when the other party is going to bed. And if, from a production point of view, having the team located in different time zones can be an opportunity to generate a virtuous cycle where work never ceases to be worked but only passes from one colleague to another, this also means that you can not always rely on the fact that a colleague is available to answer an urgent question or resolve any other immediate need.

6. Hiccup Technology

Nothing makes a worker shake in fear as much as a break from the internet. Or, perhaps, when your computer breaks down. On these occasions the responsibility is only on the employee who must find solutions as soon as possible, losing the work balance that he was able to build himself.

Examples of success

High-speed Internet and powerful apps allow anyone with a desk job to work from home. Today most companies insist that employees are commuting, sometimes overwhelming, in an office.

It is clear that the time for comparison is essential: excellent for team building, collaboration and not to get lost in the nuances of communication. However, as some companies already show, there is no need for a physical office to succeed.

In fact, it could be argued that being utterly remote with a 100% team, without any company office, makes the most profitable companies.

Among the examples we found the most interesting we chose:

Buffer

Their social media management tools are used by over 60,000 paying customers because they make sharing on social networks very simple and fast.
Buffer has a completely distributed team, with over 80 employees working in different countries. It is very interesting the map of the time zones of employees that is made public. In addition to teleworking, employee benefits include unlimited vacations, free books and kindle and annual international retreats (the last one was in Waikiki, Hawaii!).

InVision

InVision offers a collaboration platform for designing and prototyping. With InVision, teams can design and test products using an intuitive interface from anywhere, just like the InVision team of over 220 staff members located in 14 different countries.

This is how Avi Posluns, InVision Director of Team Happiness, describes their experience: “Being 100% distributed is intentional. Our CEO Clark Valberg wants his staff to work where he wants, whenever he wants. We put the emphasis on results, not on physical presence.

Being remote also allows us to tap into talents that are not limited by physical position. We can engage team members who are good at what they do regardless of where they are. ” The startup offers a wide range of benefits including personal medical insurance, free gym passes, equipment allowances, conference and travel bags, and even unlimited Starbucks drinks. Weekly check-ins and anonymous surveys help ensure that employees are satisfied and not abandoned to their jobs.

Barilla

Barilla launched its Smart Working project in 2013 and, by 2020, aims to involve all workers, production lines excluded.
The goal of the project is to give employees the opportunity to work flexibly, anywhere and at any time, thanks to new digital communication tools and new methodologies.

This is why the Emilian company – which employs around 8,000 people worldwide, with a turnover of over 3 billion euros and 29 production sites – has extended its Smart Working project to all its national and international offices. The response of the employees was excellent: about 1,200 employees joined the project started three years ago, which aims to involve all workers, net of production lines. Until now, to appreciate the possibility of working in an agile way, in particular, women between the ages of 30 and 55 and those traveling between home and office over 25 kilometers.

“Smart Working for Barilla means three things” – says Alessandra Stasi, Head of Organization & People Development – “First of all, working anywhere, anytime, and secondly it means using spaces in a different way: we worked a lot in the various offices to reorganize the offices around collaboration, communication, and individual concentration activities, which today can also be done remotely. The third aspect is digital technologies “.

Conclusion

Smart Working is an organizational change. Switch from physical presence in the office to work for goals with an evolution of leadership models.

The perception that the current “working practices” are not flexible enough to get the most out of their staff is increasingly widespread and therefore more, and more companies are organizing to establish this new culture.

But these changes must lead to the definition of a more fluid business structure that can allow you to work remotely by accessing files saved on the company’s local servers, to exchange files between colleagues in a secure way and to automate the processes that require the most time. Less human presence is needed.

To do all this, GreenVulcano has devised an entire suite of software that is changing the working life of many international companies.

With this document, we have tried to give all the information possible to make a decision, but we hope that this reading does not remain just an informative effort but is an incentive to bring a new transformation in companies.
If you are interested in learning more, contact us here:

marketing@greenvulcano.com

and together we will look for the best solution to achieve your goals.

OPEN SPACE’s model seems to have failed. The open and shared workspace that appeared to be the answer to the solitary and alienating routine is not effective, and it also has deleterious effects on productivity.
Spread in recent years to improve teamwork and encourage a constant stream of ideas among colleagues, it now seems to give way to new solutions.

The futurologist Nicola Millard, an expert in emerging data, analysis and technologies, has predicted that employees will become “backpackers” that, armed with laptops or tablets, will collaborate in small groups remotely.
At the New Scientist Live in London, she explained her theory: “the open space offices are a model that does not fit anyone, we are interrupted every three minutes, there are too many distractions”.

In the coming years, traditional offices will be a memory, and we will increasingly orient towards more fluid and “smart” solutions.

We can find a clue about this happening in Italy. Only a few days ago, thanks to the experimentation started last July, Osmar’s employees will be able, through individual agreements, to work outside the company’s plant.

Smart Working represents a tremendous cultural change deriving from the mission to reconcile the work-life balance.
“Smart workers” won’t have a time card and are going to enjoy complete autonomy. As for previous “industrial revolution” that will bring many advantages but also important challenges that the company must be prepared to face.

We interviewed various experts and made them some question starting from the recently approved law of Smart Working.

The Smart Working law

With the law “Lavoro agile” (n.81/2017), Smart Working has been institutionalized in Italy, and each employee now has the opportunity to perform subordinate work flexibly, away from the company premises. The law also applies to all public administrations.

This law is aimed at employees or managers and is based on mobile technologies such as tablets and smartphones.

“Agile workers” obtain equal treatment – economic and regulatory – compared to colleagues who perform the service with ordinary methods. Therefore, they have protection in case of accidents and illnesses, according to the methods illustrated by INAIL in the circular n. 48/2017.

In particular, the definition of Smart Working emphasizes the organizational flexibility, the voluntariness of the parties that sign the individual agreement and the use of instruments that allow remote work (such as laptops, tablets and smartphone).

Be careful: agile work is not a new type of work contract, but only a way to execute the subordinate relationship. This will carry out partly within the company premises and partly outside, without a fixed location, within the limits of working hours established by law and collective bargaining.

To start this “smart” working relationship, a written contract is required between the parties: it can be either fixed-term or indefinite, but always with the unilateral possibility of the employee to withdraw.

Agile work from 2013 to 2016 grew by 40% in Italy. According to a research carried out by the Smart Working Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano: the Italian smart workers are now more than 300,000 or about 8% of the total number of employees, managers and executives. Large companies are more interested in agile workers (30% realized ad hoc projects in 2016) than small and medium-sized businesses.

Smart Working is, therefore, a new approach to the way of working and collaborating within a company and involves three necessary steps:
1) review the employment relationship from the number of hours worked to the objectives to be achieved.

2) the relationship between manager and employee must pass from control to trust.
3) review workspaces in a smart key: with cloud technology and portable devices, the desk becomes virtual.

Agile work puts the person at the center of the organization with the aim of making his personal and professional goals converge with those of the company and increase productivity.

Italian companies, large and medium, have welcomed the new law, which has included in a regulatory framework a practice long ago already widespread in many multinationals, and has accelerated its adoption in many others, with an increase of 14% the number of smart workers in Italy, from 240,000 in 2016 to 305,000 in 2017 (source Observatory SmartWorking Politecnico di Milano).

Conclusions

We hope that at the end of this article, you have become familiar with the Smart Working topic and are already thinking about how to start it in your company.
This article is the first of a two-part series. The second will be more specific on the main difficulties of those companies implementing a remote work project, giving examples of successful implementation both internationally and nationally. Besides, if you have any doubt or question, feel free to write us at marketing@greenvulcano.com