The debate on smart working has regained relevance following the recent updates introduced by the Labor Decree. But can we still consider it as a response to a time of crisis or a mere trend, or are we referring to a phenomenon that represents a new philosophy of life and productivity?
In recent weeks, the media has once again focused on smart working following the Senate’s approval of the bill converting the Labor Decree, which, among other measures, extends smart working for highly vulnerable workers whose authorization expires on June 30th. This extension applies until September 30th to both public and private sector employees who suffer from chronic and considered severe illnesses with poor clinical compensation, and until the end of the year for parents of children under 14, provided that this modality is compatible with the profession of the requesting individual and the other parent, if present, is not a beneficiary of social protection measures or is not employed. However, beyond the current debate, let us explore the meaning of smart working. Why is it widely adopted in many companies, including multinational corporations, and met with considerable satisfaction by both employers and employees?
Smart working is an organizational model that is often mistakenly equated to remote work or telecommuting in Italy. Also known as Agile Working, it is defined by the Smart Working Observatory of the Polytechnic University of Milan as “a genuine managerial philosophy based on giving people flexibility and autonomy in choosing spaces, schedules, and tools while increasing accountability for results. It is a new approach to how we work and collaborate within a company, based on four fundamental pillars: revising the organizational culture, flexibility in terms of schedules and work locations, technological resources, and physical spaces.”
It is a phenomenon that is increasingly widespread, not only in large companies but also in SMEs, in Italy and elsewhere. It is not a passing trend or a response to a crisis but rather a new way of thinking about the conditions for real worker productivity. Particularly today, with the growing use of digital technologies, devices, and people’s inclination towards virtual interaction and communication.
According to a recent study conducted by the Smart Working Observatory of the Polytechnic University of Milan on a sample of Italian companies with 10 to 250 employees, it was found that 18% of companies already implement smart working, although they may lack the appropriate structure, while 12% have the necessary infrastructure and equipment for smart working. Therefore, the transition to smart working is much more than a technological innovation project. It means questioning stereotypes related to workplaces, working hours, and tools, allowing individuals to achieve both professional effectiveness and a better work-life balance.