Reconcile, innovate, and compete. These are the three different, apparently antithetical objectives of smart working which are configured as a new approach to business organization, in which the individual needs of the worker are balanced, in a complementary way, with those of the company.
The concept of agile working, indeed, encompasses multiple aspects. We move from the flexibility of the time and place of work performance to forms of corporate welfare to facilitate parents or workers engaged in forms of parental assistance.
It must be admitted, however, that if the Covid-19 emergency had not occurred, every organization would have demanded detailed programs, clarifications, guarantees. Excuses would have been found to postpone, as happens every time one have even simply to think of something new to introduce, that can change the status quo, go beyond your comfort zone, etc. In short, in all cases where the innovative idea is not also driven by an urgent need for change.
Furthermore, it is also good to remember that technology has changed our lives, but knowing how to better manage innovation is essential.
Nor should we forget that an integral part of agile work are the technological tools that should be provided by the employer, who also guarantee its proper functioning. And this is a painful note in contexts where there is no real and conscious culture of the need to put their collaborators in ideal conditions to express the best of themselves.
It is precisely in regard to these last two considerations I would like to make a reflection, that perhaps can also make us understand some uncertainty about the opportunity of introducing anyway this novelty.
Looking around we can see that we are not all in the same ideal conditions.
There are those who can have a suitable environment, a stable and fast internet connection, good tools, a dedicated room, silence around, maybe a beautiful view. But there are others who perform the same tasks, perhaps for the same company, from a small and uncomfortable house, with an unstable connection, and people around (elderly parents, relatives, young children). Or alone, always!
This is unfair. But this doesn’t seem to worry employers, both public and private, too much. Politics has other things to think about.
It is therefore not surprising that those who find themselves in the second situation described cannot wait to go back to the office, while the former is in no hurry.
Ultimately, Smart Working, with all its advantages for individuals (some), for companies, the economy in general, and even for environmental sustainability, is operating a new social fracture, which must be taken into account.
Without prejudice to the current emergency situation, and considering that the idea is spreading that this is a change to be maintained and increased in the future, some reflection would also be necessary, by administrations, schools, public and private companies, on the need to inquire, at least (and first), on the opportunity to organize smartworking based on the domestic situation of one’s collaborators.
It is not only a question of justice but also of common sense. And of good functioning: if you have a portion of employees who willingly work from home and one forces them to come to the office, they will not be satisfied. If there are others who work not willingly, in spite of themselves, from home, preventing them from coming to the company/office, we will make them unhappy.
Both will work worse and produce less.
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Aldo, Covid has indeed fractured society in ways… that needed to be dealt with already.
So it’s a fracture along a stress line.
Diversity in the workplace includes differing domestic situations and it’s going to take more than technology to get the right fit going forward.