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Smart Working. Working Smart

24 March 2020

A new cultural and organisational paradigm: Welcome to smart working

Smart working means being flexible, responsible, and making one’s work results-oriented. Learn more about best practices, and how technology increase work productivity.

Everything is changing, evolving, transforming so quickly, and corporate organisation and culture is no exception. From this extremely dynamic context comes a new philosophy: Smart Working. The Observatory of the Polytechnic of Milan defines it like this: “a new management philosophy based on giving people back both flexibility and autonomy in choosing their work spaces, schedules, and tools in consideration for greater accountability for results”. This new concept, which is governed by Law no. 81/2017, and centred on removing time and space restrictions with a view toward reaching objectives, is predicated on a paradigm shift in thinking and in culture. To take advantage of these benefits, in terms of company and personnel productivity, the company must be structured in a way that ensures staff operations. We must raise awareness, and seek buy-in, for the Smart Working culture.

Smarter, with greater responsibility: advantages and disadvantages

Law no. 81/2017 talks about Smart Working as a “means of supporting the worker in achieving work/life balance”. To make this actually attainable, one must develop soft skills in terms of flexibility, agility, and adaptability. Indeed, time management, self-direction and accountability are the hallmarks of this work method.

According to research studies conducted by the Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic, the greater autonomy enjoyed by the Smart Worker leads to greater job satisfaction as they reach their goals, and to company productivity in turn. For precisely this reason, organisations that implement the Smart Working approach reap the rewards both on a company-wide and on an individual-worker basis. Not only do productivity levels increase, and costs and turnover rates go down, wellness levels and staff morale go up (think of the stress relief that comes from not having to commute), along with higher levels of motivation and incentives to generate value for the organisation.

On the other hand, there are new issues that one must bear in mind. Managing one’s own time and work may lead to overworking, and the risk of a never-ending work day. At the opposite extreme there are the underworking scenarios: an unmotivated worker might work less, or underperform. There are also issues relating to not feeling connected to one’s colleagues, and a lack of social interaction. All of a sudden, there’s no way to get to know a new colleague, or to catch up with a coworker around the water cooler.

To avoid these issues, the company must place the individual, and his or her interests, front and centre. Employee experience must be paramount: they must be given the physical and digital spaces, tools, and work methods that match the needs of the markets and employees.

How might a company launch a Smart Working mode?

Flexibility within the organisation, and a willingness on the part of the employees to sign a Smart Working agreement: these are the two criteria that make this type of agile work a possibility. Indeed, without the appropriate work spaces, and the implementation of tools that allow for working remotely, the project will never take off.

Intesa has long embraced the Smart Working modality. We are convinced, now more than ever, that the Digital sphere plays a crucial role in these types of Change Management programmes. Although the digital aspect is certainly one of the most significant, it is by no means the only driver of smart working.

Here are the key factors to take into consideration, and the best practices for working in Smart mode:

  • Setting straight-forward rules and guidelines relating to flex-scheduling (start time / end time, total work day) the work location, the option to select and personalise one’s work tools.
  • Designing work environments that comply with professional needs (Smart Working may also be practised off-site or in a shared working space). The Intesa offices, for example, have been designed as collaborative-working spaces, which allow us to host colleagues from other locations in Italy, strategic partners, and companies with which to launch co-creation efforts. Shared spaces, conducive to the work of interdepartmental teams, and networking with current companies, sound-proof call boxes for confidential telephone calls: these are just a few examples of how the new workspace is designed.
  • Providing the entire company population the technologies needed for smart working, conceived as a technological support (smartphone, PC, and table) as well as a team-working tool. Technologies that transform workspaces into virtual spaces: the digital workplace. These instruments are intended to streamline communication, teamwork, and document / information sharing, and to provide the tools for networking with colleagues and other companies. Thanks to collaborative software, databases, and shared boards, one can plan, organise, manage, and monitor the work done by each team.  Thus, a virtual work space is created, one that is accessible from anywhere (and not just one’s own work station) at any time.
  • Disseminate the meaning and culture of Smart Working, a culture of personal accountability and trust. There is a new conception of “work”, with a greater focus on performance and achieving results, and less on the number of hours spent at the office. The organisation and delegation of work becomes results-based.

These guidelines are reinforced by company policies and digital skills. The same work modes are used at all levels within the organisation, which builds community, and fosters an environment of equality. For Smart Working to be efficient, and to get the most out of available technology, the entire company must have developed the necessary digital skills.

By heeding these guidelines, one can create a nimble, scalable work setting. Critical issues are tackled without any negative impact on operations.

Intesa’s role in the Smart Working field

In a world unshackled from space / time boundaries, it becomes increasingly important to connect people, spaces, objects, and business procedures. Pursuing increased productivity becomes possible by using innovative services, ones that make a more streamlined, nimble, and scalable kind of work a possibility.

Intesa handles the development of services-as-a-service, which allows for companies to digitally redesign their supply chain and business model, to collaborate with their ecosystem through portals to connect them to their customers and suppliers.

The approach Intesa has taken with its own business to ensure the highest level of operational capacity is the same approach it has taken with companies choosing Intesa as their guide into a digital transformation.


By Angelica Deputato – Marketing Operations Specialist, Intesa (Gruppo IBM)

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