The introduction of the so-called “Smart working” opens, as far as the issue of work/life reconciliation is concerned, modern scenarios that offer the chance to experience new ways of working inside the companies to achieve conditions of organizational comfort, which is as functional for company as it is fruitful for the worker.
Several European and Italian projects have started to detect the functioning of this new business model and to identify objective indicators that will check efficiency and effectiveness.
The first important test in this regard is ‘Elena project’, which has been recently presented in Rome in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. The project sees the partnership between the Department for Equal Opportunities and the Department for Family Policies, with the scientific collaboration of the Charles Dondena Center. The project aims to get – through empirical testing – to produce and subsequently propose new instruments of knowledge and intervention to improve the harmonization of private life and work, but also to remove the stereotypes involving women as the sole recipient of such reconciliation measures.
Research results concerning some forms of smart work on the go in public and private companies – from which some common elements between the different enterprise contexts were inferred – were shown during the presentation. In particular, in all produced cases there was a significant improvement in the quality of life of man and women workers in the experiment, but also a decisive strengthening of business productivity, a significant reduction in absenteeism, a decrease of the operating costs, travel expenses, and of the overtime work. A change in the employment relationship was registered in some areas, restoring full-time jobs instead of part-time. Indirect benefits have been detected also in environmental terms, due to the reducing, for example, presence in the office involves automatic reduction of travelling, hence of traffic.
In short, results are encouraging so far for businesses, but also for both men and women workers, hence it is good to point out a fact that makes us think and seems to lead us towards the cultural aspect of the question, a necessary step to practically achieve equal opportunities. In the companies that partake in the research, initial results show that the use of this form of work is very attractive not only for women workers, but also for men workers: 56% of those who benefit from the forms of smart work are men. It is a new effect, and today it gives us hope on a subject so dear to us, women, that of sharing family responsibilities. Yet, it needs much attention and its result will be verified in the long run. A change of pace also for the companies that prefer productivity, determined not by presence, but by the achievement of the goals.
Performance that replaces presenteeism with organizational efficiency, shifting our focus from performance to results. As it often happens, reality gets ahead of the norms and to date, these processes are the result of company agreements that move in a soft regulatory frame, flexible, and also the result of decentralized bargaining, which anticipates the regulatory framework. A concrete example of the validity of these new tools has been recently given by the agreement signed between companies and unions, with the involvement of the Tuscan institutions, in the Bassilichi Group’s office in Pisa, which has decided to close and transfer its workers to the headquarters in Florence. The new forms of flexibility allowed 35 out of the 57 workers from the office in Pisa to keep doing their jobs in the same venue thanks to a project of “smart working”, which will be called “Smart Bassilichi”
It is work in progress and it excites us with the benefits it can produce. In quality of women, we hope that among the expected effects there is going to be the process of women’s entering into the labor market. We also hope that it will be easier for them to stay there, keeping them away from the crossroads where they would have to choose between family and work.