Work-life Balance And Smart Working: To give continuity to the supply of products and services during the period of social and economic “suspension” imposed by Covid-19, many companies and large professional studios have implemented smart working, distorting workers’ work-life balance. According to data from the Smart Working Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic, in large companies, 54% of employees (about 2.11 million people) and 58% of PA personnel (1.85 million) worked remotely. Millions of people have therefore needed to define a new balance between professional commitments and the private and domestic sphere.
To support this “new” workforce, digital transformation paths have accelerated sharply, as demonstrated by the data relating to the increase in the use of digital resources following the pandemic.
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The workplace is dematerialized.
The fundamental aspect that characterizes smart working, and differentiates it from teleworking, is that it frees employees from the bond with a physical place and pre-established times, allowing them to take responsibility for their duties and be able to manage their commitments independently. This means that the concept of a workstation intended as a physical place where one’s business is carried out is no longer present: one can work anywhere and when one deems it appropriate.
The tools you use are more important than the place, both for personal productivity and for communicating with others, organizing meetings, and interacting as if you were in person. Among all the new services for smart working, the most emblematic is certainly the telephone switchboard systems because they follow the person and are no longer the fixed workstation and determine, with their potential, real revolutions in which, in addition to the methods of interaction, workspaces are also evolving.
A new managerial approach
From a managerial point of view, smart working means that resource management no longer takes place on the basis of the traditional definition and control of work assignments but according to an approach based on results and with measurable objectives. Productivity must also be evaluated according to a different approach from face-to-face work. An approach that cannot follow standard models but which is instead a function of the type of activity carried out. In this sense, assessments of the ability to meet deadlines, the quality of the work performed, the time taken to prepare reports, the ability to manage emergencies, and so on could be envisaged.
Since employees no longer see each other daily, it is essential to strengthen relationships and cultivate trust by listening to them even from a distance. Never make them feel neglected or risk losing touch with them. To this end, it could be helpful to plan “virtual meeting” moments: they could be video calls to check the activities carried out or even simply to find out if everything is going smoothly, if they need help, or if the technological equipment is adequate for assigned tasks. A double objective should be pursued: on the one hand, to make everyone understand that it is important and that one is always present even if one is distant; on the other, to try to bring out and strengthen his potential in order to allow him to achieve the pre-set goals, both personal and professional.
Smart working and work-life balance: attention to the burnout effect
Being able to work on objectives with times and methods adjusted to personal needs makes smart working an element that simplifies the management of each employee’s private life. But this is true if the definition of smart working does not lack the work-life balance component.
In fact, recent news has shown the emergence of a real ” burnout ” effect following the continuation of agile working methods, which have expanded for too long a period of time, thus failing their initial premise: that of being, in fact, facilitators of an excellent compromise between work and personal life, in support, therefore, not only of companies but also of managers and workers.
The main effects of work-related stress and burnout in organizations make us think :
The importance of goals
It is essential that those who work remotely know how to focus on achieving their goals. A manager certainly needs help to dictate how to manage their time to an employee. However, since the low productivity of those who work in smart working is reflected on the whole company, the organization’s managers must act in such a way as always to have the situation under control and do everything possible to prevent the worker from reaching burnout. But instead, maintain an adequate work-life balance.
On the one hand, we, therefore, have the managers, who, collaboratively and inclusively, are called to involve their employees in defining the objectives; on the other, the workers, who must make themselves responsible and independent concerning their growth path towards the goals expected.
Fundamental characteristics of this way of proceeding are trust and transparency, put in place both by the manager and by the collaborator in reciprocal relationships and interactions.
Having all the pieces of the mosaic available, it is obviously then up to the worker to put them together to obtain the desired result or a favorable balance between smart working and work-life balance. But the manager will have done everything possible to make this happen.
The new role of corporate welfare
One of the shared actions promoted by companies in favor of their employees involves corporate welfare. There is an increasing rethinking of bringing this set of benefits back to the smart working perspective, reviewing past options such as company cars and meal vouchers and replacing them with more current alternatives such as the babysitter bonus, which considers the renewed needs of workers and contemporary families.
Ultimately, the assumption has been internalized that maintaining a correct work-life balance in a smart working context requires continuous contact between the manager and the employee and that respect will be essential for everyone’s needs for the satisfaction of both. In practice, therefore, this urgency must be able to materialize in the offer of data tools supplied by companies to their smart working workers with characteristics such as facilitating remote sharing. In fact, managers must not forget that often those who have found themselves suddenly starting to work in smart working have done so with their own devices, with all the disadvantages that this can create for the worker but also for the company, starting from the limited software or hardware to get to IT security issues.
In any case, as trends show, smart working is a positive and winning choice if an adequate work-life balance is maintained for managers and employees.