Fiorella Crespi is the director of the Smart Working Observatory of the Polytechnic of Milan, a centre specialised in studying this new way of working and which aims to be a reference for a culture of innovation in the working models in Italy.
In 1999, the Observatories of Digital Innovation at the Polytechnic of Milan were created to raise cultural awareness in all the principles areas of digital innovation. According to the vision guiding the work of the Observatories, digital innovation is an essential factor in a country’s development.
Nowadays, there are more than 30 observatories distributed in three main areas: "Digital Transformation", "Digital Solutions" and "Vertical", this one analyses the impact of digital innovation on specific sectors and processes. The aim of all observatories is to produce and disseminate knowledge about the potential opportunities and impact of digital technology on companies, authorities and the public.
The Smart Working Observatory was formed officially in 2012 as part of a wider research framework that, for over ten years, has been concerned with studying changes as to how people work. The Observatory proposes to be a point of reference for the development of a culture of innovation in work models within a smart working perspective and for developing methodologies based upon a multidisciplinary approach that can support decision-makers (information technology managers/CIOs, human resource managers and facility managers).
We have had the opportunity to interview its director, Fiorella Crespi, to know the work done by the observatory in the implementation of Smart Working in Italy.
Smart Working in Italy
Fiorella Crespi is originally from Milan, Italy. She's graduated in Management Engineering at Politecnico di Milano and has an Executive Master on Media & Telco at MIP (Politecnico di Milano Business School). She began working at the Observatory of Digital Innovation in 2009, specifically in Communication and Unified Collaboration, and later in Cloud Computing. She is currently the director of the Smart Working Observatory.
When did the Smart Working Observatory start in Italy?
The Smart Working Observatory was officially founded in 2012, within a broader research context of 10 years, as they had been studying the evolution of how people work. We've contributed to defining the concept of Smart Working in Italy, while the most common form of flexibility in companies was teleworking.
The Observatory monitors the dissemination of Smart Working initiatives in Italy and the trajectory of organisational transformation: we focus on large companies (+250 employees), small and medium-sized enterprises (10-249 employees) and the public sector.
As an organisation, What is the most relevant achievement so far?
In Italy, Smart Working adoption is growing, particularly in large companies, where 30% reveals having already adopted this new work approach. The phenomenon is not limited to just businesses: over the last year, Smart Working acquired considerable popularity also among public opinion which goes together with the expanding awareness at an institutional level.
Smart Worker profile
What are the qualities of a potential “smart worker”?
This person must be sufficiently independent in performing its activities. Must be accountable for goals and results, must have the adequate technology to work remotely with efficiency. Finally, this person must have some soft skills such as flexibility and the ability to use technology while keeping a strong sense of community and engagement.
Smart Working in Italy is led by men (68%), according to an infographic made by the Observatory... Is there any particular reason for this?
It depends. Smart Working isn’t only welfare or a way to promote work-life balance for women. It gives opportunities to everyone. To us, Smart Working is a new way to manage organisations, characterised by higher flexibility and independence in choices around working spaces, working hours, and tools. But getting in return a larger accountability for goals and results.
The impact of Smart Working on cities and workplaces
What do you think are the best practices for smart working?
Smart Working is not about companies giving their employees the possibility of working remotely some days a week, but a change in their culture towards a more performance-based one. A culture that gives more freedom to employees in return for more accountability on results. In Italy, there are a lot of best practices in private companies, less in the public sector.
What is the point of view of the staff and managers toward smart working? Is there any resistance?
In some cases, there is opposition by the middle management who are scared to lose control of their collaborators. To avoid this effect, Smart Working must be combined with a training session to promote new leadership styles and organisational behaviour based on trust and accountability.
What is the objective of the investigation about 'enterprise mobility initiatives’?
This particular research is about monitoring the widespread of mobile devices, mobile business app and platforms to manage employees consistently in companies.
And to finish... How do you apply the smart working philosophy in your own professional life?
Thanks to Smart Working, I can organise my activities freely in terms of working hours or place. My bosses give me some annual objectives and they verify the level of achievement every month. I try to do the same with the people that work with me.
If you want to know in more detail the work of all the Observatories of Digital Innovation of the Polytechnic of Milan, you can visit its website: http://www.osservatori.net