The debate over smart working vs the office is hotting up in many Italian companies. The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the once clear distinction between home and office, familiar to us all since the era of the industrial revolution, thereby demonstrating how it is possible to be productive even in a domestic setting.
The impact of smart working has been so great that many businesses are struggling to return to normality, while some are not even planning to do so at all. The benefits of this approach (especially in certain sectors) are undeniable, but is the office really a thing of the past?
Smart working vs the office: which is more productive?
One of the prime objectives of any company is to maintain a constant standard of production, sufficient to avoid the company making a loss. Although not all businesses can afford to decentralize the workplace by adopting a smart working policy (due to certain limitations, whether physical or resource related), those who are able to choose find themselves faced with a serious of different factors to consider.
Production quality can be developed in terms of value rather than quantity. Recent studies have shown how working from home (when compared with working in a traditional workplace) acts as a stimulus for staff to carry out their duties to a higher standard.
This point takes becomes particularly relevant when the worker has to focus on complex tasks, requiring a high level of concentration. In such cases, the results are clearly better than what would have been achieved in the office, as there is no social pressure from superiors or colleagues.
In some studies regarding the psychological aspects of workplaces however, workers were more productive when working as a team, providing that the projects undertaken were not too complex. In that kind of situation, a traditional workplace can provide better results because it is based on one of the fundamental features of human nature: the need to socialise.
It should also be noted that the choice of a ‘smart’ approach is closely linked to the worker’s own inclinations. Each person is different and the circumstances in which they feel at ease vary considerably from one person to another. Companies wishing to maximise their results must therefore bear in mind the personalities of their employees.
Advantages of smart working over working in an office
As well as production considerations, there many other pros and cons to consider in the debate on smart working versus the office. As already mentioned, the main advantage of working from home is the considerable reduction in stress. The opportunity to avoid commuting and the added costs of parking and fuel contribute to making the working experience more serene and productive.
Not being bound by rigid timetables allows staff to organise their daily routine better, working only on what is necessary and for the amount of time required. On the other hand, such a high level of freedom can lead to a greater risk of becoming distracted compared to workers based in a traditional office.
Finding the right balance between smart working and the office is not easy, especially in Italy where the idea of work is strongly linked to a more traditional concept. The forced lockdown has in any case highlighted the possibility of a more intelligent approach to carrying out professional duties, particularly those requiring the development of creative ideas.
In conclusion, we could say that remote working plays a crucial role in companies’ survival, but they must, in any case, focus on innovation. It is essential to overcome outdated concepts and give sufficient attention to people and creative processes, while providing staff with suitable work spaces (both at home and in the office).
Translated by Joanne Beckwith