A good proportion of newly ‘remote’ workers believe that smart working is innovation and represents the right way to go in future. This was revealed in a recent study involving 10,000 employees based in 12 different countries including Europe, the Middle East and Russia.
The aim of the survey was to build an overview of people’s experiences of working from home, including the benefits and difficulties encountered. In addition, participants were asked to suggest how companies should invest their 2021 budget in order to optimise performance and resources.
The smart working experience has had a positive impact
Lockdown has forced many companies to re-examine their production methods. Smart working has been an innovative step for many firms and their employees (despite some initial uncertainty) have certainly learnt to appreciate it.
As far as workers interviewed in Italy are concerned, there are two main advantages: the higher level of autonomy (65%) and an improved approach to teamwork, thanks to a more considered distribution and increased awareness of tasks and duties (66%).
If we look at the results in more detail, the survey reveals how 87% of participants expressed the hope of maintaining the extra autonomy they have acquired, even after the end of the pandemic. The wish of those in this percentage group is to be able to have greater flexibility in determining when to work from home and when to attend the office.
There is therefore a real desire to reach a kind of balance between working in the office and smart working, since the two approaches are now considered as essential inter-linked components. The new challenges generated by remote working and the greater trust shown by bosses towards their subordinates, have been significant and positive changes according to 62% and 33% of interviewees respectively.
Another advantage of smart working has been the opportunity to be able to manage one’s working day better. Approximately 61% of participants underlined how working from home has enabled them to take more regular exercise and to spend more time with their families. 48% declared that they would prefer not to have to resume commuting, so they can dedicate the time saved to optimising their production performance.
Smart workers’ views on investments to be made with the 2021 budget
The final part of the survey asked participants to imagine that they were the Managing Director of their firm for one day. This experiment was designed to establish which key areas, according to workers, should be targeted for investment in 2021.
The results that emerged are interesting, with as many as 83% of interviewees suggesting the need to provide workers with the same technology at home as they use in the office. In their experience of smart working, the key factor is being able to work from home without being obliged to make technological compromises (at least 66%).
As regards the specific question about how their company should invest its resources in 2021, workers identified the following key areas:
- Well-planne, targeted investment in technologies to facilitate increased productivity (42%);
- Better healthcare protection in offices, with measures to make the workplace safer (31%);
- Increased professional development opportunities in combination with the development of digital skills (31%);
- General enhancement of IT security (29%).
Although smart working and the innovation it has brought have created high expectations among employees, 41% declared themselves to be highly sceptical as to whether, after the pandemic, these working practices will be maintained. The journey towards conversion has begun, but whether owners and directors decide to continue on it remains to be seen.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith