Face to face, talking about remote working
A more intelligent way of working is undoubtedly everybody’s dream. Flexibility, autonomy and personal responsibility are at the heart of “smart working,” a term that’s more than just a synonym for remote working. The Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, in fact, defines "Smart Working performing the subordinate working relationship characterised by the absence of temporal or spatial restrictions and an organisation in phases, cycles and goals, established through an agreement between employee and employer that, at the same time, fosters improved productivity”.
The location in which the work takes place is not the only thing to change, therefore. The concept involves a whole new managerial philosophy: a way of working that is indeed “smarter.”
A trend that had already begun
With the Covid-19 health emergency, the number of people smart working in Italy has skyrocketed, just as it has in many other parts of the world. In this country, at the end of April 2020, there were more than 1.8 million people smart working, of whom more than 1.6 million (almost 90%) were doing so for the first time.
The health emergency effectively turbocharged a trend that had already begun. A survey conducted in 2018 by InfoJobs, Italy’s leading online jobsearch platform, forecast that by the end of 2020 smart working would be adopted by 51% of Italian companies.
Our Group had already introduced smart working back in 2016 and in 2020 we extended this possibility, taking the overall numbers to a whole new level in order to respond to the emergency and to keep our employees safe. In total the number of our employees smart working in the countries in which we operate increased 13 fold, reaching a total of 37 thousand people, equal to 55% of total staff.
Our presence in more than 30 countries across five continents encourages the sharing of positive experiences between one context and another, and this also occurred in this case. The successful implementation of smart working in Italy was gradually replicated in Spain, Greece, Romania, Russia, the United States and Latin America.
The vision of our CEO and our Chair
People, our energy
“The main thing we have learnt is to stop and think, setting aside the stress of continuous transfers from one place to another and the sacrifices made in the name of hypermobility. This would suggest that the resources deployed should be used also to improve people’s lives, facilitating a more sustainable lifestyle,” explained Francesca Di Carlo, the Enel Group’s Head of People and Organization.
Flexibility is a key concept in smart working, both in terms of working hours and the organisation of one’s tasks. Greater choice means greater responsibility: the focus is on the project to complete or the goal to achieve rather than respecting specific working hours. The employee has the task of organising his or her time and consequently the responsibility to complete the task. This awareness did not disappear with the return to normality and is an opportunity worth taking in the future.
Communication and resilience
In moments like these, managing communications – be they external or internal – is even more important for positioning the company in terms of resilience and sustainability.
Our Group has not lacked challenges in this area - creativity, sharing and brainstorming have been our response to the health emergency.
Thanks to digital tools, we have found the key to reducing the distance between us through a model of working in a more structured way, one that is clearer, planned in greater detail, and that places people at the centre.
Quality of life, values and sustainability
The advantages of smart working are numerous, beginning with improving the quality of life, thanks to enabling a better balance between work and private life.
Cutting the number of people commuting to work reduces traffic, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions: the result is a clear boost to sustainability, especially in cities. There are also notable savings in terms of time. All of these benefits are appreciated by the majority of people, as confirmed by an internal Enel survey: the results revealed that those employees involved were particularly satisfied.
Greater personal responsibility also encourages the perception of feeling part of a shared project. Consequently, productivity also rises: this was confirmed by the data from the Polytechnic University of Milan’s Smart Working Observatory, which calculated an increase in productivity of 15%.
Our Group did not choose smart working as an isolated tool, but as part of a broader strategy to help our employees during an exceptional situation. We also considered those who work on site, launching the social solidarity initiative “Banca delle ferie” (The leave bank): thanks to an agreement with the unions, all employees were able to donate one or more of their leave days to their colleagues who are unable to perform their tasks remotely.
Digitalised, therefore, enabled
For many companies, the sudden introduction of smart working for 37 thousand people would not have been easy. In our Group it was more straightforward because years ago we had set out on an important journey of digitalisation for the IT innovations that we had already adopted.
A decisive stage in this journey was the achievement of “full cloud” in 2019: we were the world’s first utility to have fully (100%) adopted the use of IT services installed on the computers of a specialised provider. This efficient operational model has led to a technological and cultural revolution.