At the beginning of this year, a large number of companies worldwide still believed that physical assistance to the worker at his or her workplace resulted in increased productivity. In fact, until the beginning of 2020 only 7% of Spanish workers ever teleworked.
The vast majority of companies did not opt for this working model, however, the arrival of COVID-19, confinement and social distancing has forced many companies to transform themselves digitally and adopt new working models to keep operations running.
Faced with this new situation, many companies decided to implement teleworking in order to send their workers to work from home. However, many others wanted to go further, and implemented the so-called Smart Working, a new working model that merges teleworking with new technologies, so that workers are completely autonomous and have all the resources they need to carry out their work in the way they consider best.
Therefore, Smart Working can be defined as a new management philosophy based on giving workers flexibility and autonomy both in the choice of workspace, timetables, as well as the tools to be used, but with greater responsibility for results. It implies rethinking the ways in which work is done, eliminating the limitations derived from being in a fixed space and from traditional office models that are at odds with the principles of personalisation, flexibility and virtuality.
When a company implements teleworking it means that it has its workers working from a specific, stable location, which, although that location is not the office, and it is usually at home, they still have to comply with a series of rules, timetables and continue to use tools established by the company.
In the case of Smart Working, these limitations are overcome, as the worker has absolute freedom to decide at all times where to work from (home, airport, train, coworking, hotel, restaurants, bars, waiting rooms, etc.), even if it is from a different place every day and has absolute mobility; what their working hours will be, which can also be different every day; and what tools they want to use to do their job.
This working methodology is based on trust between the company and the worker, on clear and transparent communication between the two, and on the worker’s compliance with his or her objectives. The aim is not for the worker to work a series of established hours, but rather for him/her to fulfil the objectives that he/she has. In order to achieve this, good coordination is needed on both sides.
Smart Working not only aims to achieve a balance between employees’ work and personal lives, but also to bring about a cultural change and an evolution of corporate organisational models. This requires a detailed, phased roadmap that is consistent with the technological, cultural and management nuances of the organisation.
This is why technology plays a key role. Smart Working requires a digital transformation in the workplace, the application of technologies to connect people, spaces, tools and business processes, to achieve efficiency and effectiveness that maximise productivity while meeting business objectives and priorities.
In any case, the Smart Working methodology has a series of important characteristics that determine what it means:
With all the above, there is no doubt that the Smart Working has many advantages, not only for workers, but also for companies. And it is precisely for this reason that more and more companies in different sectors are deciding to implement this methodology:
However, the Smart Working is not a perfect working model, and it also raises several concerns. Working outside the office can reduce worker commitment by increasing distractions. In addition, by reducing interactions between workers and between workers and their bosses, there is a risk of worker isolation and reduced productivity. Also, blurring the boundaries between work and home can increase overtime and stress levels for employees.
It is true that Smart Working is not a suitable solution for all companies, for example, companies that are facing the public cannot have freedom of time and location, but it is also true that many companies let fear of losing control over employees stop them from deciding not to implement this methodology, and this causes them to lose the many advantages it has.
In the end, it is the companies that decide whether it will be beneficial to implement this working methodology, and if they want to do so they must decide how and in what way. To be able to make this decision better, it is important to know all the models that articulate Smart Working:
The arrival of COVID-19 has been a turning point in the transformation process of companies, and those that were able to react and implement methodologies such as Smart Working have obtained more efficient results, and the impact on business continuity has not been so negative.
Smart Working is a form of teleworking, but more effective and efficient, which focuses on results, and offers a series of benefits for both employees and companies that must be taken into account.
In spite of the circumstances that are being experienced today, it is an opportunity to think, to restart, and to reinvent oneself at a business and individual level. The Smart Work is the new reality, and if it is well implemented, companies will become more productive, competitive and aware. With this methodology, new commercial opportunities will also appear that will make the company prosper and survive extreme situations such as the COVID-19 crisis.
Companies must be aware of the changes they are facing. The new digital era implies many challenges and the ability to adapt companies and teams to a new working culture.