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il lavoro da casa è la nuova normalità - parte 1: la produttività

Covid19 has pushed businesses all over the world to adopt homeworking. However, it was not always set up in the ideal way: from IT tools to management style to how the remote workers are working. Things were implemented in a rush. In this blog series, we will unfold working from home in all its aspects.

This blog post is part one, we’ll have a look at how/why remote work is believed to increase employee productivity, the cultural differences, and what it takes to optimize ‘productive’ work from home. In subsequent blog posts, we’ll cover other angles such as legal frameworks, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), management styles, cost optimizations, etc.

I have been working from home on a very regular basis in the past years. Living a roughly 90-minute drive from the office helped, of course. Remote working became my new normal a long time ago.

That said, it did not include to ‘never’ go into the office and not having any type of face-to-face contact with other office workers, like my team. It also didn’t include having my young kids running around the house while I’m working. I’m assuming the COVID-19 measure are temporary by nature, but also that the current peak in forced working from home will have consequences in the way we’ll work in the future. In other words, I’m convinced that the adoption of employees working remotely will grow with a hybrid model as result – so let’s do it right.

Boost productivity

Jumping right into the subject. Remote workers with a flexible workspace policy (home, office, anywhere) are claimed to be more productive working from home. From personal experience, I agree with the claim: saved commuting time, lower stress levels, easier to stay focused, a higher threshold for people to interrupt you, etc.

We will talk about those drivers for success below. I’m not alone in feeling more productive when regularly working at home: an IWG Survey from March 2019 shows respondents tend to be very positive about the relationship between productivity and a flexible workspace /homeworking. 37% of respondents even claim to be 40% more productive when working remotely. Increased productivity when working from home is a fact. 

% degli uomini d'affari (scala di destra) che riportano l'aumento di produttività (scala di sinistra) che si ritiene sia dovuto a una politica di spazi di lavoro flessibili

Nessun effetto

Lavoro da casa: per chi?

Clearly, not every job can be operated from a home office. Where in some countries there are experiments with remote doctor appointments, I can’t see a nurse giving remote instructions on how to draw blood. Bus drivers, construction workers, etc. are not in the possibility to work from home either.

It is typically a perk for knowledge workers (white collar workers) and people that get most of their work done on a computer. In the US, the World Economic Forum estimates “circa un quarto (24%) dei lavoratori in occupazioni "manageriali, commerciali e finanziarie" - come dirigenti aziendali, manager IT, analisti finanziari, contabili e assicuratori - hanno accesso al telelavoro. Così come il 14% dei lavoratori "professionali e affini", come avvocati, progettisti di software, scienziati e ingegneri".

Tuttavia, "solo il 7% dei lavoratori civili negli Stati Uniti, o circa 9,8 milioni dei circa 140 milioni di lavoratori civili della nazione, hanno accesso a un beneficio di 'luogo di lavoro flessibile', o telelavoro", secondo il 2019 National Compensation Survey (NCS) del Bureau of Labor Statistics federale.

As the graphs below show, there are multiple variables that create a platform for flexible and work from home: the industry you work in and the role you are in matter. So does the size of the company: larger organizations tend to enable homeworking more broadly. There are cultural differences as well. In the next chapter we will have a look at differences between countries.

What are tips & tricks for homeworking?

I consigli di Arnaud per il lavoro da casa

La maggior parte delle persone saranno d'accordo che sono più produttive quando lavorano a casa. Questo contesto è molto personale. Lasciatemi condividere 10 consigli che mi aiutano ad ottenere il massimo dai miei giorni di lavoro a casa:

    1. Farsi una doccia, vestirsi: you’re going to work, it’s just not in an office environment. You won’t catch me working in my PJs! It’s important to try to make a distinction from your home life to stay focused.

    2. A quiet office with natural light: Ho il lusso di avere 2 uffici in casa mia. Uno è integrato nel soggiorno e lo uso la sera, quando non ci sono chiamate, o quando non c'è nessuno in casa. L'altro ufficio è isolato dal mondo e libero da distrazioni e rumori. Questo è davvero l'ufficio predefinito per me.

    3. 3 monitor: with 2 external monitors connected to my laptop, I’m even ‘better’ equipped in my home setting than in the office.

    4. Scrivania pulita: Non mi piace il disordine sulla scrivania. Pulisco almeno ogni due giorni. L'unica cosa che troverete è una penna o 2, della carta (per gli scarabocchi) e una bottiglia d'acqua.

    5. Musica: I’ve always worked with music on the background. It helps me focus and stay productive. To that point, in the office, I often have a headset playing music. So when working from home, I’ll do it the same way.

    6. Riunioni online con video: Proprio per la natura del mio lavoro, faccio tonnellate di riunioni online con persone in tutto il mondo. Mi piace vedere le persone durante una riunione, e, quindi, non ho il mio "video on".

    7. Pianificazione: every week I try to plan ahead and block time in my agenda for focus tasks. These are tasks that will take longer than 30’ and that require to get ‘into the zone’ in order to get things done. Every morning, I review and adjust my agenda. It also helps in setting expectation to others that might depend on my work. This way everyone can stay productive during the working hours and planning also helps for the work life balance.

    8. Messaggistica istantanea, attivo: Come detto, sono abituato a lavorare su 3 monitor. Uno di questi monitor avrà di default il mio Slack, WhatsApp e Teams aperto. Mi rendo conto che questo in realtà non dovrebbe essere una best practice in quanto crea distrazione. Questo è probabilmente vero. Mi aiuta solo a non sentirmi isolato e ad essere ancora in qualche modo integrato nel team.
    9. Orologio Samsung: As most employees know, sitting still all day isn’t great for health. My watch reminds me to get up, take a walk to get some fresh air and do some regular exercise in my free time.

    10. Pianificare un F2F con la squadra almeno una volta a settimana: the above are all linked to working at home. But equally important for me is to have actual F2F time planned on a weekly basis to stay connected with my co workers. So business managers, check in with your team!

    11. Usare i giusti strumenti di gestione del progetto: it’s important that you use software that enables your teams to collaborate, plan, make a to do list, analyze and manage everyday tasks. A favorite of mine is nTask Manager – it helps in simplifying project management, organizing our workflows and working hours, focusing on the important tasks first, track our progress and ensure that the entire team is on the same page! Curious? You can request a demo qui.

Velocità diverse in paesi diversi

If we look at the European Union, there are vast differences between countries in the adoption of working remotely. Data collected by Eurostat below – as collected by Merchant Savvy – shows the evolution of employees that occasionally work from home over the span of 10 years.

The differences can in part be explained by the unique mix of industries in each country (i.e. countries with more knowledge workers could logically have a higher number of employees work remotely compared to countries with more blue-collar workers in manufacturing). This reasoning doesn’t always apply. Sweden, for example, has a relatively large manufacturing industry yet is leading the pack in (occasional) working from home.

La disponibilità di infrastrutture di telecomunicazione e IT, la cultura, lo stile di leadership, ecc. spiegheranno le differenze per paese.

Eurostat: evoluzione del lavoro occasionale a domicilio nell'UE

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