Smart technologies are deeply changing the working habits of most organisations and offices, and disruptive effects will be far more obvious shortly. IDC forecasted that about two-thirds of business managers in Europe would need to collaborate with fully remote staff by 2023. Large companies are ahead of this trend, specifically in industries such as finance, telco, energy, and transportation, but SMBs and public bodies are also looking at it.
When effectively implemented, smart working has important benefits both for the employer and the employees, as it leads to increased staff productivity, improved satisfaction, and engagement, reduced absenteeism. Seeking a better work-life balance, people can also take advantage of greater autonomy and new performance evaluation methods, that will measure their results and the value they bring to the business, rather than the time spent at their desks. While innovating HR and compensation policies, organisations can also contain some costs, for instance by optimising office spaces and redesigning physical layouts. Moreover, above all, improve their reputation towards Generation Y (the ‘Millennials’) and Z talents, nowadays reluctant to consider employers that do not allow agile working.
However, we should not forget that smart working is much more than remote, delocalised contributors. It’s the opportunity to transform workflows and processes and enable digital workplaces where people will be encouraged to collaborate and share knowledge regardless of their working place or time.
This dynamic scenario has three main technological requirements: the availability of reliable mobile devices and broadband connectivity, the digitalisation of critical business services and data sources to allow seamless access from anywhere at any time, and the development of adequate IT services to support remote users and their activities. Many companies are therefore investing in implementing such digital workplaces and related technological platforms, possibly integrating some AI-based tools to boost selected processes, and social features to further engage people.
For IT professionals, smart working might result in some additional complexity to be managed, with the need to increasingly focus on cloud and mobile applications, collaboration and communication systems. However, as service brokers of software-based IT and corporate support, they will play a fundamental role in the smart working evolution.
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