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COVID-19 Logbook: smart working

COVID-19 Logbook: smart working

Ok, in the end it was not so difficult. That was what I thought on Friday, March 13, 2020, almost twenty days after I gave employees who required it the possibility to work in smart working. The first two weeks, from Februar 24, were discretionary; they could decide whether to come in the office or work from home. From the third week instead, smart working had become mandatory. For the first time all the SPAI personnel worked remotely and I did not know what to expect. I was not used, not seeing or hearing my boys, having that strange feeling of not holding the reins of the company. But in mid-March, I thought it hadn’t been that difficult, that the orders were going ahead and the times were being respected, with the quality of the work remaining high.

While I was reading about companies that were having great difficulties in changing the working method, I retraced, together with my network administrator, some of the technological choices we have made in SPAI since 2016:

  1. Selection of a reliable and competent partner for IT maintenance and support.
  2. Assignment to all employees of an internal number freed from the telephone operator thanks to the VOIP technology.
  3. Installation of an antivirus system on all PCs.
  4. Installation of software on all PCs that allows IT to connect remotely for maintenance.
  5. Creation of a data storage corporate server and corporate application base.
  6. Restructuring of the company network for the definition of the folders and of the document storage and storage procedures.
  7. Transfer of all information from individual PCs to the server.
  8. Implementation of a structured and redundant backup system with remote data hosting.
  9. Upgrading the Internet connection in download and upload.
  10. Definition of a user hierarchy according to folder and file access policies.
  11. Total and progressive replacement of fixed PCs with laptops.
  12. Selection of the most reliable software and approval of all company machines.
  13. Creation of a VPN network for a remote and controlled access to the company network.
  14. Installation of a firewall to protect access from outside.
  15. Centralisation of antivirus on the server for automatic and controlled updating of individual machines.
  16. Progressive replacement and development of strategic software with web design products that must be shared remotely by all employees.
  17. Selection of tools for remote communication shared at company level.
  18. Changing operating procedures by replacing normal personal contacts with remote calls.

My network administrator, after reminding me these steps one by one, confirmed me that if SPAI had managed to maintain the same efficiency in smart working mode, it was not for a stroke of luck, but it was the result of a series of considered choices. It is difficult to reach a goal by improvisation, you have to be far-sighted. You must never think that you have arrived; you can be ready for today, but tomorrow is unknown and you have to be prepared.

But there is another important factor to consider when switching to remote working modes: the change of mentality in the relationship between owner and employees and between employees themselves.

There is no longer a visual control over the presence and operation of the worker. The risk is that doubts and questions begin to grow in your mind: are they working or doing something else? Have they reached the hours they were supposed to be doing today? Are they not writing with the television on? Legitimate and obvious doubts for those who, in a company and in its staff, have invested so much.

There are several methods to “control” who works in smart working. More or less efficient software, able to monitor activity on a PC with great precision in order to understand if the one who has access to that computer is really working and has not, instead, positioned a robot or a cat to tap the letters on the keyboard!

Joking apart, these software are there and do their duty, but this is not where the game is played, in my opinion. The smart working game is won on a mentality level. The owner and the employees have to change the way they operate and relate, the cornerstones of the relationship are no longer the canonical hours of work, but must become the goals to be achieved, the high quality to be guaranteed.

I cannot know if my employee has worked 6, 8 or 10 hours that day, but I will not have to worry about that; the important thing is that he has achieved the goals he had set for that day and, if he has not succeeded, he will share with me any problems that may have emerged.

Trust and a sense of responsibility, these are the key points for successful smart working.

In addition to technology, but we have already talked about that.

A big thank you to Palomar s.r.l. that in these years has accompanied us in this path of improvement and has been present also, but above all, in a moment like this one.

Fabio Farneti

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels