Smart Working in the age of Covid-19

By Renato Uggeri

Having regained relevance in this Covid-19 period, Smart Working or agile work has been defined in the Official Gazette as “a way of carrying out a subordinate employment relationship established by agreement between the parties, including forms of organisation by phases, cycles and objectives and without precise time or workplace constraints, with the possible use of technological tools for performing the activity”.
This is a form of work which offers unquestionable benefits, such as the reduction of pollutant emissions, an increase in productivity and a reduction in sick leave, as well as the possibility of achieving a better balance between work and private life.
However, there are also risks, because remote and agile work can lead to a reduced transfer of information between the workforce and the social isolation of the worker. The path that led to the approval of the current legislation began in 2014 with a legislative proposal aimed at giving greater flexibility to the labour market, in which the term “agile work” was introduced. The proposal was then relaunched in a bill linked to the Stability Pact 2016 to complete the labour market reform initiatives (Jobs Act). During the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Government issued a number of legal provisions to encourage the adoption of agile work by simplifying some of the provisions of Law no. 81/2017. These measures created a disruptive effect. While at the end of 2019 in Italy only 3.6% of those employed between the ages of 15 and 64 used to work from home, today it is possible to estimate a staggering growth up to peaks of between 45% and 50% of employees in Italy. The trend continues, because the most recent studies have shown
the advantages of agile work also as a barrier aimed at preserving social distancing.