Also called ‘agile work’, the meaning of smart working is not immediate. The idea of it is that it allows you to carry out your work free from the physical presence of your company or abiding to rigid working hours.
There are places that are equipped to allow workers to carry out their activities using workstations that are geographically located in places close to their home – without having to physical go to the company that can sometimes be several kilometres away.
Even before the Coronavirus emergency, the numbers of smart workers in Italy had already exceeded half a million people. Today, more than ever, the concept of “smart working” coincides with the the broader meaning of “working from home” and many companies and organisations are discovering this possibility.
Clearly not all work can be done from home, but a lot of “concept” work these days can continue thanks to the use of new technologies. Very often, having a computer is enough to continue working even without going to the company itself. Meetings with colleagues have been replaced by “video calls”, e-mail and document sharing and access to company software has increased productivity – sometimes at a faster pace than before.
Many tasks are being carried out in this way and there are professionals who have long organised their lives to work “from home”. For example, think of the many web experts software designers, journalists, writers or business consultants and many others who work from home.
However, this period presents a strong psychological impact to manage. Moreover, with the closure of schools, smart working can turn into a real hell.
To help, here is a series of useful tips, collected thanks to the experiences of those who work from home by profession.
Don’t think you can work without a break on your project, however tempting the idea of having “all the time” to finish your book, or your “software that will revolutionise the world” may seem. Set a working schedule and remember that you’ll always have the advantage of being able to get to your “office” in a split second. Also, don’t start working before you’ve finished breakfast and give yourself a proper break for lunch.
It’s too easy to think that the ideal place to work is a comfortable desk and ergonomic chair, but not everyone has a home office. The kitchen table might be a great alternative although it’s also a place kept busy with other common activities. Working and eating, working and kneading, working and doing homework are not easy activities to combine, so someone has identified the sofa as a designated place for relaxing moments of work.
The rules are simple, and easy to follow, and depend a lot on the sofa you own.Starting with a simple test, you should try to find the ideal position, which is not the same for everyone, and depends on your back and on your sofa. Perhaps the best position is sitting, with your feet touching the ground, your back straight and the computer on your knees, but it could also be with your legs outstretched, or even crossed. Let the experience guide you and change position every now and then until you find the position that will make your work from home, your new comfort experience.
There’s no avoiding the fact that it is not easy to manage the presence of small children during working hours and that you will never have full concentration. The most important thing to solve is their presence during phone calls, and mainly, video calls at work.The solution to the problem is simple, do not bring the problem.Anyone who has experienced these difficulties, has, after a while, realised that a ‘problem shared is a problem halved’ and that those you’re speaking with during such moments will be extremely understanding – especially if they are in the same situation as you. The important thing is to not make your little ones feel like a problem. Remember, no one can ever afford to burden you with your discomfort.
Another little trick for those moments of concentration when, for example, you have to write something important, is to recite aloud what you are writing. It sounds trivial, but when you look at a person who is focused on the computer, they seem totally absent and absorbed in something trivial and they can even seem to think they are more important than those around them. Fight this prejudice by sharing the moment and creating a correspondence between the real world and the “useless” e-mail you are writing.
Take a break every hour because though working on the computer is intense, it is also physically debilitating because we spend hours where we only move a few muscles. Stretching for a few minutes now and then will help you maintain concentration and you will not have pain due to the atrophy of your muscles. There is also actually a real discipline called ‘Sofa Workout’, or ‘couch gymnastics’, which, especially in the case of smart working, is absolutely effective.
Computers generally have an internal cooling system. Thanks to fans, fresh air enters through a few slits and after passing through the internal circuits and absorbing the heat, it comes out again. It is very important to leave both the air inlet and outlet free. Obstructing these passages can cause your device to overheat, and thus cause damage. Some notebooks even run the risk of burning the legs on which they are resting.
The latter is not a suggestion, but more a prescription, which means that though it is true that you cannot leave the house except for urgent reasons (as widely publicised) it does not mean that you cannot look out from the balcony or window.
Whilst looking for this chance, remember that smart working is an activity that forces you to spend a lot of time in front of a computer and you must not deprive your eyes of the pleasure of looking over 30 centimetres away. Take breaks and try to steal the pleasure of a few rays of sunshine or look away in the true sense of the word. Our eyes are made to have a stereoscopic view of the world, a view that our monitors do not allow.
Smart working could lead you to reconsider the pleasure of queuing at the ring road toll booth and if you can find your own personal way of working from home in the future, you might even devote your outings to pleasure and save money and stress due to unnecessary travel. In fact, it is thought that many companies will consider turning some jobs into smart working positions and, so, if you fall into this potential category, you might consider this period as a training. After this difficult time, working from home will certainly become more enjoyable.