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I realize that much of the world is currently dealing with the new reality of trying to work from home. I have been working from home now for about 16 months, and with the exception of a handful of trips to meet with some of our business clients, a couple visits to GreenVulcano Technologies offices as well as some re-energizing visits with my family in the beautiful country of Italy.

I too had to go through some adjustments in order to not lose my sanity. I have learnt a few things even before the Covid-19 crisis that I would love to share with you.

#1 Commit to your space

First it is important to pick and create your new workspace. Whatever location you chose, make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional work area. When creating this new space, there are several factors to consider. You should invest in the right chair; your lower back can be under constant amounts of high stress which could create fatigue and possibly discomfort over time. Make sure that the lighting is adequate and oh, one side note here…  if normally you need to wear glasses to read, please do so. People on the other side of your webcam will notice if you tend to be blind like me and you’re not using your glasses! Do a nice job with the wiring of your laptop and chargers. Purchase a phone stand (less than $10 on Amazon), it will change your life and plus you will know where your phone is at all times.

#2 Get dressed up!

I never changed my routine, except for maybe the time that my alarm clock is set to wake me up in the morning. One benefit with the new reality is I get to wake up a little later since I don’t have to assist the children before they would normally leave for school. Pros: I sleep longer and my migraine count is much lower. Cons: you get the temptation to lay in bed for hours. Just don’t! I take my shower and get dressed up as if I had to go to the office. I usually wear my jeans and the company hoodie as much as I can.

# 3 Videoconferencing with style

Don’t forget to check your background.I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate…” (cit.) 😊 Always use the earbuds: they will help you to focus on the videocall/meeting. They will also help you to hear and be heard by all the participants who don’t use them.

Follow the golden rules:

  1. Mute yourself when not speaking.
  2. Be on time.
  3. Check if all works correctly.
  4. Fully engage remote participants.
  5. Choose the proper software and hardware.
  6. Wear work-appropriate clothing.
  7. Frame the camera correctly.
  8. Have the right light.
  9. Look into the camera.
  10. Pay attention.


#4 Spoil yourself

Make sure the fridge has your favorite juice or sparkling water. Set some time for a quick and healthy snack (I prefer fresh fruit, but I also drink a lot of expressos in those few minutes between meetings: please don’t judge me😊). You should build your dream office as if you were (and you are) your own CEO.

Buy some plants with flowers and consider some wall hangings with the pictures of your best friends and family members to remind you of why you are working in the first place. Try using scented candles.

#5 Agree on the rules

One of the things that make the current situation a bit different than usual is that with the majority of the world under lockdown, there’s a good chance that you are not alone in the home office. It’s possible that your kids and spouse are dealing with some of the same challenges: home schooling, remote working, chatting with friends via internet, etc. This can all work ok if you agree ahead of time on some basic rules and scheduling. There is a time to work, a moment to break, there is lunch possibly together and time to be quiet. At night we will all celebrate together and have fun, but during the busy times we all need to be courteous to the rules. Not surprisingly, children adapt faster than grown-ups do to these new situations. You might find that your biggest confrontations will be with your husband/wife and not the kids. Be patient!

#6 Declutter

Clean your desk of the historical clutter. Trash the things you have not been using for ages and move anything non-essential somewhere else. You will be so proud.

7 Exercise

I am very lazy. I used to play soccer back in Italy twice or three times a week. Here in Boston there’s no such a thing as having futsal fields every other block. Plus, the weather can be terribly cold. Since gyms are also in lockdown, I try to walk almost every day or anytime it is possible. Thirty minutes of walking helps to remind me that there is a real world spinning around my desk. Moreover, I alternate the walks with my wife and one of my children to catch up a little bit more with our little life stories that I share with my kids or those moments of intimacy (or what remains of it) that can be shared with my wife. The kids really love the one on one time and will probably be one of the things that they remember the most when they look back to these days in the future!
Also, I am also told by my good friend Michael D., who is the opposite of lazy, that there’s a lot of yoga on Youtube and that may help with your back. Since I am out of excuses, I will have to give it a try.

#8 Keep up the small talk

We always start every meeting with 5 minutes of pure fun. Share with your colleagues what happened to you the day before and let’s laugh together. Don’t be shy, open up. It will make for a better meeting and a good time with good people who you get to know a little bit better each day.

#9 Tech support

There is nothing worse than a slow laptop or a hesitating mouse pointer on your screen. Your laptop or desktop is your companion. It needs to be in good health. If you need support, contact your company magicians for they can help you! Spend some time cleaning your folders. If you’re not currently working on the cloud, make sure to backup your important stuff. Uninstall all the unused software from your disk, and don’t forget to keep the anti-virus software updated.

Oh, by the way, clean your keyboard and your screen with a proper spray and cloth. It will shine like brand new!

#10 Think positive

I smile as much as I can. I am among the few who can work from home and I am fortunate to be able to make a living from it and for that I am grateful! Offices, restaurants, airports, bars will reopen one day soon and things will return to a place that we all desire to see again but until then we are simply working from home in our new reality and we are surrounded by the people we love. Remember, postponing a trip today doesn’t mean we are cancelling it forever.


I found more time to talk to my mom and my brother even if they are 4,089 miles away and ironically, in some way, we are now closer than ever.

Live long and prosper.

Gianfranco

PS: thank you, Michael DeJadon, for editing this in proper English 😉

OPEN SPACE’s model seems to have failed. The open and shared workspace that appeared to be the answer to the solitary and alienating routine is not effective, and it also has deleterious effects on productivity.
Spread in recent years to improve teamwork and encourage a constant stream of ideas among colleagues, it now seems to give way to new solutions.

The futurologist Nicola Millard, an expert in emerging data, analysis and technologies, has predicted that employees will become “backpackers” that, armed with laptops or tablets, will collaborate in small groups remotely.
At the New Scientist Live in London, she explained her theory: “the open space offices are a model that does not fit anyone, we are interrupted every three minutes, there are too many distractions”.

In the coming years, traditional offices will be a memory, and we will increasingly orient towards more fluid and “smart” solutions.

We can find a clue about this happening in Italy. Only a few days ago, thanks to the experimentation started last July, Osmar’s employees will be able, through individual agreements, to work outside the company’s plant.

Smart Working represents a tremendous cultural change deriving from the mission to reconcile the work-life balance.
“Smart workers” won’t have a time card and are going to enjoy complete autonomy. As for previous “industrial revolution” that will bring many advantages but also important challenges that the company must be prepared to face.

We interviewed various experts and made them some question starting from the recently approved law of Smart Working.

The Smart Working law

With the law “Lavoro agile” (n.81/2017), Smart Working has been institutionalized in Italy, and each employee now has the opportunity to perform subordinate work flexibly, away from the company premises. The law also applies to all public administrations.

This law is aimed at employees or managers and is based on mobile technologies such as tablets and smartphones.

“Agile workers” obtain equal treatment – economic and regulatory – compared to colleagues who perform the service with ordinary methods. Therefore, they have protection in case of accidents and illnesses, according to the methods illustrated by INAIL in the circular n. 48/2017.

In particular, the definition of Smart Working emphasizes the organizational flexibility, the voluntariness of the parties that sign the individual agreement and the use of instruments that allow remote work (such as laptops, tablets and smartphone).

Be careful: agile work is not a new type of work contract, but only a way to execute the subordinate relationship. This will carry out partly within the company premises and partly outside, without a fixed location, within the limits of working hours established by law and collective bargaining.

To start this “smart” working relationship, a written contract is required between the parties: it can be either fixed-term or indefinite, but always with the unilateral possibility of the employee to withdraw.

Agile work from 2013 to 2016 grew by 40% in Italy. According to a research carried out by the Smart Working Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano: the Italian smart workers are now more than 300,000 or about 8% of the total number of employees, managers and executives. Large companies are more interested in agile workers (30% realized ad hoc projects in 2016) than small and medium-sized businesses.

Smart Working is, therefore, a new approach to the way of working and collaborating within a company and involves three necessary steps:
1) review the employment relationship from the number of hours worked to the objectives to be achieved.

2) the relationship between manager and employee must pass from control to trust.
3) review workspaces in a smart key: with cloud technology and portable devices, the desk becomes virtual.

Agile work puts the person at the center of the organization with the aim of making his personal and professional goals converge with those of the company and increase productivity.

Italian companies, large and medium, have welcomed the new law, which has included in a regulatory framework a practice long ago already widespread in many multinationals, and has accelerated its adoption in many others, with an increase of 14% the number of smart workers in Italy, from 240,000 in 2016 to 305,000 in 2017 (source Observatory SmartWorking Politecnico di Milano).

Conclusions

We hope that at the end of this article, you have become familiar with the Smart Working topic and are already thinking about how to start it in your company.
This article is the first of a two-part series. The second will be more specific on the main difficulties of those companies implementing a remote work project, giving examples of successful implementation both internationally and nationally. Besides, if you have any doubt or question, feel free to write us at marketing@greenvulcano.com