Coronavirus has changed the world of work by making dominant a keyword that was unknown to many: smart working, along with some variations such as flexible working, agile working, remote working.
All these seemingly synonymous terms actually hide some subtleties.
Let’s clarify some things.
Flexible working refers to an organisational mode that cannot be framed in a fixed time and place. If we imagine standard work as eight hours a day for five days a week in the office, flexible working is the exact opposite. Flexible working refers to:
- a reduced working time,
- horizontal part-time (a few hours every day),
- vertical part-time (more hours for a few days a week),
- places other than the office,
- “atypical” contracts or freelance work.
It is well understood that flexible working is something that already existed in the world of work before Coronavirus.
This definition is perhaps the most confused with the concept of smart working. Remote working is often referred to as “teleworking” and involves working away from the company’s offices or premises.
It can be considered as working from home, in reality, it is working from anywhere using IT tools that eliminate the distance between the company and the worker.
This is because working from home takes another name, especially in English cultural countries: work from home.
Agile working is not just a way of working away from company headquarters, it is a philosophy of work organisation in which the company hierarchies break down and the workers organise themselves into teams, each with a specific task and responsibilities.
It is therefore a system of work based on collaboration, assignment of tasks according to skills, reduction of downtime and responsibility of each person in order to achieve the best final result.
Smart working meets different definitions depending on where we are. In Italy, for example, it is often translated as “agile working”, as the Ministry of Labour’s website explains:
A mode of execution of the subordinate employment relationship characterised by the absence of time or space constraints and an organisation by phases, cycles and objectives, established by agreement between employee and employer; a mode that helps the worker to reconcile life and work time and, at the same time, to favour the growth of his/her productivity.
The difference with agile working seems to be the existence of a company hierarchy, so much so that the employee agrees with the employer and it is not by chance that this is called subordinate working (i.e. typical of those who have a contract of employment).
The European Commission, on the other hand, remains rather general, arguing that smart working is something that takes on a different meaning depending on the organisation, but in general smart working tends to give the right work-life balance.
It can be said that smart working is precisely a combination of flexible, remote and agile work, i.e. it combines skills with remote workplaces and the ability to organise one’s working life without taking time away from one’s private life, but with the aim of taking advantage of technologies to collaborate, to bridge the gap and achieve the best possible result.
Smart working in the crypto world
Fintech companies, and among them those linked to blockchain and cryptocurrency, have always been pioneers of smart working.
By making decentralization their core business, it goes without saying that work is also decentralized and not linked to the physical location.
But this process has also been accelerated by Coronavirus, and companies with office employees have also made use of smart working, appreciating its benefits, one example being Bitfinex. Coinbase has also chosen remote working for its employees.
In the end, Coronavirus contributed to the spread of a practice that was already becoming common in some sectors. Smart, agile, flexible or remote working is a path from which it is difficult to turn back.