The OECD, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, has recently published and keeps on updating a paper about the options for people and companies to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. One of the most interesting points focuses on the necessity of a collaboration “with technology companies to provide SMEs and the self-employed with free and rapid access to communication and sharing tools”.

The intervention of governments of course is pivotal to support and develop teleworking capacities. In many OECD countries regulations permitting teleworking exist, but sometimes they are quite restrictive and could be eased. Plus, an adaptation is needed to help securing jobs and incomes: firms are struggling with a demand shock and some policy options are important to be considered in order to respond to the crisis and maybe even plant a new trend for the future of work.

Among these options, the OECD paper reports: introducing, extending and temporarily relaxing participation and conditionality requirements in short-time work schemes; simplifying procedures and providing easy access to online information for employers; promoting the uptake of online training to invest in the skills of employees during the downturn.

In fewer words, smart working and digital technology are revealing themselves to be key practices during these turbulent times. COVID-19 has been fast-tracking digital transformation initiatives and companies are adjusting their business models consequently. Both smart working and digital technology imply a rethinking of the ways in which work is carried out.

We have talked about smart working and how it is different from just teleworking: it implies a profound cultural change and an evolution of corporate organizational models. Smart Working is closely connected to Digital Transformation: the application of technologies and digital platforms is pivotal to connect people, spaces and business processes.

A digital platform should offer a complete range of innovation, especially now to help companies and workers cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, but also as a new asset for the future of work. In a worldwide 2019 survey, there was already a significant response: a staggering 99% of the 2,500 respondents said they’d like to work remotely at least some of the time. Multiple surveys have shown that offering remote working is key to attracting and retaining the best staff.

Of course there are benefits for businesses: with fewer employees on site, offices are smaller and cheaper to run and staff can be more highly motivated and more productive. However, when employees are distributed between territories, time zones and locations, keeping them engaged becomes very important. Both companies and workers need a platform: the first to increase productivity and improve business, communicate their vision and inspire staff to perform; the latter need essential data and systems, but also ready access to their peers and managers, and they need to feel they are part of something with a bigger purpose.

Smart working isn’t just a recruitment tool or a pillar of business continuity, it’s an essential component in building a business and a digital workplace where everyone is connected and involved, not alienated. This is how the new generation of digital platforms gathers all the benefits of smart working. When White Libra was created, it was very clear what services it would have provided, long before this international crisis: E-learning, Marketing Intelligence, Coaching, Events, Welfare, Payments, Co-working are some of the experiences it provides. The point is responding to the demands of business, for greater agility and ability to flex with a changing world: right now, as the COVID-19 requires to do, but also in the future.

 

Source: OECD (2020), “Supporting people and companies to deal with the Covid-19 virus: Options for an immediate employment and social-policy response”, ELS Policy Brief on the Policy Response to the COVID-19 Crisis, OECD, Paris, http://oe.cd/covid19briefsocial