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Reasons why smartworking has not improved people’s lives

One of the few positive innovations related to the pandemic from Covid 19 was the massive and socially accepted use of smartworking, of work from home. But was it really a benefit or rather a poisoned fruit?


Work from home, for some categories, also existed before the pandemic. But it was with the lockdown and the "special period" that we experienced that this tool has extended to almost all sectors. In the beginning, when everything had to be sung and played like the epic deeds of Perseus or Odysseus, even the work from home was hailed as the solution of all problems, such as the golden apple falling from the rotten tree of Covid. The race to fantasize on the subject has led someone to revive the idea of the recovery of villages semi abandoned and located in the marginal territories. And many have ventured into hypothesizing medieval towns in the Apennines polished and full of co-working spaces, with open space offices Google style dominated by billiards and table tennis. 

The reality, as was obvious since then, was completely different. The marginal villages have remained semi-deserted and there has been no revival linked to smartworking. It was yet another betrayed promise, illusory relaunched in the continuous need to create currents, trends and movements on nothing. That then, it was easy to understand since then, if those villages are so sparse and attractive is because they are poorly connected, have no infrastructure and not even services.

So, the hypothetical mountain smartworker, would have to be a kind of hermit, who once a week carried his boards, hand drawn on slate, in the office. Or an artist, a ceramist, but in this case the concept of smartworking has nothing to do with it. The others, those who need an Internet connection, a pharmacy, a supermarket, maybe even a pediatrician, did not even dream of moving to a perched and crumbling village, least of all after the shock of Covid.

But it is the smartworking tool that has been the fruit and victim at the same time of the need to speculate on this bright future that should have expected us when we have all been better. The same premises, on closer inspection, were illusory if not overtly stoned. And it is easy to realize this at the first phone call received from any call center, with the courteous operator who tries to give us some product while in the background you hear her children crying and grandfather claiming lunch. The premises, in fact. It was said that smartworking was ideal for reconciling living and working time, for those who had young children or elderly to look after, homes away from work as well as kindergarten or school.  Too bad, except rare cases of rare work, all this is not compatible. If you really have to look after one or more children under the age of 12, you won’t have time, concentration and energy to work. If you have to look after an old man who’s not in good health, the time to work and deliver that relationship that your boss cares about so much won’t come.

Unless you work at night. Also because, other detail not secondary, smartworking and working remotely are not the same thing: surprise! For a long time it was pretended that the two terms were completely equivalent, a useful synonym for deceiving the masses. In reality, smartworking is a project job: you have a week to deliver a certain work, if you want to work from midnight to six in the morning, better for you. It is quite intuitive that most jobs do not work "for goals" and therefore the benefit of staying at home translates into being at the computer 6-8 hours a day, at home, consuming your own electricity, heating, your own water, your own coffee, without going too far from the phone

@marikatraveltips Quanti come me? 🙄 #smartworking #lavorodaremoto #lavorodacasa #vlog #unagiornataconme #vlogger #Routinequotidiana #Dayinmylife #mentalhealth ♬ Belonging - Muted

This would be called work from home, it sounds much less cool and in fact it is a life-work overlap that generates twice the stress that should take away, finally depriving us of even that minimum of social work that, in some cases, it helps to cope better and with less fatigue the daily shifts.

Reconciling life and work times is a noble goal, how far in time and space. And smartworking doesn’t get that close. Unless, of course...  unless you are a brilliant professional, maybe Milanese, with no children to manage, no elderly to care for, no schools to reach during peak hours. In this case getting up an hour later and working wearing a jacket, tie and boxer (if it’s not winter) can be a significant plus. And here comes the miracle of smartworking!



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios