WORK FROM HOME BECOMES AGILE
Country: Italy. Portrait of a mum. Many names, many faces, loads of lives. From Lombardy to Sicily it makes no difference: returning to work after the birth of a child for Italian women is always problematic, even in those regions where usually female occupation is greater than the national average.
But there are some who fly in the face of this and give value to the balance of people’s lives. Here at Interlogica winds of change are blowing. The company listens to people and tries to implement innovative tools to improve the quality of personal and working life of each employee.
It seems almost utopia. It’s a reality.
At the end of the day the company was founded many years ago by a group of hacker geeks, screw-ups just enough, but with an ethical basis that has always distinguished their choices in terms of management of people. The same ethics that pushes them to commit themselves and try to change the rules of the game in everyday choices.
The mother we’re talking about is called Barbara. She is a young graduate in languages, had an internship at Interlogica alongside the Marketing Team just to start, and signed for a full-time job soon after. A son, the first, at 25 y.o., in contrast to the average age of childbirth of Italian women (31.7 years).
WORK/LIFE BALANCE IS TEAMPLAY
Just 4 months ago Barbara became Leonardo’s mother and has tightened with her company a temporary and flexible Home Working agreement, which grants her the opportunity to work 100% from home for the first months of her son’s life; after that she will have the chance to gradually and flexibly get back to work in the office.
Basically, Barbara will alternate days of Home Working with days in the office, with the possibility of being by the side of her child when needed. In return, she agrees to ensure, together with her Team, the achievement of the goals set.
Barbara and Interlogica believe they can come up with, over time, a mixed work solution, some from home and some in the office, with two clear purposes: allow the organization to implement its projects and let her experience a motherhood worthy of that name.
WHEN LEAVING IS NOT THE ONLY OPTION
Barbara’s words can explain better than a thousand guesses: “Leo was born in April, I was due to go back to work in early July, I had no choice. I have to say that I really love dealing with Marketing and Digital Communication, I would have bent backward to keep THAT job, in THAT company. I live in Vittorio Veneto, 50 kms away, and I knew that returning full time with a three-month-old son would have been almost impossible; I had taken seriously the possibility of leaving. But I didn’t want to accept the idea of quitting without trying to reconcile work and motherhood.”
As with Barbara, the problem affects tons of new mothers, and statistics in Italy speak clearly: in 2016 – according to the latest data of labor inspectorates – at least 30,000 women resigned on maternity.
The situation of the nursery school does not resolve things too: 22 and a half spots every 100 requests; well below the strategic goal of the 33 indicated by the European Union. Should we really talk about that “33” as well?
HOME WORKING MUM: FROM THE IDEA TO THE PILOT PROJECT
“In our company” Barbara goes on “there is a team that takes care of staff – the People Team – which has the ultimate task of managing all issues related to Human Resources, or rather, to People.” Yes, because we don’t like to call them that name. “Sketched the idea with People we immediately presented it to the CEO who had no doubts – ‘ Let’s try! ‘, he told us, ‘ Make this experience become a pilot project, we’ll adjust things on the way if we have to. ‘ – so we started to jot down the agreement and on July 6 we set off.”
“DIFFICULT” DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN “IMPOSSIBLE”: RECONCILE FAMILY LIFE AND WORK COMMITMENTS
Just to be clear, I’m not saying it’s easy. Of course there are roles that necessarily require their physical presence in the company and for whom it would not be possible to work remotely, except occasionally. Barbara’s role doesn’t, that’s why such willingness to start testing “the case”.
It is worth remembering that Home Working it’s the prelude of Smart Working, work outside the corporate premises that more and more workers are calling loud for.
Implementing Smart Working requires a change of cultural pace, before that of the organization of work. Not all companies are willing to do that, that’s where the most important difficulty lies. Once one has figured that out, the first step is taken, everything else can be built one piece at a time.
Starting the Home Working project for just one Team member had not been a piece of cake. But the initial extra effort did not desist anyone.
There had been hitches and mishaps. Does anyone remember the day the Team forgot calling Barbara for a meeting? Not to mention the problems of connection that inevitably stretched the morning stand-ups (daily 15 minutes team updates), but with good will and tenacity, every member learned to solve the difficulties as they presented.
“I want to thank my Team for the level of commitment” – Barbara tells me – “It was not easy, neither for them nor for me, and it is still not yet two months after the project has started. The hardest thing for us was getting used to the idea that we would have been in 3 + 1 from home. At some point I thought it would have never worked. But here I am!”
BARBARA’S HOME WORKING: CUDDLE FOR LEO, VALUE FOR THE COMPANY
The case in question shows us that the encounter between a visionary entrepreneur and a worker with an authentic passion for her job – who happens to become a mother in the meantime – does not automatically create a problem, but in fact can become an experience that generates value for both sides: human, professional, corporate, ethical.
Barbara concludes: “Thanks to Alessandro’s foresight – our CEO – I’m still doing the job I love, and I can devote myself to my son without wasting any moment with him.”
This confirms that if you really want one thing, a shared solution can be found, and at that point you can gradually overcome difficulties. Make yourself available in an authentic way, then mutual esteem and trust will do the rest.
DEAR ENTREPRENEURS, A HAPPY MOTHER IS MORE PRODUCTIVE
Have you ever thought that when a woman becomes a mother – whether she likes it or not – it actually starts for her a training on how to manage a small organization? A woman who grows a small child soon learns about strategies in terms of respect for deadlines, organization of daily activities, rhythms, contingency management, and much more.
If you have not yet understood this, dear entrepreneurs, it works more or less like this: give your working mothers the tranquility of being able to stay alongside their children and get in return all they have got in terms of performance, motivation and loyalty to the company.
Do you think that’s cheap?