Work productivity and work-life balance, report of EAE Business School and EDC Paris

30% of Italians say that smart working helps personal and family reconciliation, but more than 40% say they cannot work remotely

  • The report indicates that 20% of Italians believe that smart working has increased their productivity;
  • Italy is the EU country with the most hours per week dedicated to personal care and free time (16.5), ahead of France (16.4) and Spain (15.9);
  • 74% of Italians highlight the imminent need to receive training on the potential of smart working and the digitalization of work;
  • Italians are the least satisfied with the quality of public services provided at a distance (25%) in Europe (54%);
  • Despite the benefits of smart working, 15% of women declare themselves against it, complaining more about the negative aspects related to remote work, unlike men (9%).

Rome, 28 September 2021. Rome Business School has published the report ‘Work productivity and work-life balance’, which offers a diagnosis of the level of productivity in Italy and personal and family reconciliation, through an international comparison with France and Spain. The study was carried out in collaboration with the EAE Business School (Spain) and the EDC Paris Business School (France). The three Business Schools are members of the Grupo Planeta Formación y Universidades.

The study states that 30% of Italians believe that smart working helps the reconciliation of work, personal and family plans, but more than 40% say they cannot work remotely despite the presence of administrative profiles or intermediate positions among the interviewees. private sector and public sector. However, not all Italians have evaluated smart working positively: 12.5% ​​say they have a worse quality of life and 17% are unable to reconcile family life with remote work. It is above all women who declare themselves against smart working compared to men: 15% of women, against 9% of men. These complain about the negative aspects of remote work related in particular to the management of family and home responsibilities.

Italy leads the European ranking in hours per week dedicated to personal care and leisure, with 16.5 hours, ahead of France (16.4) and Spain (15.9). However, almost 30% of the Italian respondents encountered serious difficulties in disconnecting and resting.

Smart working and the gender gap

The Italian economy was severely hit by the health crisis, with GDP falling by 7.8% in January 2021 compared to the same month in 2020. However, even if during the first half of the year Italy’s GDP was higher than in the same period last year, the economic situation has strongly affected employment, and in particular the employment situation of women.

In environments without spaces dedicated to work (20% of cases), or to be shared with other family members and young children (31% shared work spaces with children under 12), concentration problems were the main obstacle . Particularly true for women: smart working has seen working mothers take on most of the household chores, leading to consider that smart working favors men more. In confirmation of this thesis: to the question “smart working yes or no?” 15% of women say no (only 9% of the male counterpart expresses the same way).

This data further confirms the disadvantage in which Italian women find themselves: in the latest report of the WEF – World Economic Forum, it is highlighted how, despite Western Europe having reached a percentage of 70% of the closure of the gender gap in the economic index, “there are 24 percentage points between Iceland with 84.6%, the first in the global ranking, and Italy with 61.9%, the lowest level in the region”.

The challenge of public administrations

While before the covid-19 in Italy the employed who worked remotely were only 3%, the health emergency led 34% of the employed to work from home: about 7 million people, of which 2 million workers of the Public Administration . But the use of smart working must be seen on the basis of efficiency and productivity.

According to a survey carried out by the Confartigianato Research Office, Italy is at the bottom of the ranking of satisfaction with public services in the major EU countries (Germany, France and Spain) before and during the covid-19 pandemic. At EU level, in fact, Italians are the least satisfied with the quality of public services (25%), preceded only by Greece (24%). 54% of EU citizens interviewed during the pandemic (July-August 2020) said they were satisfied with national public services. This dissatisfaction could be reduced if workers received adequate and relevant training. In fact, 74% of Italians highlight the imminent need to be trained on the potential of smart working and the digitization of work.

Smart working in Spain and France

France is one of the most advanced countries in conciliation policies, which is reflected in its birth rate, which is above the OECD average. Spain, on the other hand, has one of the lowest birth rates in the last decade among European countries.

Contrary to Italy and Spain, French workers say they have not suffered a serious extension of working hours due to remote work. 65.9% say they continue to do the same amount of hours, compared to 9.5% who claim to do more. However, with regard to “relaxing”, the study notes that the French population was particularly concerned, as 30% “never switch off” or rarely do so.

In the case of Spain, more than 30% of workers say that working from home has led to an increase in their productivity, while almost 40% say that smart working has helped reconcile personal, family and work. However, similar to Italy, four out of ten Spaniards declare that they cannot work from home for their profession.

The economic impact of the pandemic: optimism reversed in 2024

The covid-19 pandemic reduced the number of hours worked worldwide by 8.8% in 2020, which equates to a loss of 255 million jobs globally.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), productivity will increase from 2024 and in Asia there will be four of the countries with the highest GDP in the world. China, whose economic growth has been increasing since the 1990s, is expected to overtake the United States and become the largest economy in the world. Forecasts make India and Indonesia the second and third world power, bringing Japan to fourth place. IMF projections also indicate that three European countries would be among the 10 world powers: Germany, in seventh place, followed by Russia, while the United Kingdom and France would close the ranking in ninth and tenth place.

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