Remote Working in Italian SMEs during COVID-19. Learning Challenges of a New Work Organization

Barbara Barabaschi, Laura Barbieri, Franca Cantoni*, Silvia Platoni, Roberta Virtuani

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review


Purpose Aim of the paper is to analyse how remote working has been carried out during the first wave of the pandemic in Italian SMEs representing at the same time an organizational challenge and an excellent opportunity for individual and organizational learning. Design/Methodology/Approach The research involved 60 Italian SMEs of various sectors and 330 employees: 217 clerks, (average age 42) and 113 managers (average age 48) belonging to different functional units and with different education background. Two different questionnaires, one addressed to clerks and one to managers/executives who coordinate the remote working activity, were prepared and sent. The research investigated the issues of perceived productivity, technological preparation, coordination, programming and control with a specific attention on how the participants faced the remote working experience from the learning point of view. Findings Before the pandemic, Italian SMEs didn’t feel the necessity to adopt a structured policy on remote working. The COVID-19 emergency has forced them to consider that working remotely is possible and can produce benefits and positive results for what they learned in terms of autonomy, motivation and trust, to the detriment of physical presence, which is not as fundamental to ensure productivity. Originality While large, formalized and structured companies encountered modest difficulties being already technologically and culturally prepared for remote working, the big challenge was that of SMEs, who found themselves obliged to adopt it. The paper examines how Italian SMEs lived and evaluated the switch to a new work organization and turned it into an occasion for workplace learning.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)497-512
Numero di pagine16
RivistaJournal of Workplace Learning
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2022


  • COVID 19
  • learning challenges
  • perceived productivity
  • remote working
  • workplace learning


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