Making holiday working better than holidays

Smartway  Jun 4 · 6 min read

Whether we want it or not, the workplace is set to change and the share of remote workers to increase compared to the pre-pandemic era.

According to McKinsey’s “What’s next for remote work” report, more than 20% of the workforce in advanced economies already has the potential to work remotely between 3 and 5 days a week, without any loss of productivity. Many of these people, especially in digital fields, will have the ability to work completely remotely.

But remote from where? All day behind a computer within the walls of your home is not such an attractive option, so that, according to a survey conducted by Airbnb in late 2020, 66% of respondents (all service workers) would plan to work from a location other than their own home.

Smartway.work was born exactly from this need: to work for a certain period of time from some wonderful places. “The idea came about a bit for fun, after talking with friends and acquaintances who were increasingly unhappy to stay indoors, but had no intention of giving up the advantages that working remotely brings.”- Gianluca, one of the founders, says — “So we asked ourselves how to combine this desire with the economic and social development of our towns.

The Smartway model is based on the creation of communities of remote workers and locals in selected Italian villages, leading to an economic impact in terms of direct and induced effects of 0,9–1,5M€ per village and a social impact, in terms of providing an alternative to depopulation and creating a virtuous circle of ideas and work, which is extremely positive. “We have estimated that on medium-long stays, for every 1000€ of bookings, there is an induced effect of about 1,150€ onm the local economy” — adds Gianluca. Restaurants and bars, sports stores, supermarkets and wine shops, but also laundries, babysitters and taxi drivers: all local businesses that benefit from the “new locals” effect. Without distorting the identity of the villages, as often happens when dealing with hit-and-run tourism.

Smartway started with a survey on about 500 professionals, mostly between 18 and 44 years old, in Italy and abroad, to better understand what are the needs of remote workers when not working from home.

The results speak for themselves: 68% of respondents have worked more than 80% of the time remotely and 31% say they will keep working remotely for continuous periods exceeding one week, even post-pandemic.

Among the preferred locations for a period of holiday working in Italy, the seaside ranks first with 65% of preferences, while the remaining 35% is divided between art villages and mountain resorts.

Only 17% of respondents said they would spend a week or less working remotely away from home, while 62% chose a period between two weeks and a month.

Social and networking events among remote workers and with the local community are seen as the first priority for medium to long stay periods, followed by the presence of outdoor sports facilities and a fine selection of restaurants and wine bars.

Features that should not be missing in a home from which to work remotely include a fast internet connection (3.9/4, where 1=not important and 4=very important), an ergonomic chair (3.1/4) and a large enough desk in a bright space (3.0/4). Printer and office supplies, on the other hand, are ranked at the bottom of the list (1.5/4 and 1.8/4, respectively).

“Based on the survey result and on the feedback of early adopters,” says Berardino, a co-founder “smartway.work is currently building remote workers’ communities in selected Italian towns, making sure that all accommodations and services are remote-friendly. Towns are chosen to be out of traditional touristic routes, unspoiled jewels where to truly enjoy and get inspired by the local community, while generating a virtuous circle of social impact”.

“We aim at becoming on of the pillars of the local communities” he continues “not only in terms of economic added value, but also due to the long-lasting social impact we are creating. Each community is empowered by a Town Angel, working as enabler of the community and trait d’union among remote workers, town social fabric and the local administrations and NGOs.”

Small towns are the backbone of Italy, and Smartway mission is to valorize them by enabling locals to unlock the tremendous potential of their territory in a sustainable way, supporting residents’ retention and increasing number of medium- and long-term quality inhabitants.

“In the coming months, Town Angels will be recruited among young people who decided, often after a period abroad or in a large city, to come back to their town bringing with them fresh ideas and enthusiasm” says Gianluca. “They will act as pivot to re-energize the young generations of locals through exposure to open minded international remote workers and high-profile jobs”.

From now on, an inspiring productive dolce vita experience for remote workers means an opportunity for rediscovering and empowering amazing local communities.