Remote working here to stay in Italy and around the world

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June 7, 2021
Fabiano Cavaletti

Remote working

As the first European country to be affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Italy was at the forefront of the world's reaction to the virus. The country's response to the unprecedented situation, where businesses moved primarily to a remote working model overnight, has been a catalyst for change in a culture which historically shied away from it.  

With the majority of employees working from home, enterprises quickly roll out technology that facilitated smart working. As a result, significant internal transformations happened in enterprises across all sectors.

Previously, smart working and digital transformation were not high on the agenda of Italian enterprises. Italy's dispersed manufacturing environment and a culture averse to change meant that many digital transformation projects were slow to get off the ground. However, the situation forced enterprises to be brave and implement new ways of working in a very short time frame. With the majority of employees working from home enterprises had to quickly roll out technology that facilitated smart working. As a result we're seeing significant internal transformations happening in enterprises across all sectors.

Bridging the digital divide

Like in many other countries around the world Italian enterprises successfully adopted tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and other collaboration software that allow people to communicate and collaborate remotely. This move to cloud-based services highlighted how important reliable connectivity is, and as we look to a future where remote working is the new normal, we're seeing just how important it is to have widespread, nationwide connectivity.  

There has long been a digital divide between urban and rural Italy, as well as the divide between the north and south of the country, and this gap was highlighted in 2020. However, the move to widespread remote working and increased use of technology has kick started change in the enterprise landscape in Italy and where you are based is becoming less important. We're now seeing enterprises all over the country in sectors such as retail reacting to the current situation and becoming even more innovative. 

A unique opportunity comes from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). The Plan is part of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) program, the €750 billion package agreed by the European Union in response to the pandemic crisis. The Italian Plan provides for investments of €191.5 billion, financed through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the key instrument of the NGEU. 

This is an epochal intervention, which intends to usher the country onto a path of digital, ecological, and environmental transition; overall, 30 percent of the plan is dedicated to digitisation. 

Securing data in a remote working environment

With the massive increase in remote employees data is now flowing from hundreds of thousands of home offices into the enterprise. This switch means that secure, reliable connectivity has never been more important. In Italy, we're also seeing that 5G playing an important role to bridge the gap in regions without high-speed fibre broadband. All of this means that mobile has become less of a commodity and mobile security has become a critical conversation in enterprise boardrooms.  

Data is the oil that flows through any organisation. Ensuring that data flow continues and is protected from outside risks will be essential to enterprises as they move into a more flexible, remote future.

My colleagues James Bracken and Nick Applegarth have previously spoken about securing data in this new remote environment and the importance of mobile device security. As data has moved from the office environment to the home, managing and protecting that data has become a key priority. Understanding data usage patterns will be key to securing that data and gaining insights into how it's being used and by whom. Data is the oil that flows through any organisation. Ensuring that data flow continues and is protected from outside risks will be essential to Italian enterprises as they move into a more flexible, remote future.