Learning from the COVID-19 emergency. The remote working organizational experience in Italian SMEs

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The Covid-19 pandemic has put several SMEs in the position of having to deploy remote working. The analysis is focused on the adoption of remote working during the first wave of the pandemic in Italy and conducted on 60 SMEs of the Piacenza area (one of the most affected in Italy) with the aim to study the adoption of remote working in SMEs to verify how the organization of work has changed. It involved 391 employees and investigated the issues of perceived productivity, technological preparation, coordination, programming, and control. Results show that the way work has been organized remotely hasn’t changed substantially:  in the first wave of the epidemic, remote working has been considered as a mere replica of face-to-face work, without considerable variations other than the physical location of the workplace (from the office to home). Thanks to the availability of technologies and ability to use by workers - even without adequate training - productivity has not decreased and SMEs can trust their employees even without a direct control.