Editor's note: Luca Ciferri, editor and associate publisher of Automotive News Europe, is living under quarantine at his Italian home in Villastellone, just south of Turin. He will be filing daily updates in this blog post.
Starting Monday morning, most white-collar workers in France and Spain will be doing their jobs from home, joining workers in Italy, where a measure was introduced on March 12 and will be effective at least until March 25.
Companies such as Ford announced last week that starting Monday, “We are instructing much of our global workforce – except those in business-critical roles that cannot be done away from Ford facilities – to work remotely until further notice,” something that applies to the entire Ford of Europe organization.
Working from home, also known as “smart working,” is nothing new at Automotive News Europe.
Since the fall of 2009, we have been smart working. Here are my five positive takeaways.
- None of our readers have ever noticed that we no longer have a physical newsroom, therefore working from home does not negatively affect the quality of your work.
- Audio conferencing becomes the norm. It is easy, convenient and free (we use Skype and Skype for Business). We do not use video conferencing, just audio, so your attire does not matter as no one sees you.
- All data should be on a cloud, that way everyone has access at anytime from anywhere. We use Dropbox to share all our working data.
- We use Google Sheets to chart the progress of our monthly magazine during its production cycle. Google Sheets are also used for work schedules and to help coordinate large projects. These cloud-based services permit everyone to always be on the same page on everything regardless of whether they are.
- Instant messaging helps, but it can get messy fast when there are too many different lines of communication being used.
Here are my five negative takeaways.
- Despite multiple efforts to streamline things, we have been suffering from email overload for 11 years.
- Instant messaging, in theory, should be the cure for email overload but that has not been our experience. That is because too often the same information is sent via both methods. We are working to designate what to send on which channel.
- Body language provides a lot of help gauging a person's answer to a question. You lose that if you only hear the person's voice on an audio conference. Video conferencing helps but is not a perfect solution.
- It's difficult to have private conversations when working remotely because in so may cases everything that is said is shared with everyone.
- There is less time to think. This phenomenon takes a while to grasp but it is probably the biggest change. Whether your commute was a 10-minute walk or a one-hour drive, that was your time to ponder all kinds of subjects: life, business, love, sports, dreams. These twice-a-day opportunities are quickly missed.