Teleworking As a Measure of Work-Life Balance and a Factor of Quality at the University of Padua

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW1.2.03 (Tower One)
Marina De Rossi, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
Emilia Restiglian, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
Teleworking (TL) is one of the measures recommended by the EU in the work-life balance strategies for the implementation of equal opportunities (UE Project Prages FP7/2007-2013, Guidelines for Gender Equality Programmes in Science). The introduction of the TL inside a complex organization, like that of a great university, must abide by certain rules and based on a specific project which must take into account some critical situations emerging in the contexts of practice. This is why the University of Padua decided to monitor the start of the test on the alternating TL on a sample of 20 voluntary workers (technical/administrative staff of the University) returning from the compulsory maternity leave for a period of twelve months. That’s the result of work-life balance measures provided in the Plan of Positive Action of Equal Opportunities Committee. The test has taken the form of a case study (qualitative and quantitative tools administered to managers, head of department and office staff) with the purpose of verifying whether the alternating TL, together with the preparation of specific training paths, can restrict the phenomena of alienation and poor visibility that usually accompany people who work for long periods outside the organization. In fact that kind of situation could often prevent the learning processes which normally take place in the contexts of direct interaction between people (French, Bell, 1998; Wenger, 2001; Trentin, 2001; Nacamulli, 2003).

The procedure can be essentially described as follows:

-       workers were trained to use the equipment (graphic terminal) and to have a distance work culture by a blended course. A platform for the inclusion of material and continuous monitoring was implemented;

-       each worker drew up a draft about the activities she could have carried out in teleworking. Times have been adjusted and negotiated with the manager in order to meet her needs and taking into account the needs of the service in which she worked. In addition, all her colleagues (men and women) were informed and involved about the project;

-       some sheets of self-evaluation and evaluation of the activities were provided. They had to be completed every week or every month, depending on the type of work performed. The evaluation was structured using objectives.

The implementation of an alternating TL (60% TL hours) has pointed out positive aspects and controlled risks: the 20 voluntary workers were satisfied and the TL impact on the working organization has permitted significant rearrangement in order to improve the whole organization.

We’ll present the methodologies and the results of the test 2012-13 which allowed the systematic beginning of TL as a structural element of the University of Padua in AY 2014-15 mainly through:

-       the implementation of a clear and complete procedure;

-       the implementation of some activities of technological orientation and blended learning;

-       the arrangement of a permanent technological support;

-       the continuous widespread of knowledge and awareness about TL for all academic staff.