The smart working to come: we talk about it with SAP Concur

The smart working to come: we talk about it with SAP Concur
The situation is what we see. New DPCMs will freeze the current alert situation by extending it until the beginning of 2021, with all that this entails in terms of personal protection, limits to public places and the status quo of smart working. We are all thinking in emergency terms because this is what firm reality dictates, but thinking in the medium term allows companies to projects that can go beyond the next few months, sensing what, of all this, is destined to remain.

The issue is particularly delicate, especially in a confused moment like the current one: smart working was in fact a tool adopted quickly, without preparation and without vision, but above all without the time necessary to mature neither one nor the other . The summer was a pink interlude between a lockdown and a new fear, but few took advantage of the time necessary to plan a structured reaction in the face of new hypothetical emergencies. Now that new squeezes are revealed, now that new fears are facing the near future, the time has come to pull the strings and understand how, if and why we are ready or unprepared. Smart working, rather than being a solution, risks being a real exam. With pass and fail.

We discussed it with Gabriele Indrieri, Country Manager for Italy, Malta and Greece of SAP Concur. SAP Concur is in fact in a privileged position to be able to evaluate what is really happening in the company, what are the dynamics that guide this rapid transition and how we can guarantee business continuity as an absolute value and not just as a temporary piece of equipment.

Gabriele Indrieri: the smart working that will come

In your opinion, smart working will be an immediate and partial response to Covid or really the shock is such that agile work is here to stay and to enter the culture of companies?

Smart working, as a reaction to a state of emergency, will in effect become a stable part of the organization of work, even in our country. As SAP Concur, we think that it will not bea> enough to make the workstation remote, through videoconferencing solutions, it is necessary to rethink business processes in this key. Even more digital and flexible processes. Take a simple process like Audit of receipts for an expense report, like SAP Concur we are already helping many companies to be ready to move towards smart working: to make the transition effective in the current context I will have to eliminate paper, digitize the receipts, avoid unnecessary shipments and move the audit activity itself from manual work, in the presence of personnel, to an automated service using technologies such as AI and machine learning.

What differences can be seen between the "big players" in the market and SMEs? Is the small business ready to seize the opportunity of smart working?

The small business from our observatory is proving to be ready and reactive, the current situation is very difficult, but it can also become a lever to accelerate the digitization processes. We observe more and more attention towards integrated solutions, real digital platforms born from the joint adoption of ERP solutions such as SAP Business One and S / 4 Hana Cloud and SAP Concur to move towards digital not a single process, but the operating platform of company.

Large companies, on the other hand, have different challenges: revision of policies and processes in order to be able to adopt the technology in accordance with an organizational context of greater complexity. In this case we observe a strong push towards the strengthened figure of the mobility manager and the review of processes in terms of sustainability, being able to manage travel safely and reducing the CO2 footing will be the key to the new mobility for large groups.

Gabriele Indrieri, SAP Concur Country Manager

What are the peculiarities of the Italian market compared to the others in the relationship with smart working?

In Italy before the pandemic, smart working agreements were not very widespread if we compare ourselves to the countries of the Anglo-Saxon bloc. Today the situation seems destined to change. It remains for us to take up the challenge for digitization that can help move from a contingent situation to a new model of work organization.

Let's take an example: our recent survey as SAP Concur "Home Office" investigates telecommuting expenses among 6,812 employees in 8 European markets and reveals that only 15% of Italian employees have been informed on how to manage expenses during the lockdown, better than France, but still not at the level of countries North or Germany.

Do you think there are particular regulatory obstacles to the definitive adoption of smart working in companies? Or in any case: is the biggest obstacle the corporate culture or any regulatory obstacles?

With current conditions it is reasonable to think that legislative sensitivity will go in the direction of facilitating the adoption of smart working processes, therefore the cultural element and the redefinition of processes remain key. From these two points of view, the Italian scenario is still thought of today for work on site as a de facto condition, this element, even before digital tools, constitutes the challenge to be overcome.

Always quoting our studio " Home Office "we still see GAPs: in Italy 76% of the interviewees are still not sure if and what expenses they are authorized to incur while working from home and 31% say they cannot bear any costs.

È It is clear that in these cases the word “smartworking” is being adopted, but in reality the company has not yet correctly redefined processes, tools and policies.

Is smart working a cost or an economic advantage? On average how much does a company have to spend to move an employee to smart working and on average how much is he able to save? What cost items are involved in this calculation?

There are many studies that document productivity increases, on average a range between 15% and 20% is indicated. If done correctly, a significant reduction in the management costs of physical spaces should also be considered, with market estimates reaching 30%.

Another really important element is the reduction of the Carbon footprint thanks to lower CO2 emissions to which we are all contributing.

Finally, even the work life balance can become a point in favor, but it is necessary to move from an experimental phase to a regime of strategic adoption that supports compliance with timetables, breaks and considerations also the costs that many employees are supporting independently without clear company indications.

How will the concept of “office” change? And do you think this change will be sudden (which would attribute much of the responsibility for this rapid change to the Covid context) or will it be progressive, long-lasting, the result of a trend rather than a sudden market shock?

The change has already happened: now we need a reaction from the government on the regulatory level and from companies on the level of technological innovation.

For example, as SAP Concur we are observing strong growth in pre-travel approval processes, not only to regulate traditional "business meetings", but also to govern, in compliance with the regulations and duty of care, the flows to the headquarters from smart working stations spread throughout Italy.

Your office is "everywhere" should be the thought on which to design processes and policies in the near future.

What advice do you think you can offer to companies that are trying to imagine their future in time of smart working? What are the mistakes to avoid and which bets not to reject?

There are many aspects to consider: as SAP Concur we can suggest you seize the moment and leverage digital to safely define home - smart working mobility.

Expense management policies and business trips have been designed in the past with the idea of ​​working in-house at the center, so they should be reviewed by providing tools to the worker and the mobility manager to manage this phase easily. Considering the needs of individual employees is the key point, making everything simple and usable with a smartphone.

There are many business processes and the challenge for the digitalization of our country is increasingly broad and ambitious, such as SAP Concur today we support over 50,000 companies around the world, of which 1200 in Italy, managing expenses and travel for 60 million users.

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