SOUTH WORKING STORIES

#southworkingstories

is dedicated to workers (South Workers) and their experiences.

 
 

Maria Calabria

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Maria Calabria is from Palermo, she moved to Milan three years ago and now works in operàri, a consultancy firm that deals with internal audit and risk analysis.

Since the end of February she has been working remotely, and since the beginning of June she has been in Sicily, between Palermo and Triscina.

Her CEO decided to offer a contribution to support the return home of the employees for this period, within a general desire to make the employee feel good and create a real community.

She was able to spend time with her family, spend time with loved ones, and felt she could lead a more peaceful life. As a downside to spending the day in front of the computer at home, she experienced a difficulty in interrupting work at the end of working hours.

In order to improve her South Working experience, she would like to have the possibility of choosing the workplace, as she used to do as a University student when she loved studying at the Regional Library. It would be optimal for her to be able to take advantage of coworking spaces in the area, with spaces that guarantee the privacy of customers but at the same time with shared spaces, perhaps even with people from different contexts and sectors to network with.

At a local and neighborhood level, it would have been very useful for her during these months of South Working to be able to go to a quiet place like a well-equipped coworking, as staying at home and isolation became difficult.

Obviously, and that would be even better, in a long-term perspective she would like  to move freely to other districts of her city with efficient public transport and to be able to have access to quality public services.

What she misses the most of Milan is the dynamism, the ambition, the job opportunities, the perception that there is always something to do and new activities around; while in Palermo she appreciates the relationships she nurtures outside of work, which give her the comfort that her job used to give her in Milan.

She told us: “For years our parents have told us to leave because there are no opportunities here and every time we leave we leave our hearts here to obey our mind and follow career opportunities. If I could no longer choose between heart and mind, and if job opportunities could be independent from the company headquarters location, it would be optimal. South Working should provide for corporate organizational choices to keep the corporate culture alive even at a distance and the possibility of meeting colleagues at regular intervals, especially for certain activities and certain customers. The real challenge will be to find a solution for the costs that the company should incur for the necessary employee travel. An idea could be a working twinning between various workers in the South in order to always have at least two employees per company in the same place and also, in the long term, to find clients in the areas of destination of the worker ".

Alice

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Alice (real name) is a Project Manager who deals with development cooperation projects, she toured many European cities before returning to Palermo in January 2020. After so many years living abroad, it was not easy for her to return to the her hometown, but the opportunity to work from home, taking care of her family, has allowed her to rediscover new aspects of living in her city.
She was initially offered a contract from a Northern Italian company and after a few months a contract from a Frankfurt-based company.
So far she has never met her employers in person, other than through corporate video calls, yet they blindly trust her. It does not need a boss who constantly checks it, because it is able to achieve results in a completely autonomous way.
Could you do the same type of work with an Italian company?
Alice is very doubtful about it, due to the experiences she has had, she claims that:
“Agile work is still far from being fully realized. In Italy there is still an 'old' system that is a bit too hierarchical. "
Alice told us what the pros of working from Palermo are for her. But are there also cons? She claims that:
"I certainly miss the international atmosphere, the organization and a life that is sometimes a bit simpler ... here you really have to fight for everything, but on the other hand there is the affection of the family and a definitely higher quality of life in cost of living / salary ratio. "
The Project Manager states that:
“South Working is certainly feasible, but on conditions: the structures, first of all. In Palermo there are few coworking. I tried to look for some and the ones I found did not meet my needs, or were too far from the area where I live, also considering that taking public transport in Palermo is an adventure! "

 

Claudia Di Bari

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Claudia di Bari is from Puglia, she has lived in Rome for 3 years and works in the commercial division of

Open Fiber.
The company was created to create an ultra-broadband (BUL) infrastructure entirely in FTTH (Fiber To The Home) optical fiber in all Italian regions, a telecommunications network available to all interested operators without discrimination: a single infrastructure cutting edge, many possibilities of choice in terms of services and rates for users. In particular, Open Fiber intervenes in over 250 cities by investing its own funds, while in thousands of centers with a strong digital divide it operates under concession.
Since 10 March Claudia has been working in smart working, now dividing herself between the capital and Manfredonia, the "pearl" of the Gargano where she was born. This way of working has been greatly facilitated by its company which has decided to provide all its employees with every useful tool (such as ergonomic chairs, monitors, laptop supports) to make agile work as comfortable as possible. Among other things, well before the coronavirus emergency, Open Fiber was committed to the dissemination of digital skills with a focus precisely on the culture of smart working.
Since returning to her Puglia, Claudia has been able to rediscover colors and scents that, after long months, she thought she had forgotten. She found the sea, the sun, the scent of bread and tomatoes, the warmth of the people, her people; those magnificent places that Puglia, her home, can offer. She was surrounded by the affection of her family, that affection that is constantly lacking when one is forced to live miles away. She appreciated what it means to be able to work from home, combining work, family and friendships.
However, there is also some negative aspect in this experience: the clear separation between work and private life to which one is generally used to, in fact, has disappeared because it is confused and difficult to identify. In Manfredonia, however, there is the possibility of being able to take advantage of coworking spaces, dedicated areas that allow you to share the work environment between people belonging to different organizations.
Technology ranks first among the enabling factors of remote work and acts as a pillar for the most modern professions: professional apps, online meeting rooms, shared clouds, folders and documents facilitate work, regardless of where you are. For this reason it is appropriate that the whole of Italy - in particular Southern Italy - strengthen the drive towards digitization, a process in which Claudia feels personally involved precisely because of her professional commitment within a company that promotes this template.
'' It would be optimal - says Claudia Di Bari - no longer having to choose between work and family. South Working represents the right solution to pursue and achieve one's professional goals while maintaining the corporate culture through periodic meetings with one's work team, without necessarily having to give up living in the places of the heart. In the end, every traveler is always headed home… ”.

 

Giuseppe Maria Blasi

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Giuseppe Maria Blasi, Calabrian IT engineer, in Milan since 2012, works for an international consulting company, dealing with cyber risk management. From the beginning of March, after a short period of smart working in Milan, he returned to Calabria, between Cosenza and Torremezzo di Falconara.
Giuseppe had already collaborated remotely in agile mode with virtual teams in the context of social innovation extra-work projects, as a contributor to Cocoon Projects, co-founder of Welcomaps and evangelist of the Silicon Valley Study Tour; but he had never had the opportunity to experience this mode of collaboration in the workplace, because favorable conditions have never been created in the context of client projects.
Although missing colleagues, this way of working did not negatively affect the project activities. This experience allowed him to rediscover the warmth of his family and the affection of childhood friends, rediscovering his roots, in the scents and colors of his land. Furthermore, by eliminating the downtime of home-work trips, he managed to obtain a better work-life balance, resuming his hobbies and participating in hackathon on the accessibility of disabled people to new technologies (Accessibility Days).
Giuseppe is convinced that a widespread adoption of the South Working modality, in addition to the undoubted benefits in terms of reducing the environmental impact, would allow companies in the North to make use of professionals from the South who, for personal reasons such as support in the tasks to elderly or sick family members, they would otherwise not be willing to relocate. On the other hand, by effectively enabling the remote working mode, thanks to broadband connection infrastructures, professionals trained in the South could work for companies in the North or even abroad.
He would like, to improve his South Working experience, to have access to coworking spaces (such as the Talent Garden) or to dedicated areas within the University of Calabria, where he can work both when staying at home is complicated due to lack of tranquility, and to guarantee the possibility of developing a professional network resulting from the comparison with professionals operating in other sectors.
As a long-term opportunity, it would be interesting to experiment with the repopulation of villages, transforming them into forges of innovation and contamination, in which digital knowmads can work in peace by getting closer to a more human-sized dimension, ensuring an adequate broadband connection it would be the only essential condition for the implementation of this type of project.
He feels the lack of the cultural ferment of Milan between concerts, museums and events; while in Cosenza he is rediscovering the pleasure of small things like taking a walk on the Corso in the company of a friend in a less frenetic everyday life.

 

Lydia

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Lydia is a computational chemist from Puglia, and has been working as a 'South Worker' for 7 years.

After living in Siena, Barcelona and Perugia, she decided to return to Puglia (Bitonto), for

get closer to loved ones, the sea and a more 'soft' lifestyle. Since 2014, after completing a PhD in Perugia, she has worked in smart working mode for an English company (Molecular

Discovery Ltd) and then for its 'Italian sister', Molecular Horizon ( https://www.molhorizon.it/ ) a start-up from Perugia. After an initial period of work on site, she had the opportunity to experience the smart working mode again, especially during the Covid emergency.

Living her homeland, while maintaining the work she loves and contacts with a more international reality, was the most exciting compromise that has ever happened to her.

The need to 'come back' was also the result of a regional call called 'Back to the Future', a sort of 'ethical contract' that allowed young graduates to take post-graduate courses outside Puglia, paid for by the region itself, hoping that these same young people would then bring back an opportunity for growth to the South. To date there have been small successes because two other Apulian girls collaborate with her own company as South Worker, effectively creating a small working group.

Initially Lydia found her work space in a large coworking in Bari (Impact Hub). Then, with the arrival of her daughter, she decided to get closer to home, choosing a small office shared with 5 freelancers.

His work consists in the development of software to simulate and solve chemical / biological problems for pharmaceutical or food companies, and many universities that do research in this field. In his company, half of the employees are located in other non-Umbrian cities (from Turin to Naples), and this thanks to the intuition of the scientific director who, almost 10 years ago, understood that a serene worker produces more. Every month, all employees meet in Perugia to discuss the results, receive customers, cook and dine together, go for walks and everything that is now called 'team building'.

This way of working for her has become indispensable: she manages contacts with collaborators and customers more or less during office hours but with the possibility of organizing herself better with meetings and todolist, and recovering an hour spent to go to kindergarten from her daughter or simply to take a walk by the sea and regain concentration. The flexibility of hours is truly priceless. She tells us that the biggest limitation is the lack of direct and daily confrontation with colleagues, and for this reason she makes extensive use of dedicated chats to always be in contact with the whole 'team'.

We ask her what she thinks is strictly necessary for a South Worker: “discipline and a great sense of responsibility. Having a well-defined schedule of things to do, trying to impose a daily routine and having a place to go is really important to live South Working well ”.

 

Giorgia

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Giorgia has been dealing with Digital Marketing for 3 and a half years. Originally from Taranto, she moved first to Rome to study, and then to Milan to follow the company where she works. Since March she has been in smart working, like many others, but in July she had the opportunity to go down to her beloved Puglia, and work from her villa a stone's throw from the sea.

The work in Marketing fits very well with the concept of smart - and south - working. It doesn't need a physical location from which to access data, information, or anything else: it's all online! The company she works for had long since adopted the practice of remote work, limiting it to the Tech team. From the period of quarantine due to Covid-19 onwards, however, it has given everyone the opportunity to work from home. At the moment Giorgia is with her family, she loves spending weekends by the sea (and sometimes she allows herself a dip even at the end of the working day!). What she prefers most, however, is flexibility: thanks to working remotely and saving time on means of transport, she managed to reconcile her profession with her long-abandoned interests, such as reading, and even find some new ones, like drawing and painting! The possibility of cultivating new and stimulating projects is also a point in favor of smart working. For her it is priceless to have found friends of a lifetime, and to be able to spend more time with her loved ones. She hopes, one day, to be able to work in South Working when she wants, or at least in the summer! Furthermore, she believes that this could be a unique opportunity for the relaunch of Southern Italy: with the right infrastructures and a support apparatus, excellent sharing and communication networks could be created! In short, if managed well, it could be an opportunity for growth both for Southern Italy and for its citizens. For Giorgia, a feature that a South Worker must absolutely not miss is organization: having in mind what their tasks and goals are to be achieved every day, respecting them without being carried away by the proximity to the sea!

 

Rossella

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Rossella is 28 years old and comes from Verona. Three years ago, fresh from a degree in Civil Engineering, she moved to Ireland. From the beginning she noticed big differences in the workplace and in people's mentality. More respect, kindness and collaboration between colleagues, but above all trust and empowerment of employees, factors that prompted her at the beginning of 2020 to ask to be able to work remotely from anywhere in the world. Although with some initial hesitation, her request is accepted, especially after considering that Rossella's presence in the office was not essential and that her productivity would not have been affected. Thus began her experience as a digital nomad in the Canary Islands, in one of the European capitals chosen by remote workers from all over the world. After a few months, however, she begins to feel homesick. Thus she decides to return. Its "south", in this case, is northern Italy, more precisely a village in the Veronese plain, characterized by tranquility and lots of greenery. Here, Rossella tells us, time seems to have stopped: life is cheap and there are essential services. What she misses most is the presence of a coworking and a physical community of people with whom to confront and recreate that cultural contamination typical of universities or large cities. According to Rossella, remote workers like her have the responsibility and moral duty to contribute to the development and well-being of the community in which they decide to live, and not only that, because our home is actually the whole world. That's why in recent months it has started supporting some nonprofits founded by digital nomads operating in developing countries. Moreover, in the future, she would also like to collaborate with the realities of the area she has chosen to live, work and build her future.

 

Antonio

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Antonio is a management engineer from Palermo, he moved north to complete his master's degree studies in Turin and has been working as a Data and Analytics consultant for a company based in Milan for a year. He returned to Sicily in March and has not moved since, continuing to work remotely.
Thanks to the tools and technological skills he possesses, despite having recently entered the world of work, he has adapted quickly, managing to complete the project activities without particular impediments. During the hardest months of the lockdown, being able to continue working helped him to set the pace of the days spent at home, which thus passed faster. The team of colleagues with whom Antonio works has worked hard to find moments of socializing and team building even remotely, such as short informal team meetings (strictly camera on) and without agenda in which everyone can meet to chat even about leisure topics in addition to work.
Antonio is satisfied with his South Worker experience so far, being able to spend more time with his family and closest friends. He is happy to find himself unexpectedly in his city doing the job he likes. He had always thought that the job he aspired to did not exist in Palermo, while now he is proud to represent the change in a work model that tends to relocate.
At the same time, she finds long days at the computer tiring and misses short moments of socializing with colleagues in the office. He loved the dynamism and international flair of Milan but at the moment he continues to enjoy the tranquility of Palermo and the opportunity to spend the weekends by the sea that he considers priceless.

 

Norirosa

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Norirosa is 28 years old and from Calabria. She has lived in Rome for 10 years, where she works for an important company in the telecommunications sector as a Business Controller. She loves what she does because, she tells us, it gives her the opportunity to work with numbers, but also with many people.
Since the beginning of the pandemic she has been working in smart working and after a period of "safety" spent in the capital she decided to go home to Calabria.
She had to create a new everyday life, certainly made up of many phone calls and videocalls, but also of a higher quality of life than before: less traffic and unnerving waits, more quiet breakfasts and time for herself. This allowed her to work more efficiently and was also able to benefit from the closeness of her family and friends of all time.
Despite this, however, she confesses that she missed her co-workers, happy coffee breaks and laughter at the end of the day. Her new office is the small studio where she lives and despite this she still tries not to lose her habits.
Norirosa is increasingly aware of how innovation and technology are today of extreme importance in order not to abandon their land, their place of the heart.

 

Gaetano

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Gaetano is a Sicilian architect, he has lived in Rome for 2 and a half years and works in the design division of Open Fiber.

The company was created to create an ultra-broadband infrastructure (BUL) entirely in FTTH (Fiber To The Home) optical fiber, a telecommunications network available to all interested operators, without discrimination, to have a single state-of-the-art infrastructure , many possibilities of choice in terms of services and rates for users. Open Fiber works to bring the connection in thousands of Italian municipalities, from large cities to the least populated villages of the country.

Since 10 March Gaetano has been working in Smart Working and since mid-May he has returned to Terrasini, in the province of Palermo, the beautiful coastal town where he grew up.

This way of working, in a period like the one we are going through, has been greatly facilitated by its company which has decided to provide all its employees with every useful tool (such as ergonomic chairs, monitors, support for laptops, but also masks and disinfectant gels) to make working activities carried out remotely as comfortable as possible. The possibility of returning to his beloved Sicily made Gaetano much more enthusiastic. Being able to spend time with your family and friends is not a trivial matter, but also enjoying the sea, sometimes, a few steps from home during lunch breaks or at the end of the day. Gaetano, did not encounter any problems in working away from his headquarters because his work is totally remotely manageable.

The possibility of being able to work in Smart Working - states Gaetano Basile - lays the foundations for a hybrid future between physical and digital presence. South Working represents a great initiative for the southern territories. Agile work could prove to be a valid tool to reduce the economic, social and territorial gap in the country and improve the quality of life of millions of people.

 

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