The impact of “forced” and “massive” smart-working on the innovative work behavior and creativity of employees. Empirical evidence during the COVID-19 emergency

1. Management challenges in the post Covid-19 era

The impact of “forced” and “massive” smart-working on the innovative work behavior and creativity of employees. Empirical evidence during the COVID-19 emergency

Grazia Carlatti Costa, Guido Bortoluzzi

“Work-life balance” (WLB) is a growing need in the workplace. At the same time, WLB represents a challenge for companies that must adapt their organizations and strategies to this need. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this balance has been distorted. At the same time the health emergency has been accompanied by legislative provisions that forced companies to make a massive and forced use of tools related to smart-working in order to reconcile the need for continuity of economic activity with the need for isolation necessary to contain the spread of the contagion during the lockdown.

The topic of smart-working, its implementation and its effects, is not new in the management field. It is an interdisciplinary theme, which crosses organizational, managerial as well as sociology and work psychology studies (e.g. Daniels et al., 2001; Golden et al., 2008). From a managerial point of view, smart-working is not easy to implement due to the organizational and technological interdependencies that characterize workflows, tasks and to the necessary adaptation of organizational structures, business processes and the business model, technologies and workspaces (physical and virtual) (e.g. Chiaro et al., 2015; Torre and Santi, 2020; Torre, 2020).

In the last decades organizations are characterized by an increasing need to adopt flexible work arrangements to foster their employees’ work-life balance (e.g. James, 2011, 2014). Amongst these flexible policies, smart-working has assumed particular relevance during the Covid-19 outbreak. Scholars and practitioners’ interest in smart-working has exploded, due to the need to manage work during this contextual emergence. The growing scholarly attention paid to smart-working has been motivated by an organizational and societal interest in the topic and its effects on individual, organizations, and society as a whole (e.g. Gastaldi, et al., 2014; Naotunna and Zhou, 2018; Vega et al., 2015). However, to date, it is not clear in the literature how a “massive” smart-working situation can impact people’s creative and innovative attitudes and behaviors and, consequently, on companies’ innovative processes and results.

This paper revolves around the need to fill this gap to clarify the relationship between smart-working and creativity and innovation in the workplace. The aim of the research twofold: firstly, it attempts to understand how a situation of massive and forced smart-working impacts on the attitudes and behaviors of the people who are subjected to it; secondly, it purports to investigate the effects and repercussions of these attitudes and behaviors on the creative and innovative behavior of individuals.

Indeed, we are interested in understanding how in a period of forced and massive smart-working (MSWp), the general IWB has impacted the individual creativity manifested during the Covid-19 outbreak. Then, we aim to investigate how this relationship between X and Y, where X is objectively evaluated and Y is subjectively evaluated, is moderated by two variables closely connected to remote working as the teleworking literature has dated (e.g. Gajendran and Harrison(2007); Mann and Holdsworth,(2003); Mann et al., (2000)), which are the home-work conflict (e.g. Ayyagari et al., (2011) and social isolation (e.g. Golden et al., (2008), evaluated during the Covid-19 emergency.

#Covid-19 #creativity #innovative behavior #smart-working #teleworking #work-life balance