As has been effectively said, the future (or present) of the world of work – a consequence of economic and organisational transformations due to the pandemic – is a hybrid of the real and virtual worlds, with neither space nor time.
The lockdown period was a formidable opportunity for companies to experiment with new forms of digital work. But in reality a mix of factors, of new organisational models, have profoundly innovated the way work is done.
The impact has been overwhelming for companies and employees alike. Suffice to say that remote working during the pandemic has presupposed a mode of organisation based on flexibility, autonomy in the choice of place and time and therefore greater employee empowerment, all factors unknown for traditional salaried employment.
Moreover, in highly digitised companies the collaboration of the employee has changed: a weakened hierarchy and increasingly linear communication between employer and employee has meant that workers are also directly affected by the final result of the work.
Therefore, today it is difficult to accept an argument based on the fact that it is sufficient, in order to be remunerated, to put only one’s working energies at the employer’s disposal, with no obligation to achieve a result. It would be more appropriate to remunerate performance on the basis of a task performed successfully in the interest of the company, understood as a community of work where employers and employees work together for a common goal: that is, in the interest of the company.
In Europe, there are plans to introduce assessment parameters that take into account the task performed, linked with performance indicators tailored to the individual. Hence again a renewed interest in the enhancement of professionalism, seeking to achieve the best possible balance between organisational productivity and professional content, also with a view to considering it, as mentioned, in a rewarding and supplementary perspective, always without prejudice to the best individual contract.
That said, there is no doubt that human labour must be protected even in the context of the internet revolution and artificial intelligence, where work is rendered without time and place. The EU considers that it is not permissible for the digital worker to be under an indiscriminate obligation to remain connected and therefore, on the basis of the general rules of good faith and fairness in the execution of the contract, the worker’s right not to answer or switch off their mobile phone is recognised, also with respect to the right to holidays and weekly rest, which are also considered by the court as rights of particular importance and some of which can be waived, such as the right to holidays, both by the Italian Constitution (art. 36 Const.) and by the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (Art. 31.2.).