IRsmart - Improving expertise in the field of industrial relations Industrial Relations for Smart-Workers in Smart Cities

irsmart.jpgEurope has just witnessed an extraordinary increase in the diffusion of teleworking (see on this the European Framework Agreement on Telework ) and/or ICT-based mobile work (from now on indicated as smart-working, over extending the definition and meaning of the latter to encompass different form of outside-the-office way of working -  e.g. teleworking, remote work, agile working – which will be reviewed and analysed in the project) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Such an acceleration took place in very different context and led to very differentiated impacts. Those countries in which smart-working was the exception rather than the rule before the pandemic, experienced a massive increase in the adoption of such working practice. This ‘disruptive’ event raises crucial issues from the perspective of industrial relations. The IRsmart project investigates three main issues that are very much diverse across European countries and play a central role for the adoption of smart-working practices in the respect of workers’ rights: (i) the regulatory framework, (ii) the working conditions and (iii) the organization of places, i.e. regions and cities. These three pillars need to be studied and deepened at regional/local levels, with a common thread given by industrial relations and tripartite social dialogue. The regulatory dimension of smart-working allows to build the general framework assessing industrial relations and smart-working through the regulatory lens. The internal labour market dimension regards the implications of smart-working for working conditions, labour organisation, training and skills endowment. The third pillar, the spatial dimension, concerns issues such as mobility planning, environmental benefits/costs and technological infrastructures in order to give to social parties an array of best practices and policy recommendations to make effective and socially beneficial the integration between smart-working and smart cities.

This project aims to improve the expertise and knowledge of industrial relations, with an extension focused on the tripartite social dialogue (social partners and public authorities), through a comprehensive research, grounded on quantitative and qualitative data analysis, on the relations between smart-working and smart cities across a set of heterogeneous countries, with local focuses on regions and cities. As the differences across Europe between industrial relations systems, smart-working diffusion and urban areas’ layout and dynamics are significant, the study focuses on European cases that enable to carry out an informative comparative analysis: France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain. The selection of the five countries allows to consider various models of smart-working patterns and also various industrial relations systems within the EU.

The IRsmart project will analyse (i) the current regulatory framework concerning smart-working in a comparative perspective, highlighting the relevant implications for the social dialogue, (ii) the skills and competences as well as the occupations for which smart working is easier to be implemented, (iii) the organisational needs and the working conditions related to smart working in order to inform the social parties and provide a framework of criticalities to be addressed and answers to such criticalities, and (iv) the relations among public authorities and social parties to promote the diffusion of best practices related to the management of smart workers in smart cities.


Project details

Project coordinator: Davide Antonioli

Funding source: DG Employment

Call: VP/2020/004 

Start date 1/10/2021 - end date 30/09/2023

EU contribution: 257.331,60 €

EU contribution to UniFe: 79.030,83 €


  • Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy (Coordinator)
  • Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain
  • Universitatea Alexandru Įoan Cuza Din Iasi, Romania
  • Fundacja Instytut Spraw Publicznych, Poland
  • Astrees Association Travail Emploi Europe Societe, France
  • Istituto di Ricerche Economiche e Sociali della Emilia Romagna Associazione, Italy