Does a shorter working week equal being more productive and happier? 

Many talk about it, some countries have tested it, some governments have encouraged it and more and more companies are starting to experiment with it around the world.

We are talking about the 'short' work week, reduced to 4 working days, from Monday to Thursday, with a long weekend of 3 days - and of course, without a reduction in pay.

In the post-pandemic era, several economists and sociologists highlight how important it is for companies to consider not just offering interesting salaries and benefits but, and above all guaranteeing  a work-life balance that allows a clear improvement in quality of life.

Among the voices that support the validity of the 4-day work week, is that of Juliet Schor, Economist and Sociologist at Boston College, committed to studying the experiments in progress of the short week around the world. Her research focuses on the intersection of work, society, consumption and climate change. From tests conducted in Great Britain, the United States, Ireland and New Zealand, in the public and private sectors, the results are very clear and all in favour of the short week: workers are less stressed, have a better social life, appreciate more their work and, while it might seem absurd, they are absolutely more productive. In fact, while spending less time at work, people are not working less, because in exchange for a free day to devote to family, hobbies or personal needs, they make better use of their working time by increasing their productivity, without penalizing the quality of results.

Companies that embrace the short week must be convinced that spending less time at work helps workers to find the physical and mental energy needed to be more lucid and focused.. In addition, they can support their employees with a reorganization of work, for example by eliminating or limiting, as much as possible, the less productive and non-essential activities.

Juliet Schor's research then highlights the impact that the reduction of the working week has on the climate crisis. With the four-day week, commuting is obviously reduced, creating a dynamic of long-term decarbonisation. Because when people are stressed by time, they aim to choose faster and more polluting modes of travel and daily activities, while when they have more time they tend to have a lower carbon footprint.

But the biggest reason has to do with the size of the economy. By choosing to work less, countries are choosing not to expand production to the maximum, thus avoiding additional emissions. As evidenced by the carbon-related success stories of Germany and Denmark which have low annual hours. France and the Netherlands also have low carbon emissions and working times.

And in Italy? Taking into account that our country is the second in Europe for the amount of hours worked per week (on average 7 more than those of Germany), the pandemic has led to greater work flexibility - an important development of smart-working and also to the phenomenon of the great resignations.

So in Italy some companies have also started experimenting with the short week. The first were medium-sized companies operating mostly in the digital, marketing and communication sector, but it is news these days that the largest Italian banking group, Intesa San Paolo, is proposing to its employees they reduce the week to four working days, spreading the 36 hours over 4 days, with unchanged salaries.

Negotiations with the trade unions are underway, but it is certain that the work of the 21st century goes in this direction and, as Juliet Schor also points out in her TED speech, it is necessary that governments understand the importance of reducing the working week and take charge of encouraging it, as happens in Spain and Belgium, to go beyond the enlightened companies that already see the virtues of this new work organization.

From the 7th -12th  June, the 60th edition of the Salone del Mobile was again on stage in Milan.

After a subdued September 2021, due to the many lockdowns, this edition was the first encouraging sign of recovery. It presented itself as big and busy:

"The 60th Salone Del Mobile has confirmed that it is a winning formula that cannot be ignored,” said the President of the association Federlegno Arredo Claudio Feltrin, speaking on behalf of a supply chain that brings together 70,000 companies, with 294,000 employees with a turnover of almost 50 billion euros.

On the front of the social media, 13.5 million accounts were reached, with more than 50,000 contents being generated by the community using the official hashtags (#salonedelmobile2022 and #salonedelmobile60th), 600,000 video views, 120,000 interactions with content and 25 million impressions. In the last week alone, the site has recorded 4.8 million page views with an average of 100,000 daily users (69.2% from Italy, 30.8% from abroad), and a 42% increase in new users registered on the platform.

The great interest of the Social Media for the Salone del Mobile comes also from the acknowledgement of the huge efforts of modernization which have been made in these 2 years,  not only on the suppliers’ side , but also by the international buyers, and the organizers of the Salone.

This year, the focus on sustainability has made the Salone an international stage for business ideas and technological solutions capable of contributing to the protection of the environment - also in the Furniture Sector. Digitalization has also arrived in the Furniture market, one of the most conservative ones in Italy.

Guglielmo and our team are in contact with the Federlegno Association, planning a further collaboration on a bigger scale. We will keep you updated!

No digital technology can replace managers in driving change or introducing simplification.

The digitization of unnecessarily complicated processes / misunderstanding automation with transformation, introduces the risk of radicalising obsolete practices, making them even more complex and reducing the possibility of changing them.

People skills, process simplification and then the adoption of digital technology  are the essential ingredients. Digital Transformation (DX or DT) is increasingly the undisputed protagonist of technical and managerial literature.

This attention given to the opportunities offered by DT, a belief in the thaumaturgical power of digital technology in solving problems and achieving corporate objectives emerges. Before evaluating enabling technologies to be adopted, it is advisable to ask yourself if your organization is ready to face it, decide where and at what depth to apply it and fix its expected value.

It is therefore necessary to analyse whether the operational models adopted by the Company are adequate to the context, to the opportunities offered by the market -  to the needs of the Customers.

Coping with complexity by fighting complication

Complexity is an external  factor, specific to some industrial sectors, markets or regulatory contexts in which the Company operates. Conducting a business in a complex sector requires strong skills, a focus of internal structures on common objectives, operational dynamism and streamlined decision-making.

Complication is an internal factor, independent of the context in which the Company operates. It is often useless and therefore can be harmful. It derives from successive sedimentations accumulated over time in terms of processes, behaviours, structures, roles and procedures that are no longer necessary and appropriate to the context. Sometimes it is even generated by some functions within the organization itself, to affirm their existence.

Companies that operate in complex sectors and who react by introducing excessive complication internally are destined to fail, or in any case face economic losses. The internal complication is in fact among the main causes of:

Unnecessarily complicated organizations tend to become "self-referencing"; failing to deal with the outside world, recognizing themselves as different from all the others.

They focus their energies mainly on themselves, failing to transfer the desired value to customers.

The growing complexity that companies and organizations face is well known. Not so well known is the increased level of complication introduced in business management.

A study of Boston Consulting Group calculates and compares the growth of the complexity of the business with the growth of the business complication in the 6 decades 1955-2010. The order of magnitude that separates them is surprising:

Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated - April 1, 2014 - Yves Morieux, Peter Tollman

Role of Digital: a double-edged sword?

Surprisingly, for those involved in digital technologies, this incredible trend of business complication has been detected in the decades in which technologies have been made more and more available and therefore adopted by companies. One could wonder: does digital help companies simplify processes, reduce complexity, mitigate complication?

Digital technologies have been sometimes used to merely replicate the way organizations operate, generating only the value of the speed of execution of repetitive processes that may not even be necessary anymore.

Digital Leadership. The skills needed by Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation cannot be delegated to brilliant “techies”. Managing change and directing the organization towards transformation requires strong and new managerial skills. Digital vision, knowledge of phenomena and creativity are needed, but also "organizational strength" in change and execution. As evidenced by the survey published in the MIT Sloan Management Review of April 2019.

"How Digital Leadership Is (n’t) Different" Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan Copulsky, and Garth Andrus


Take away

Digitize does not mean Improve.

Digitalize does not mean Transform.

It is necessary to become aware of the useless complication, to address its simplification and therefore to digitize its transformation.

A strong and visionary leadership is key for success.

Donatella Paschina
Associate Partner, Milan

Will 2022 end the pandemic?

The hope is that 2022 will end the nightmare of Covid and enable us all to re-start our social relationships that have been paused over the past two years.

We have all learned so much and we strive to move forward with a positive attitude.

There is no doubt that a lack of face to face contact has had an impact on our attitudes to work.

Major European leaders, with caution, are united that 2022 will prove to be the year of the end of pandemic for 4 reasons:

No one wants to halt the global economy again, so companies like Friisberg are working hard with business leaders around the world to re-configure their structure, create digital platforms, manage their HR structures and solve problems quickly and effectively - especially at the moment those linked to the re-opening of local economies and work places.

Since September 2021 we feel very positive that the global marketplace has 'woken up'.

We will continue to contribute, helping to build strong bridges within teams, building on new expectations and business needs around the world.

A genuinely new beginning is waiting for us all in 2022.

Aureliana De Sanctis
Associate Partner, Milan

We spoke with our team in Milan about Christmas traditions in Italy.

There are Christmas traditions in Italy that are widespread practically everywhere in the country, such as the Christmas tree and the nativity scene. To be fair, however, the Christmas tree is much more common in the north of Italy, while the nativity scene in more common in the centre and south.

In some areas of northern Italy, it is not Santa Claus who brings the gifts, but Saint Lucia. This tradition persists, for example, in the provinces of Cremona but also Brescia, Bergamo and Verona. In particular, the tradition of Santa Lucia is very much felt in Lombardy and Veneto: in Verona it is said that during the holidays of 1200 in the city an epidemic spread that affected the sight of children and that, to avert it, the mothers decided to make their little ones go on a pilgrimage asking for the grace of Saint Lucia, protector of the blind. To persuade the children, they promised that the Saint would have them find gifts on their return. From that moment, on the night between 12 and 13 December, Veronese children, like the Lombards, are waiting for Saint Lucia to carry the gifts on the back of her donkey.

A typical custom of Trentino Alto Adige  is that of the Advent Wreath. Each family makes a wreath with fir branches and intertwined red silk ribbons, inserting 4 candles on this wreath. Every Sunday before Christmas day, families gather to light one, waiting together for December 25th.

In the centre of Italy there is another widespread custom, that of bagpipers - that is, musicians who roam the streets of the villages playing typically Christmas songs with their bagpipes. Sometimes they even knock on doors, cheering with their music in exchange for an offering.

When it comes to Christmas traditions regarding food, while in some regions there is a tendency to celebrate in style during the Christmas lunch, in others the most noteworthy event is that of the Christmas Eve dinner on December 24th. Just think, for example, of the Christmas traditions in Sicily: in some mountain villages, on the night of the 24th, bonfires are lit to warm the Child Jesus. Furthermore, many families, after the usual dinner, tell tales and legends to each other, to entertain the children waiting for Santa Claus.

Of course, these are just some of the Christmas traditions scattered around Italy. While not covering all regions, however, they represent an excellent starting point for a symbolic journey which, we hope, can help to put our international Friisberg family into a merry Christmas mood.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

The 115th Global Friisberg Conference took place in Milan last week.

The Friisberg Conference usually takes place biannually allowing many of our Partners to gather under one roof. It is a two-day event of learning, featured sessions, celebration events and networking.

Last week we had a fantastic number of attendees with a truly international presence. It was 18 months since our last physical conference - and how the world has changed in this time.

Friisberg is expanding internationally, and under the leadership of our inspiring new Chair, Zoltan Petho, there was a big focus on our international activity. He introduced his vision entitled ‘Friisberg 2025’ which included ‘International Moving Forward’, Case Study Presentations and an internationally focused Digital Marketing discussion. He actively listened to all ideas, needs, and suggestions integrating feedback into the then agreed strategy.

Zoltan Petho said,

“The conference provided a long overdue opportunity to meet each other once again. We asked some tough questions and highlighted the way forward through concrete actions and measured results. Our conference reinforced how we are all connected by this passionate commitment to support our clients and grow our firm.  It is always inspiring to be in a room filled with people so unbelievably committed to their work. “

The big takeaway from our conference was that increased specialisation and a growing complexity in client issues has created a demand for consultants who are not only technical experts in their own particular field, but also consultants who can collaborate with others throughout the firm, and often around the world, to solve multifaceted problems.

Friisberg works in a uniquely collaborative way and throughout all levels of our clients’ organisations. We are bound together by the shared goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make their businesses better.

Friisberg’s true multidisciplinary collaboration means that our people can genuinely combine their perspectives and expertise and tailor them to our clients’ needs such that the outcome is more than the sum of the participating individuals’ knowledge.

Of course, the Friisberg Conference was not just all work and no play...

One of the key benefits of attending the Conference was to catch up with colleagues and make new connections with the local teams. During the two-day event, Friisberg Italy hosted a fantastic Gala Dinner with Campari cocktails in the centre of Milan and an evening event at the Gucci rooftop bar. These allowed all attendees to unwind, cement established relationships and to make new friends.



After two years of virtual meetings, the Friisberg team are meeting in Milan!

Guglielmo Sallustio, from our office in Milan, is hosting our 115th Partner Conference this week. Accepting that for many travel is still not entirely safe, nor easy, we are running a Hybrid Conference with in-person and virtual delegates taking part.

We are all genuinely looking forward to seeing each other once again, to welcoming our new Partners and Consultants – we have had numerous arrivals to Friisberg in the recent months - and to discussing our 2025 growth strategy.

Ours is a Management Consulting firm that specialises in Executive Search, particularly for businesses operating in multinational markets.

Our six-monthly Conferences ensure that our Partners are always learning from each other to constantly improve the service, and the results, we deliver to our clients.

September is a fresh start for Milan.

After two years of absence in light of the pandemic, September 2021 represents a new beginning for the city:

Milan is going through a slow and gradual reopening - it is seeking a new way of restarting.

Milan Design Week was one of the most anticipated design events to take place in Italy, and it has finally opened its doors to visitors. From the 5th- 10th of September, more than 350,000 architects, designers, artists, and craftspeople from all around the world had the chance to explore new design innovations and exchange ideas about interior design, furniture, and lighting. During the week-long event, Salone del Mobile, the renowned furniture and interior design event of the year, hosted local and international exhibitors at the Fiera Milano, Rho, along with interventions by world-renowned architects across the city.

New this year was the Supersalone, the special event of the Salone del Mobile, curated by the architect Stefano Boeri, that marks the restart in our
post-pandemic city. There were 425 brands in the four pavilions and 1,900 projects on display with spaces dedicated to companies and small consumers. The emphasis was on the smart component and the rediscovery of the home as an environment in which to live. There were 30,000 tickets only on the first day (the expectations were 50,000 for all six days), of which half were foreign visitors. And as we walk through the pavilions, the amount of visitors is undeniable.

"Milan is moving and, with Milan, Italy is moving again," said the Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala. "It is an event that brings to the world the positive image of our city and the country. I welcome and endorse the invitation of President Mattarela, who I thank for his presence, to assume our responsibilities. Milan takes responsibility and wants to lead the restart.".

Guglielmo Sallustio
Partner, Milan

Guglielmo Sallustio, who leads our office in Milan, announced today that Apis has now officially rebranded as Friisberg & Partners International, Italy in recognition of its growing traction in both its Italian and International markets.

Guglielmo said, “We are excited to enter our next phase as Friisberg, Italy. We will, of course, continue to offer the same client-centric approach and meet the growing needs of our clients as we deliver strategic talent solutions at senior and executive level across a wide variety of sectors and geographies. After successfully building our service offering and reputation, we’re proud to align fully with Friisberg, which embodies our modern vision and direction. We’re excited to see what the future holds for us as we build on our established position as thought leaders on leadership in Italy. The benefits to our clients and candidates are immense. Our expanded team of consultants offer greater industry experiences, additional sector specialists and an even more extensive network across Europe, and beyond.”

Friisberg & Partners International operates in highly competitive and fast-moving global markets. Our core values are discretion, commitment and integrity and it’s crucial to our clients that these values are inherent and evident in every aspect of our business; having a strong brand that conveys these values is an important part of ensuring this. As a unified firm, we provide an unparalleled end to end talent solution, without borders, for our clients.

Zoltan Petho, Chair of Friisberg & Partners International, welcomed the rebrand, “Friisberg remains focused on its strategy to expand and innovate to connect clients to talent, internationally. We have made it our purpose to grow with our clients, as individuals and as a team, and this news from Italy confirms our growing significance in European Executive Search.”

The expansion of Friisberg & Partners International is going from strength to strength. It is a philosophy of ‘collective intelligence’ that truly sets us apart as a consultancy-led search firm and enables us to provide unparalleled service to our clients. That we work for a client, together, across multiple Friisberg offices, is one of the many reasons why our clients choose us.

The advantages

For some time now, environmental sustainability has been one of the most important issues globally involving governments, businesses and consumers.

Consumers have never been so aware of the environment as they are today, and in turn this affects the organisational and business processes of companies. Consequently the importance of communicating sustainability is growing dramatically - and on a global scale.

This is why Green Marketing is a new approach for business that aims to develop, promote and enhance products and services which generate a reduced environmental impact compared to the alternatives offered in the market.

The search for environmental sustainability leads to the creation of new products and new lifestyles, making better alternatives accessible, not only for the planet but also for humanity.

What does this mean?

To reduce the environmental impact of the work process, one must invest in sustainable projects, embrace as a team a philosophy aligned to this and commit to communicate it.

Does my business have an environmental impact?

To make sustainability a core value of your brand you must start with critical self analysis.

Post-analysis, and with attainable goals identified, it is essential to involve all employees. Consistency is the first ingredient of green marketing. Therefore all individual participants must be trained and must participate in all activities with awareness. Very often, in order to achieve goals, it is necessary for the employees themselves to change some of their habits.

The obvious assumption of Green Marketing is that potential consumers will see a "green" product or service as an advantage and base their purchase decision accordingly. It is a positive choice as it combines trade, technology, social effects and ecology. It is an activity that is both commercial and environmental, because it deals with selling sustainable goods and services in an equally sustainable way.

Companies that develop new and improved products, and services with environmental inputs in mind give themselves access to new markets, increase the sustainability of their profits and enjoy a competitive advantage over companies that do not care about the environment.

To implement a Green Marketing strategy you must focus on 4 components:

as well as sustainable partnerships with entities or other companies.

It is often necessary to develop new products in the search for innovative materials, and be able to match high performances with a reduced environmental impact.

Furthermore, sustainable product innovation must not only concern the environmental impact of the production and transport of goods, but also the way in which it is used by consumers, for the reduced impact to be maintained throughout the life cycle of the product.

In the absence of a strategic foundation Green Marketing makes no sense and can also be harmful - it cannot be done just because it’s fashionable or because it could bring more contacts to the company. In fact environmental communication which is not based on real elements involves great risks, such as the loss of credibility, the waste of resources or, worse, the accusation of greenwashing.

Green Marketing is certainly not the solution to the problem of climate catastrophe, but it is a way to make people participate in the issue, as it offers ecology creative and effective tools to spread the message.

Marketing is just the tip of the iceberg, the rest of the company must work to make the supply of resources, production and distribution sustainable.

It is only a small part of the solution, but it is certainly the most visible and therefore has a fundamental role because it can influence consumers and change their consumption styles.

Guglielmo Sallustio
Partner, Milan

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