Get to know SmartWork Pilots activities: A chat with Sofia Ortet, SmartWork coordinator at Caritas Diocesana de Coimbra (Portugal)

As the pilot activities of SmartWork project are about to kick-off in Portugal and Denmark shortly, we are talking with Sofia Ortet, a SmartWork coordinator at Caritas Diocesana de Coimbra about the pilot set up, expectations and older workers’ reactions to the SmartWork solution.

Please tell us more about the pilot project: who are the participants and what will you test, precisely?

Sofia Ortet (CDC): Pilot participants are older workers, over 55 of age, mainly performing office functions and administrative tasks, but also working as social educators, operational and social assistants.

We are aiming to involve at least 30 employees from CDC’s active workforce,both women and men. Additionally, their close family carers and managers will be invited to take part in the pilot, by testing two specific services aimed at supporting their care (iCare) and managing tasks (digiTeam), respectively.

As not every one of the pilot participants spends 100% of their working time at the computer, and also considering different levels of interest and digital ability, CDC is intending to split them into smaller groups of 10 participants aimed at partially testing, respectively, (1) the smartphone related, (2) the computer related, and (3) the whole components of the system.

2. What are your expectations towards the pilot?

Sofia Ortet (CDC): The usability and functionalities of the SmartWork system have been updated and/or improved by technical partners, following the users’ feedback (workers 55+, managers, relatives) provided at the end of the pre-trial implemented between October 2020 and January 2021. This means that, in the pilots the focus will be placed on the lessons learned by the pilot facilitators, quite aligned with the overall impressions of the majority of participants, namely: (1) the need for technical improvement and effective integration of the different system services; (2) the importance of previous and supervised training of the participants in the SmartWork system use; (3) the need for a closer interaction between the project team and the end-users, to keep them engaged and motivated.

As mentioned above, by simplifying the testing process and better adjusting it to the users reported preferences and limitations, CDC is expecting to achieve greater pilot engagement and active participation from the participants (for at least 2 or 3 months of validation trial implementation), while providing them with an increased and more enthusiastic user experience.

3. What’s the people’s reaction, how do they approach the activities?

Sofia Ortet (CDC): Due to some operational and technical issues, we are still at an initial implementation phase at CDC, where not all the participants are yet engaged. Simultaneously, as the recruitment process and the info sessions are still taking place, the new participants are progressively being included. In fact, at the first contact with the SmartWork project and digital solution, people have been showing some apprehension, mainly due to the fact that these are, indeed, new procedures and types of (AI) interaction, mainly considering that we are talking about their workplace and  daily routines. However, as they gain greater awareness of the project goals and methods, and get more familiar with the system functionalities and advantages, the excitement and expectations start to rise on them, which CDC is hoping to be able to highly correspond to.

Thank you for your time and good luck with the pilots!