From social distancing to virtual connections

How the surge of remote working could remold shared spaces

  • Luisa Errichiello Italian National Research Council (CNR) Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed), Naples, Italy
  • Daniele Demarco Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR).
Keywords: Coronavirus, Remote working, Smart city, Workplaces, Identity


Covid-19 will have significant impacts on the world, changing many aspects of our lives, including urban life and work routines. Challenges arising from the spread of the coronavirus are likely to push the digital infrastructuring of cities, accelerating the transition towards the smart city. Additionally, we may see a permanent shift towards remote work arrangements, notably telecommuting and smart working. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the affirmation of such a scenario requires us to reflect on the challenges of an interconnected society produced by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Taking remote working as an illustrative example, the paper offers a critical reflection on how ICTs can influence our perceptions of places and argues that places play a key role in influencing the patterns of remote workers’ identity construction. The authors caution about the dark side of digital connectivity, pointing at the risks that a prolonged detachment from reality and the loss of places can put on remote workers’ identity. In order to overcome potential tensions, remote workers should avoid too much connectivity continuously balancing identity performance in both physical and virtual workplaces. Implications for both organizational and urban design are provided.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Luisa Errichiello, Italian National Research Council (CNR) Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed), Naples, Italy

Researcher at the Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR). Her research interests are related to organizational innovation and the interplay between technology and organizing. Within these fields, she carried on research on practice-based service innovation, the impact of ICT adoption on organizational routines, the organization of remote work arrangements and new work practices in collaborative spaces. Research results have been presented at various conferences including the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, and have been published in international journals, such as Economics and Management of Services, Facilities, CERN Idea Square Journal of Experimental Innovation, International Journal of Tourism Research and Sustainabiliity.

Daniele Demarco, Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR).

Researcher at the Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR). He completed his Master degree in Art and Humanities at University of Naples Federico II and obtained his Ph.D. degree in Philosophy at the Italian Institute for Human Science (SUM). By adopting interdisciplinary research perspectives, he investigates how technological innovations and virtual atmospheres are influencing our perception of the world and of the space we live in. His activities include collaborations on several research projects experimenting with interdisciplinary approaches straddling philosophy, urban planning and management.


Adamsone, L. Baltina, I., Judrupa, I., Senfelde, M., & Vitola, A. (2013). Overview on the smart work centres in Europe. Institute of National and Regional Economy, Riga Technical University.

Angelidou, M. (2015). Smart cities: A conjuncture of four forces. Cities, 47, 95-106.

Ashforth, B. E., Harrison, S. H., & Corley, K. G. (2008). Identification in organizations: An examination of four fundamental questions. Journal of management, 34(3), 325-374.

Ashforth, B. E., & Schinoff, B. S. (2016). Identity under construction: How individuals come to define themselves in organizations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 3, 111-137.

Augé, M. (1992). Non-lieux. Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité. Paris: Le Seuil.

Augé, M. (1996). About Non-places. Architectural Design, 66 (121), 82–3.

Bailey, D. E., & Kurland, N. B. (2002). A review of telework research: Findings, new directions, and lessons for the study of modern work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(4), 383–400.

Barber, L. K., & Santuzzi, A. M. (2015). Please respond ASAP: Workplace telepressure and employee recovery. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 20, 172-189.

Bean, C.J., & Eisenberg, E.M. (2006). Employee sensemaking in the transition to nomadic work. Journal of Organizational Change Management.

Beck, U. (1998). Wie wird Demokratie im Zeitalter der Globalisierung möglich? Eine Einleitung. in Id. (Ed.), Politik der Globalisierung. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.

Berger, P. & Luckmann T. (1966). The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Doubleday.

Bodei, R. (2016). Scomposizioni. Forme dell'individuo moderno. Bologna: il Mulino.

Boorsma, B., & Mitchell, S. (2011). Work-Life innovation, smart work–a paradigm shift transforming: How, where, and when work gets done, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG). Retrieved from:

Brewer, M. B., & Gardner, W. (1996). Who is this" We"? Levels of collective identity and self representations. Journal of personality and social psychology, 71(1), 83.

Brocklehurst, M. (2001). Power, identity and new technology homework: Implications fornew forms' of organizing. Organization studies, 22(3), 445-466.

Cascio, W.F. (2000). Managing a virtual workplace. Academy of Management Perspectives, 14(3), 81-90.

Castells, M. (1996). The Rise of the Network Society. Blackwell: Cambridge.

Clapperton, G., & Vanhoutte, P. (2014). The Smarter Working Manifesto: When, Where and How Do You Work Best?. Sunmakers: Oxford.

Cousins, K.C., & Robey, D. (2005). Human agency in a wireless world: Patterns of technology use in nomadic computing environments. Information and Organization, 15(2), 151-180.

Coyne, R. (2007). Thinking through virtual reality: Place, non-place and situated cognition. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, 10(3), 26-38.

Cunha, J., Pianese, T., & Errichiello, L., (2020), “Paradoxes of Control in Remote Work Arrangements”, 4th RGCS symposium "Designing the Commons: Collaborative spaces, Open communities, Smart Cities", Lyon, 23-24 January, 2020.

De Kok, A. (2016). The new way of working: bricks, bytes, and behavior. In J. Lee (Ed.), The impact of ICT on work, pp. 9-40, Springer: Singapore.

Demarco, D. (2019). I concetti di spazio e di luogo nell’immaginario occidentale contemporaneo. Per una definizione dell’esperienza nella surmodernità. Laboratorio dell’ISPF. Rivista elettronica di testi saggi e strumenti, 15(17). 1-25.

Dery, K., & Hafermalz, E. (2016). Seeing is belonging: Remote working, identity and staying connected. In J. Lee (Ed.), The impact of ICT on work, pp. 109-126, Springer: Singapore.

Elliott, A. & Urry, J. (2010). Mobile lives. London: Routledge.

Elster, J. (1976). The Multiple Self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998). What is agency?. American journal of sociology, 103(4), 962-1023.

Eom, S.J. (2016). The use of smart work in government: empirical analysis of Korean experiences. Government Information Quarterly, 33 (3), 562-571.

Errichiello, L., & Pianese, T. (2018, July). Organizational control in the context of remote working: a synthesis of empirical research. Academy of Management Proceedings, 1, p. 15907. Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Errichiello, L., & Pianese, T. (2016). Organizational control in the context of remote work arrangements: a conceptual framework. In Widener, S., Epstein, M. & Verbeeten, F. (Eds), Performance Measurement and Management Control: Contemporary Issues, Studies in Managerial and Financial Accounting, , vol. 31, pp. 273-305. Emerald group Publishing.

Errichiello, L., & Marasco, A. (2014). Open service innovation in smart cities: A framework for exploring innovation networks in the development of new city services. Advanced Engineering Forum, 11, 115-124.

Errichiello, L., & Micera, R. (2018). Leveraging smart open innovation for achieving cultural sustainability: Learning from a new city museum project. Sustainability, 10(6), 1964.

Errichiello, L.,& Pianese, T. (2019). Toward a theory on workplaces for smart workers. Facilities, 38 (3/4), 298-315.

Errichiello, L., & Pianese, T. (2018). Smart work centers as “creative workspaces” for remote employees. CERN IdeaSquare Journal of Experimental Innovation, 2(1), 14-21.

European Parliament (Committee for Industry, Research and Energy) (2014). Mapping Smart Cities in the EU, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific Policy, IP/A/ITRE/ST/2013-02, PE 507.480.

Foucault, M. (2019). Les corps utopique - Les Hétérotopies. Paris: Lignes.

Gandini, A. (2015). The rise of coworking spaces: a literature review. Ephemera:Theory and Politics in Organization, 15(1), 193-205.

Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.

Grossi, G., & Pianezzi, D. (2017). Smart cities: Utopia or neoliberal ideology?. Cities, 69, 79-85.

Hollands, R. G. (2008). Will the real smart city please stand up? Intelligent, progressive or entrepreneurial?. City, 12(3), 303-320.

Khanna, P. (2016). Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization. New York: Random House.

Kolb, D. G. (2008). Exploring the metaphor of connectivity: Attributes, dimensions and duality. Organization Studies, 29(1), 127-144.

Kolb, D.G., Caza, A., & Collins, P.D. (2012). States of connectivity: New questions and new directions. Organization Studies, 33(2), 267-273.

Komninos, N., Pallot, M., & Schaffers, H. (2013). Special issue on smart cities and the future internet in Europe. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 4(2), 119-134.

Kummitha, R. K. R., & Crutzen, N. (2017). How do we understand smart cities? An evolutionary perspective. Cities, 67, 43-52.

Leary, M.R., & Kowalski, R.M. (1990). Impression management: A literature review and two-component model. Psychological bulletin, 107(1), 34.

Leonardi, P. M., Treem, J. W., & Jackson, M. H. (2010). The connectivity paradox: Using technology to both decrease and increase perceptions of distance in distributed work arrangements. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 38 (1), 85-105.

Lewis, S. L. & Maslin, M. A. (2019). The human planet: How we created the Anthropocene. Pelican: London.

Magnaghi, A. (2010). Il progetto locale. Verso la coscienza di luogo. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

Marasco, A., & Errichiello, L. (2016). The role of networking in the development of new city services. A framework for exploring smart public-private service innovation networks. Revue Européenne d’Économie et Management des Services, 2016(1), 65-100. 10.15122/isbn.978-2-406-06277-6.p.0065

Marramao, G. (2009). Passaggio a Occidente. Filosofia e globalizzazione. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

Mayer-Schönberger V., & Cukier, K. (2013). Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Mazmanian, M., Orlikowski, W. J., & Yates, J. (2013). The autonomy paradox: The implications of mobile email devices for knowledge professionals. Organization science, 24(5), 1337-1357.

McEwan, A. M. (2016). Smart working: Creating the next wave. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

McNeill, J.R. & Engelke P. (2014). The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Merkel, J. (2015). Coworking in the city. Ephemera: Theory and Politics. Organization, 15(1), 121-139.

Merriman, P. (2004). Driving places: Marc Augé, non-places, and the geographies of England’s M1 motorway. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(4-5), 145-167.

Micropol (2014), SWC matrix, research report. Retrieved from:

Mosannenzadeh, F., & Vettorato, D. (2014). Defining smart city. A conceptual framework based on keyword analysis. Tema. Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment.

Nam, T., & Pardo, T. A. (2011). Conceptualizing Smart City with Dimensions of Technology, People, and Institutions. 12th Annual International Digital Government Research Conference “Digital Government Innovation in Challenging Times”, ACM New York, NY, p. 282-291.

Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The duality of technology: Rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization science, 3(3), 398-427.

Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: A practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization science, 11(4), 404-428.

Paskaleva, K. A. (2011). The smart city: A nexus for open innovation. Intelligent Buildings International, 3, 153-171.

Ratti, C. & Claudel, M. (2017). La città di domani. Come le reti stanno cambiando il futuro urbano. Milano: Einaudi.

Sewell, G., & Taskin, L. (2015). Out of sight, out of mind in a new world of work? Autonomy, control, and spatiotemporal scaling in telework. Organization Studies, 36(11), 1507-1529.

Symon, G., & Pritchard, K. (2015). Performing the responsive and committed employee through the sociomaterial mangle of connection. Organization studies, 36(2), 241-263.

Twenge, J.M. (2017). iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us. New York: Atria Books.

Virilio, P. (1998). La bombe informatique. Paris: Galilée.

Virilio, P. (2004). Ville panique. Ailleurs commence ici. Paris: Galilée.

Wajcman, J., & Rose, E. (2011). Constant connectivity: Rethinking interruptions at work. Organization studies, 32(7), 941-961.

How to Cite
ErrichielloL., & DemarcoD. (2020). From social distancing to virtual connections. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 151-164.
Special Issue - Covid-19 vs City-20