I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to design digital workplaces or “offices in the cloud.” These environments enable companies to allow flexible and remote working for their teams. I also teach the digital literacy, fluency, communication and collaboration skills needed to work in these modern technology-rich workplaces.

Technology is completely revolutionising the way we work. There are so many advantages on the opposite side of moving from an analogue to a digital workplace, that the effort to do so is definitely worth it. Some of these include creating a happier more productive workforce, being able to access talent anywhere in the world, being able to reduce or in some cases eliminate the need for office space.

However, the path to these benefits doesn’t come without hurdles that need to be crossed. Here are three.

Designing a Digital Workplace

This is the easier of the hurdles but a hurdle none the less. It requires creative thinking to take the plethora of tools now available and design a workplace that dramatically improves current workflows and creates a great employee digital work experience, enabling an unobstructed flow of communication and information. Each tool, whether it be the virtual document collaboration you decide on, or the real-time chat application, or what video technology you use for one-on-one or for larger all-hands meetings, has to match the desired outcomes. The tools must replicate and improve on the face-to-face interactions considered normal for those in a co-located building.


Certain workplace cultures are not a fit for agile, flexible and remote working. If a leadership team has difficulty trusting those they employ to get their jobs done regardless of where they may find themselves physically, or if a physical presence in an office is a measure of productivity instead of results, then unlocking the full potential of a digital workplace becomes very unlikely. Organisations that have developed a “results only work environments” fare better.

Virtual Work Skills

A digital workplace by definition is a technology rich environment. If those that need to work in this environment do not have the virtual work skills to do so, then adding world class technology will be pointless. Virtual work skills are particularly important for leadership teams, since they need to set the example of “working-out-loud” virtually. Without a strong leadership buy-in and a commitment to lead by example, the change that needs to happen in order for teams to learn how to work virtually will become painstaking, if not impossible. Virtual work skills include the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively using digital tools. It includes having ICT literacy, the ability to adopt and adapt to ever changing and advancing workplace technology. It requires media literacy, the ability to produce professional media for consumption by internal teams or external partners and customers. Virtual work skills are a non negotiable.

Over to you, what are some other hurdles that you can identify?