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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.

In some reporting yesterday in the Guardian, Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope said the company would likely never have staff return to their desks full-time. He called the idea “old fashioned” which of course it is given what we now know about remote working. However Unilever, as with many others, are reluctant to cut the physical office umbilical cord.

Why?

Here is the reason:

Unilever was still keen to return to offices after seeing a “slow erosion of social capital” as working from home prevents colleagues from meeting in person. Many business leaders have voiced concerns about lack of innovation and the impact on training younger staff when workers do not congregate.”

If this is the experience a business is having then it’s a sure sign of a design error in the digital workplace accompanied by a lack of digital literacy & fluency of those working in it.

How can one draw this conclusion you ask?

Because there are several very high profile, highly profitable, fully remote companies who have all solved these challenges.

So the fact is you CAN have a fully remote office-less team, that doesn’t experience social capital erosion, that is very innovative and can onboard and train younger staff effectively without the need for a physical presence.

However this does require a meticulous attention to detail, upskilling staff digital literacy and a deep understanding of the successful remote work “operating system.”