Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture

“When I'm talking about productivity, I'm not saying don't be productive, I'm saying your standards of productivity should be built to support the type of work that you're trying to do.”
– Rahaf Harfoush, Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture​


Red Thread is a think tank and globally distributed network of strategists, designers, anthropologists, researchers, photographers and producers, that explores the implications of digital culture on how we live our lives. It tracks the deep (and often hidden) behavioral shifts that are taking place within organizations and individuals as global technology platforms enable the unprecedented exchange of ideas, information and opinions.​

Role in the future of work

Red Thread is working to find new ways to understand productivity that are better suited to knowledge work. Their hope is that their work will help organizations shift to a healthier relationship with productivity and work, which boosts both workers' wellbeing and business performance. ​

Growth to date

Founded by digital anthropologist and author Rahaf Harfoush in 2012, Red Thread has grown from a solo business to a global network of strategists, designers, anthropologists, researchers, photographers and producers. ​

Barriers and challenges

Pre-pandemic, many organizations were not ready to talk openly about productivity norms, or found it difficult to make reassessing productivity a priority. However, recent research and the experience of the pandemic have helped to change perceptions and made more organizations see the relevance of this issue to their business. ​

Looking to the future 

In keeping with its values, Red Thread's founder Rahaf Harfoush is not focusing on material growth for the business. Instead, she's reverse engineering the business strategy to think about how the institute's work supports the whole lives and opportunities of its network, not just the bottom line. 

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