Recent research from The Institute of Leadership & Management reveals distributed teams are a reality of the modern workplace, but organisations are failing to capitalise on their potential, with communication failures and poor working practices being widespread. We make recommendations to address these issues.

Remote teams are a reality of the modern workplace, but organisations are failing to capitalise on their potential with widespread poor communication and working practices among remote teams.

The study highlights a range of potential benefits, including increased business reach, improved productivity, cost and time savings, and access to a more diverse set of skills and experience. But members of distributed teams report a number of barriers including over-reliance on email, inadequate or unclear communication and a lack of shared identity and focus.

Report findings

  • 83% of distributed workers say they feel overwhelmed by email

  • 88% of distributed workers struggle with inconsistent working practices and miscommunication

  • 84% of distributed workers report improvements to their work-life balance, but a lack of team identity can cause isolation and loneliness.

  • Targeted training can help organisations to get the basics right and increase efficiency and wellbeing 


We recommend a tailored management approach that recognises the special characteristics of remote teams, including the lack of visibility and face-to-face interaction, which can make it harder to build and maintain trust. Specific suggestions include:

  • Create a clear shared plan – ensure everyone has a clear picture of team objectives, deadlines and how each member will contribute.
  • Build a team ethos – focus on creating a collaborative team culture, with regular face-to-face interaction and social time.
  • Use the right technologies – set strict guidelines on email usage and replace with chat and video tools wherever appropriate.
  • Instil a sense of balance across your team - monitor workloads, watch out for signs of stress or isolation and create an open culture where employees can raise concerns.