Organisations are failing to capitalise on the potential for remote and home working to improve performance and efficiency, with widespread poor communication and working practices among remote teams, research by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) has found.
The study with over 1,000 remote workers highlighted a range of potential benefits for organisations with a remote or geographically-dispersed workforce, including increased business reach, improved productivity, cost and time savings, and access to a more diverse set of skills and experience. But remote team members reported a number of barriers to effective working, including over-reliance on email, inadequate or unclear communication and a lack of shared identity and focus.
ILM’s report, 'Going remote: Leading dispersed teams', found that almost nine out of ten (88%) remote workers felt their team struggled to ensure consistency of practice, with the same number highlighting the increased risk of misunderstandings when teams are not co-located. More than eight out of ten (83%) remote workers felt overwhelmed by email, as teams fail to capitalise on alternative technologies, such as video or audio conferencing, to enable regular collective communications.
ILM head of research and policy, Kate Cooper, said: “We know that remote teams are a reality of the modern workplace. By 2020 it is predicted that half of all full time employees will be working remotely*. But this poses a real management challenge, it is harder to manage team members if you rarely meet in person. This research shows that many managers of dispersed teams are struggling to get the basics right and develop a clear shared focus and team ethos.”