Teams - Remote and Virtual

by Claire Snowdon and Mark Bouch

Helping people thrive

An understanding of personality preferences will help the remote team manager to understand which team members will be best suited to remote working. It will also help you to get the best out of relationships with remote team members.

Personality preferences

People’s behaviours are influenced by their personality preferences. Their personality can be better understood by applying simple psychometric instruments. In theory, all people with any personality preference can adapt to remote working; however, the level of human interaction (with customer or team) is likely to have a significant impact on an individual’s energy and motivation.


Remote team leaders can avoid a lot of problems by matching people to the work that needs to be done.

Extrovert and ideas people

Extroverts gain energy and stimulation from other people. When extroverts lose contact with people as a consequence of remote teaming, they will lose energy and may need more management time and perhaps face-to-face contact so they can interact. They are well suited to tasks that require frequent and ongoing communication. Make sure they’re in an office with teammates with whom they can collaborate.

Introvert and reflective people

Introverts gain their energy from within. They are frequently described as self-contained and inwardly focused. The remote team environment may suit them well, as they are able to ignore distractions and focus on the task, but they can forget about other people in the team and their need to interact.

Warning signs and what to do about them

There are certain warning signs that will alert you when a team member is falling out of the team. Some of the pressures of life in a remote team differ to those in a regular team. The working environment can contribute to team member stress, when team members feel that they can no longer control their work and environment. For many remote workers, particularly those working from home, this leads to feelings of being trapped, since they can neither get away from work nor change their environment.

It is more challenging to spot the signs of stress or burnout in a remote team. Typical symptoms of burnout include withdrawal, and feeling constantly tired or emotionally drained with work. Even if a person is meeting deadlines and producing quality work, the signs to look for are

  • Less interaction with co-workers
  • You hear from them less and less
  • They become more isolated by withdrawing from normal working relationships
  • Reduced trust in co-workers
  • More evidence of conflict in relationships.

In remote teams, leaders and co-workers need to create an environment where it is OK to talk about feelings, so that feelings of frustration with the job and work environment can be surfaced before they result in a decline in job performance. At least a few times a year, ask what’s working and what’s not, and then make changes if necessary.