The negative impact of individual perceived isolation in distributed teams and its possible remedies

Sut I. Wong*, Marthe Berntzen, Gillian Warner-Søderholm, Steffen Robert Giessner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
105 Downloads (Pure)


Previous research on distributed teams indicates that physical distance between team members is problematic for team functioning. We advance this research by investigating the role of team members' psychological experiences of isolation using both a longitudinal diary study and a time-lag field study, applying a Job Demand–Resource (JD-R) theory lens (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017). With the diary study, we capture daily fluctuations of perceived isolation and its antecedents and consequences. Results show that (a) where distributed team members work, and (b) how much they communicate, contribute to the degree to which distributed team members may feel isolated. The combined results of the diary study and the time-lagged field study show that 1) perceived isolation, and 2) perceived isolation combined with high role ambiguity, contribute to experiences of helplessness. Subsequently, feelings of helplessness hamper the level of perceived team implicit coordination. Theoretical and practical implications for managing distributed teams are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-927
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

We are grateful for the constructive feedback from the Editor and the Reviewers. The research was supported by the Norwegian Research Council (275347) and the Slovenian Research Agency (J5‐2555).

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Human Resource Management Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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