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How Remote Teams Lose Connection


How Remote Teams Lose Connection

To manage a remote team successfully, it is essential to recognize and address problematic behavior before it escalates. In this article, Sachin Sanghvi offers a few tips to recognise the signs. 

Once upon a time in the pharmaceutical industry, a grand experiment emerged as a result of an unprecedented global pandemic. White collar workers everywhere were sent home, uncertain of the future of their work. Yet, within a month, a surprising revelation unfolded: virtual teams could not only match, but often surpass, the productivity of co-located teams. This new era brought forth countless reasons to celebrate:  Employees embraced newfound mobility, moving closer to family without sacrificing their prestigious careers. Gone were the dreaded morning commutes, replaced by leisurely walks and midday errands.

Three years into this grand experiment, however, the cracks began to show. People felt increasingly disconnected, and teams started to “go feral”. It was in this turbulent landscape that Josie, the newly appointed VP of clinical operations at a top 10 pharmaceutical company, found himself navigating uncharted waters.

Josie had stepped into the role after the previous leader’s unexpected retirement, and she was eager to make her mark. The first challenge he needed to solve was related to the study teams’ productivity:  It had plummeted over the last year, and was putting their final db lock in jeopardy.  He was determined to figure out why.  Here were some of his observations 

Delayed patient enrollment: patient enrollment for several clinical trials had fallen significantly behind schedule. causing major delays in reaching the target sample size for pivotal Phase III trials.

Increased protocol deviations:  a sharp increase in the number of protocol deviations across multiple clinical trials. study teams were struggling to ensure that trial procedures were followed consistently, potentially compromising the quality of the data collected and the overall integrity of the trials. This issue raised concerns about the team’s ability to meet regulatory requirements and maintain the scientific rigor necessary for successful trial outcomes.

Inefficient data monitoring and analysis:  the process of data monitoring and analysis had become less efficient, with longer turnaround times for the data review and quality control checks. This inefficiency was delaying the availability of interim and final analysis results, hindering the team’s ability to make informed decisions about the ongoing trials and slowing down overall progress.

One day, Josie joined a virtual team meeting to be a fly on the wall and see if he could learn more about the situation. As the meeting progressed, he witnessed firsthand the breakdown in norms that plagued his team.

During the meeting, Joe from clinical science and Sam from clinical development engaged in a heated exchange, each cutting the other off mid-sentence, their voices dripping with sarcasm. The once-cordial working relationship between them had devolved into a series of snide remarks and veiled insults, highlighting the loss of mutual respect and trust among team members.


Key points include:

  • Aggressive language
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Delayed responses


Read the full article, Has your study team gone feral?, on