10 Ways to Motivate Remote Teams
Remote work Team Management

10 Ways to Motivate Remote Teams


“How to motivate remote teams?”

A pertinent question at a time when 58.25% of companies plan to have a hybrid workplace while 26.25% intend to stay fully distributed for the foreseeable future (source: HubStaff).

As a remote-first company with employees across different time zones, we have discovered a few hacks to create an effective work environment. Presenting the top 10 ways to motivate remote teams.

Why motivate remote teams?

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months, you must have heard about quiet quitting. It’s when employees don’t outrightly quit their job but quit the idea of going above and beyond. And not surprisingly, remote working is one of the primary reasons for it.

Gallup claims it costs the global economy a whopping $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. That is because demotivated remote teams are less productive. Moreover, demotivation is contagious.

But when your team is motivated, magic happens.

  • Improved productivity – Highly motivated remote teams have better productivity since they work faster and contribute more.
  • Lower absenteeism – Motivated employees love to be at work and are less likely to be absent or take unplanned time off.
  • Better proactiveness – Motivated employees work toward improving how things are done in the organization and are proactive in reaching out to make it happen.
  • Higher loyalty – Motivated staff are likelier to remain at their current job (source: Inc).

10 ways to motivate remote teams

Motivations are of two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Luckily, both exist in your employees. You just have to identify and use them to encourage your team members.

On a high level, motivation is based on what people want. At heart, it is about helping your remote team achieve what they want from their work, whether it is being recognized or personal fulfillment.

Some ways to motivate your remote employees include:

  • Offering the right tools to help them succeed.
  • Building a culture of trust and belonging.
  • Adopting a growth mindset.
  • Having candid communications.

Let’s look at these and a few more in detail.

1. Provide the right tools

Technology is a great enabler. With the right tools, your team can submit their work on time, regardless of location. In contrast, an ill-equipped team is unproductive and often demotivated.

Not only do remote teams need good synchronous and asynchronous tools, but they also need a good internet connection, time tracking tools, notetaking apps or AI note taker, etc., to do their job effectively.

These tools are crucial to foster collaboration and communication, which can significantly impact your remote team’s motivation and eventual success.

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2. Encourage a growth mindset

A growth mindset believes intelligence is malleable and can be fostered by collaborating, sharing information, and seeking feedback. It’s when an individual realizes that there is room to stretch regardless of where you are in your career.

Inculcating growth mindset philosophies in your remote teams is highly motivating. It makes them sign up for various training programs and allows them to grow personally and professionally.

In other words, a growth mindset focuses on your remote workforce’s performance goals and personal development.

Motivate remote teams

3. Provide a dedicated workspace

One of the most common tips for being motivated while working from home is having your own office.

Think of a typical office workspace. It has all the infrastructure you need to work to stay focused and productive.

And there’s a psychology of different physical spaces. Your bedroom is separate from your kitchen. Your kitchen is different from your balcony. What differentiates these spaces is their layout, which also defines their purposes. So, when you enter the bedroom, your brain knows it’s time to sleep.

A dedicated workspace at home will virtually remove your remote team from their personal space and make them feel like they are sitting at an office desk.

It brings a sense of disciple and legitimacy to their work environment. They are driven and no longer need to do something that isn’t work-related.

4. Have an employee recognition program

Do you know when National Employee Appreciation Day is?

It doesn’t matter. Employee appreciation knows no calendar; it should be an ongoing thing.

More than 80% workforce wished they were recognized more. That’s understandable—remote work can lead to burnout, disconnect, and low morale.

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Therefore, having a spot award or an annual R&R ceremony is critical for your remote workforce as it makes them feel engaged. And here are some other eye-opening stats:

  • Recognition boosts productivity: 92% of employees claim they are likelier to repeat actions they were appreciated for.
  • Rewards increase retention:  91% of employees agree that a strong recognition culture makes them want to work for their organization.
  • Recognition increases satisfaction: 91% of employees agree that recognition boosts happiness.

It proves that you see your remote employees as more than just an email address and that their achievements are acknowledged and appreciated. They will feel responsible and accountable and will be willing to work just as hard on their next assignment.

And just for information’s sake, National Employee Appreciation Day is on the 4th of March!

5. Encourage passion projects

Everyone has hidden talents and interests that go beyond their daily job. Identify these and put them to good use.

Passion projects are an excellent way to unleash creative energy. They don’t always have to be related to your team’s core responsibilities.

And don’t think that these projects may take productive time away. Remember, some of Google’s most successful products, like AdSense and Gmail, were passion projects of different team members.

You can discuss these projects during your 1:1 meetings and encourage team members to set aside 10% of their time. Who knows, your next big product might be around the corner.

6. Keep communication open

Communication is the key to a successful workplace. It is always easy to walk up to your colleague and discuss work when you are in the office. But things have changed with the rise of remote and hybrid work.

Remote teams must keep the ongoing communication thread alive with different synchronous tools. And it is even better if it is done via a video conferencing tool with the camera on.

Having visual clues helps to understand better someone’s body language and what they think. Keep it conversational, and try introducing humor if it is workplace appropriate.

You can also use an AI note-taker solution to immerse yourself in the conversations while letting the tool take notes. Being fully present in the meeting can drive meaningful interactions, increase visibility, and eliminate miscommunication.

You can also leverage asynchronous messengers like Slack or MS Teams to keep the lines of conversation open and make your remote teams feel motivated and connected.

7. Build trust

Building trust isn’t easy. It is a gradual process that develops after spending time together. And it takes even more time in remote teams since you only interact through screens.

To build trust in a remote setup, you need to build rapport with employees and make an extra effort to learn about their work styles and, maybe, their personal lives if they are willing to share.

Trust can go a long way to boosting the morale of your remote employees.

Build trust to motivate remote teams

Trust your remote teams to keep them motivated and give them the autonomy to get their job done and hone their time management skills.

A word of caution: you may get tempted to micro-manage your remote team to see if they are doing their tasks properly. But that’s not going to do anything to foster a healthy work relationship.

8. Measure motivation with survey tools

Regularly check in with your remote teams to understand their motivation levels. You can use a short survey or have regular syncs.

Ask probing questions that compel your team to answer what is and isn't working for them and what they would like to change in the current setup. Discuss career goals and aspirations.

Having such a sync or survey sends a strong signal to your remote employees that you are serious about their well-being and that their feedback is appreciated.

Take the conversation to the next level by analyzing your survey results and asking your team to share what impacts their morale and motivation.

This will help you prioritize what is required to motivate employees to achieve their key performance indicators and stay engaged.

9. Have feedback sessions regularly

Employees, whether remote or in-office, want feedback. It makes them feel more involved and inspired.

Aside from annual and bi-annual performance reviews, regularly providing constructive feedback to remote employees is critical to align expectations and objectives with the individual’s performance.

When you provide feedback, be specific, data-driven, and direct it in a positive light.

10. Set clear expectations

Being driven requires knowing the end goal. So, be clear about each team member’s roles and responsibilities. Let them know your company culture or the behavior you expect.

For instance, you expect your remote teams to:

  • Take a certain number of holidays annually
  • Be available at a particular time of the day
  • Provide status updates at the end of the week or day

Similarly, set expectations regarding the performance of each team member. Be specific and goal-oriented and ensure these are achievable. Unrealistic and unclear goals can demotivate people and cause them to doubt their capabilities.

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Remote working is here to stay. Because of this, knowing how to motivate remote teams is a must. Employee motivation will continue to be critical for team productivity.

And while you are at it, remember employee motivation isn’t a one-hit-wonder. It takes consistent effort and investment to yield the desired results.

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