5 Ways to Motivate Your Team When Working Remotely


Ray Slater BerryContent Lead at Outreach Humans

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The increased popularity of remote work models has been exciting for workers and employers worldwide. It provides better work-life balance, allows for flexibility, is better for the environment, increases productivity and even saves money. What’s not to love?

Article 7 Minutes
5 Ways to Motivate Your Team When Working Remotely

One of the biggest drawbacks of remote work is difficulty staying motivated throughout the workday. Even though it’s convenient working from the comfort of your own home, many people have come to rely on the structure of an office environment to stay motivated.

Luckily, there are a great number of small steps you can take to help your remote team stay motivated.

1. Establish ground rules

One of the beautiful things about remote work is how it empowers people with flexibility and increased work-life balance. Having said that, one of the biggest keys to effectively managing a remote team is setting clear expectations and establishing ground rules from the get-go.

For example, you might want to give your employees the option to set their own working hours, it’s a great idea to ask them to communicate exactly what those working hours are. This is especially important if you’re working with different time zones. Alternatively, you might have specific blocks of time where team members need to be available. This also needs to be clearly communicated.

Whatever the case may be for your business, comprehensive project and team management solutions like Asana and Connecteam have tools that can help with your scheduling needs.

Elsewhere, there might be specific guidelines that team members need to follow in the completion of their work. In order to clearly communicate what those guidelines are, consider putting together an internal knowledge base that can be sent out as needed.

In terms of time management, if there’s a specific amount of work team members should be completing each day, week or month, those expectations should be communicated as well. Try setting goals, both individually and as a team, and checking in periodically to make sure things are progressing as they should be.

2. Remember to check in and give feedback regularly

Without an office environment, it’s easy to miss opportunities for more informal conversations and quick face-to-face meetings. In fact, some of the most common issues that arise in remote work scenarios relate to loneliness and difficulty collaborating and communicating. Help combat this by integrating check-ins and regular feedback into your remote work workflows.

In order to check in effectively, communicate with team members about things that aren’t purely practical. If you’re working on a project together, ask them how things are coming along and whether they need any support, even if there isn’t a specific deadline or deliverable on the horizon. Take that extra minute or two during Zoom meetings to ask how team members are doing. Make sure to recognize milestones as they come up, either personal or professional.

This kind of personalized communication helps increase morale and foster camaraderie, all while keeping things professional. It also creates a sense of knowing each other on a level that isn’t exclusively work-related, which helps achieve a sense of community.

Informal communication also extends to providing regular feedback. Many team leaders have the understandable but harmful tendency to only share feedback when there’s a problem to be addressed or work to be edited, especially in the case of remote work. When there aren’t any face-to-face meetings, there’s no opportunity for a quick “Great work,” or “Thanks for all your great efforts on that project” at the coffee machine.

Be intentional about providing quick feedback, both good and bad, with your remote team. You can do so by video, email and even a quick message. Always be sure to recognize work well done when it’s warranted.

3. Always strive for improvement

When managing a remote team, it’s especially easy to fall into habits and routine. When you have systems in place that are working well enough, many team leaders overlook opportunities for improvement when they’re not actually meeting their colleagues face-to-face.

Even though it might seem more difficult to implement changes and try new things with a remote team, we’d encourage you not to think that way. In fact, it’s easier than you might think. There are so many resources and tools available online nowadays, and many of them are free. Remote and work-from-home business models are becoming increasingly commonplace. In fact, a 2021 report showed that there’s been a 44% increase in remote work over the last five years. As such, many people are creating solutions to make managing remote teams as easy as possible.

If this resonates with you but you aren’t sure where to start, try asking yourself what aspects of your remote work model are working, and which ones aren’t. For example:

  • Is our team communication working well, or are people missing messages, emails and other key information?
  • Are feedback, instructions and other guidance being delivered clearly, or is the process cumbersome and confusing?
  • Is there a good sense of community, connection and teamwork, or do team members seem isolated?

The answers to questions like this can help you determine what kinds of new solutions you should invest your time into considering. If your team communication is rundown or ineffective, try a messaging platform like Slack or an internal knowledge base software. If you’re struggling with delivering clear information remotely, try a video messaging platform like Loom. If you think your team could benefit from increasing their sense of community, try implementing some team building activities as outlined below.

4. Organize virtual social and team building activities

When considering a remote work business model, especially in the long term, it’s important to think about how you can foster community and company culture when everything is being done online.

With a little bit of thought and creativity, there are tons of different options in terms of virtual bonding and team building activities that you can try out. Bonding activities will keep your team feeling motivated, increase their sense of belonging and even foster accountability to their fellow colleagues. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Exercise or fitness challenges: Organize virtual workout classes for your team to participate in. You can also put together a 30-day fitness challenge so that employees can get their workouts in individually but share their progress with their colleagues.
  • Book a guest speaker: If there’s a specific topic that your team has expressed interest in learning more about (it could be anything from professional skills to personal finances to self-motivation and beyond) consider filling out a speaker contract template, booking a guest speaker and organizing a virtual seminar for your team. Bonus points if you organize an informal meeting for employees to discuss what they learned afterwards.
  • Play online games: The options are limitless here, but some popular options include scavenger hunts, trivia, bingo, pictionary and cards against humanity.
  • Organize an online book (or TV show) club: If you’ve got readers on your team, choose a book to read each month and organize informal meetings to discuss it. If books aren’t their thing, organize something similar with a popular TV show or movie.
  • Regular virtual coffee breaks: Without those informal catch-ups and conversations your employees are used to in an office environment, it’s easy to feel lonely and siloed as a remote worker. Luckily, it’s easy to recreate this – starting the morning, marking the afternoon or capping the day with an informal coffee break can help staff feel recognized and bring back a sense of camaraderie.

5. Integrate employee rewards

Last but not least, surprising your remote team with little rewards here and there can do wonders to communicate appreciation and boost morale. You don’t have to do anything over the top, but there are lots of little gestures you can make that are remote-work-friendly.

Whether you want to reward specific team members for going above and beyond on a recent project, or show appreciation for an entire team’s effort, consider rewarding people with any of the following:

  • Company merch
  • E-gift cards
  • Ordering a meal or a treat
  • Plant or flower delivery
  • A small pay check bonus

And if you’re low on funds in your budget but still want to show recognition:

  • A day or an afternoon off
  • Sending a cart or a personalized video
  • Recognizing efforts publicly
  • Additional vacation and/or personal days

Get that motivation going

Remote work models are certainly here to stay, and that’s music to our ears. So why not invest a little bit of time into making your remote team as productive, connected and motivated as possible?

Get started by determining which of these tips align best with your team and trying it out. You and your staff will be feeling motivated and ready to hit all your professional goals in no time.

Ray Slater Berry

Content Lead at Outreach Humans


Ray Slater Berry is the content lead at Outreach Humans. He has been working in social media, content marketing, and SEO for nine years. He specializes in the tech, innovation, design, and product sectors. He is also a published psychological thriller author with his first novel, Golden Boy.


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