Businesses can’t be successful without the right team. However, once teams shift to working remotely we’ve seen that even high performing teams can begin to falter. Something that often gets overlooked is motivating employees after the initial remote on-boarding. Team motivation must be ongoing. And you need a stronger focus than before on the social components supporting collaboration. This blog post covers some methods we use to ensure our team stays motivated for the long term.

  • 1. Communicate frequently and offer positive feedback

    If you’ve been reading our previous blogs on remote-management you may start to notice a theme here – communication. Great, consistent communication is the key to successfully managing a remote workforce and implementing a culture of strong communication is the best first step you can make to motivate your team members.

    Good communication enables all the information about projects, tasks, and processes to be available to all team members, which makes it easy for them to complete tasks. There’s no ambiguity, all the details are available at all times, and it’s just about putting in the work.

  • 2. One-on-ones As An Opportunity For Growth

    Boredom is the enemy. When working remotely you are constantly battling for your teams focus and attention. This is why it’s key to make sure that your employees are constantly growing and advancing. The brain is an information machine. We crave new input and stimulus. By constantly providing them with new opportunities you are constantly giving the brain novel and engaging tasks to process.

    A solution is to implement ongoing reviews of employees’ growth within the company in a monthly one-on-one session, kind of an informal performance review and check-in. Here is an outline of some important questions we try and ask as part of our one-on-one’s:

  • What would they like to get better at this month?

    • This helps you gain a better understanding of where you can help stimulate them.
  • What are they doing better at this month?

    • This helps you understand their progress and helps you understand the path they are on.
  • What achievement are they most proud of this month?

    • This helps you understand what motivates them.
  • What was their worst moment this month?

    • This helps you identify tasks that are draining and that you should try to minimize.
  • 3. Gamify incentives

    If you’ve been following our earlier blog posts you know that you need to monitor your KPIs or OKRs to ensure your teams stay productive. However, constantly chasing mindless numbers can lose its appeal after a while – even for the most competitive of employees. One solution we can recommend is gamifying them. By this we mean not only offering praise but also providing team members with cash incentives, amazon gift cards and similar. Here are some steps we followed when implementing our program:

  • Identify the values that you wish to reward.
  • Implement a structure of how people get selected for rewards. We decided to have the team vote every month.
  • What criteria will you use to avoid favoritism or subjectivity in the employee recognition program, can a reward be earned more than once? Nothing can demotivate a team faster than feeling like they are playing a rigged game.
  • Decide on the type of reward. Is it a gift card, a trophy or a cash bonus? The gift itself is not as important, just make sure it aligns with your key principles.
  • 4. Make it a team sport

    Focusing only on individual development plans can isolate us and give us time frames that demotivate. Leaders can take a different approach with professional development as a team sport. They should also run a monthly team huddle to talk about professional development. Each month we have a retrospective where we together as a team look over what we liked, learned and lacked. We do this via video conferencing and a tool called FunRetro. The trick is to avoid a long drawn out discussion and avoid team members listing lots of different activities, but rather quickly moving through them.

  • 5. Focus on the strengths, rather than trying to develop flaws

    The monthly retro should try and focus on strengths and success stories. There’s a reason for that. The ideal praise-to-criticism-ratio is 5-to-1. All too often development becomes about identifying our weaknesses and attempting to work on them. Focusing on strengths is a more effective strategy – it builds everyone’s confidence and overall increases team morale.

Who are MATES?

MATES Inc is a marketing agency that specialises in delivering amazing customer experiences for the sports and retail sector.

Looking for help with your remote team during this crisis?


We believe that as a business community we need to stick together now more than ever. So if you’re a manager or executive that’s feeling ill prepared for this transition to remote working and would like some friendly advice from a team that’s made the leap already please feel free to reach out for a free chat.