How to Motivate Remote Teams to Improve Performance

2023.03.20 01:05 PM By Joshua Taddeo, Principal Consultant

The work landscape is changing, and an increasing number of companies are embracing remote work setups. It's estimated that globally, 70% of employees telecommute at least once weekly. Despite this trend, there are still difficulties in motivating and managing remote teams. Companies must find ways to tackle daily business challenges while providing a productive and effective work environment for their remote employees. To meet this new challenge, companies must seek innovative solutions for motivating and managing their remote teams.

Why Is Employee Motivation Important?

Employee engagement in the workplace is crucial for a variety of reasons. When employees are invested in their work and feel valued, they tend to be more productive, efficient, and committed to achieving the goals of the organization. A positive work environment can also be fostered by encouraging open communication and actively seeking input from employees. This can improve job satisfaction and lead to a more motivated workforce. Additionally, engaged employees are less likely to experience burnout, leading to a lower turnover rate and reduced costs for the company.

Types of Motivation

Understanding the concept of motivation is crucial to boost your team's drive. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic, both of which can be found within a remote team. The key to motivation lies in helping your team members see how their work can help them achieve what they desire, whether personal fulfillment or a sense of importance.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is internally driven and occurs when someone finds an activity personally rewarding. According to the Job Characteristics Model, you can increase intrinsic motivation by focusing on these five aspects: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is focused on outcomes and is driven by rewards or avoiding punishments. For an external reward to be effective, the expectancy theory of motivation suggests that three elements must come into play: expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. However, these motivators only work if they are achievable. When a team member feels like their goals are unattainable or they lack trust in the rewards promised, they can become demotivated.
leader motivating team

10 Ways to Improve Team Performance

Despite the importance of team performance to a company's success, improving productivity and motivation can be difficult. However, creative solutions and a fresh perspective make it possible to elevate your team to new heights. We'll share the best unique methods, from gamification to promoting open communication, that can help drive success and enhance team performance.

Leverage Technology

Maximize the success of your teams by supplying them with the necessary technology. Teams operating remotely require solutions that enable effortless collaboration, document sharing, and effective communication. Establish clear rules for the usage of these tools to encourage effective teamwork. As each employee has a unique working style, it is crucial to minimize any potential conflicts within teams. By establishing guidelines, managers can prevent potential sources of disagreement.

Reward Team Performance

Effectively rewarding remote team performance is pivotal in nurturing motivation and engagement within the workforce. Personalized recognition, such as specific acknowledgments in team meetings or company-wide communications, directly addresses individual contributions, fostering a sense of value and appreciation. Complementing monetary bonuses and incentives with professional development opportunities, like online courses or virtual conferences, demonstrates an investment in employees' growth and motivates continuous improvement. Furthermore, flexible working arrangements, recognizing the importance of work-life balance, can serve as a powerful motivator, enhancing job satisfaction and productivity by allowing employees to tailor their work environment to their personal and professional needs.

Incorporating team celebrations and virtual events strengthens community bonds among remote workers, celebrating collective achievements and personal milestones to boost morale and promote a cohesive team dynamic. Tailoring rewards programs to offer a variety of choices, from gift cards to donations, ensures that rewards are meaningful and appreciated by each team member. This approach acknowledges diverse preferences and reinforces the personal connection between the organization and its employees, making the recognition more impactful.

Merging these strategies creates a comprehensive rewards system that addresses the multifaceted nature of motivation in a remote work setting. It not only highlights the achievements and contributions of individuals and teams but also aligns with the overarching goals of the organization to foster a positive, productive, and engaged workforce. By prioritizing personalized recognition, development opportunities, flexibility, and meaningful celebrations, companies can cultivate an environment where employees feel genuinely valued and motivated to excel.

Enhance Connections

For teams to perform optimally, they must feel connected not just among themselves but also with their manager or supervisor. The leader plays a crucial role in providing support, direction, and guidance to the team and setting an example to follow. If the manager makes an effort to develop strong relationships, the team members will likely do the same.

motivating remote employees

To foster a sense of connection when working remotely, prioritize face-to-face communication. Utilize video conferencing instead of phone calls, and encourage participation in group conversations over private messaging. This promotes a more connected and collaborative team environment.

Group Pomodoro Sessions

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that consists of working for 25 minutes continuously and taking a five-minute break. To enhance focus among remote teams, consider conducting group Pomodoro sessions. For example, you can add a designated #pomodoro channel on Slack, where your team leaders announce the start and end of each 25-minute work interval and five-minute break. Teammates can then respond with emojis, providing a sense of accountability and shared experience. Despite the physical distance, knowing that the entire team is participating in the challenge together can help remote workers stay focused and on task.

Online Employee of the Month

The Employee of the Month award is a classic method for motivating employees. This program showcases the company's commitment to recognizing its team members and celebrating their achievements. Each month, the company highlights an individual who has made exceptional contributions, demonstrated a positive attitude, shown teamwork, and gone above and beyond. While these awards are less common in virtual teams compared to traditional office settings, it's important to celebrate star employees in remote work environments, especially since the nature of remote work can make it more difficult for coworkers to see and acknowledge each other's efforts.


There are many ways to announce the Employee of the Month for a remote team. For instance, you could use an internal email, a company blog, a social media post, or an online awards ceremony. Additionally, you could enhance the recognition by offering special privileges, such as allowing the awardee to design a page on the company's website or choose a fun team perk.

Employee Monitoring Software

using software to manage teams

Working remotely can present challenges for maintaining productivity, as it requires a high degree of self-discipline and the absence of physical supervision. Distractions are prevalent, and the temptation to be less diligent in one's work can be difficult to resist. In order to mitigate these potential difficulties, the implementation of employee monitoring software can provide a structured work environment and ensure accountability.


Such software incorporates various functionalities, including random screenshot capturing, keyboard activity tracking, and automatic alerts, to monitor work processes and foster effective time management. Its purpose is not to catch employees in acts of idleness but to serve as a valuable tool to help maintain productivity.


Many platforms aim to assist employees in establishing effective work habits. The program recognizes and rewards continuous work efforts and provides guidance to redirect idle team members back to their tasks. Additionally, users can blacklist distracting websites, further promoting the focus on the task at hand.

Remote Metrics Dashboard

Employee motivation can be greatly enhanced through the utilization of performance-tracking boards. Displaying performance metrics in a public manner can encourage individuals to strive towards and exceed their set goals, as the notion of underperforming in front of peers can be a powerful motivator. Additionally, these boards can foster a spirit of friendly competition, which can drive individuals to raise the bar in their own performance. The visibility of performance metrics also allows for easier recognition and commendation of high-performing team members.

A scorecard can be created utilizing a spreadsheet platform such as Google Sheets to establish a remote performance tracking board. The scorecard should clearly list team members' names along one axis and tasks or categories along the other. Once the document is finalized, it should be shared with the entire team. Performance should be monitored over a defined time frame, such as a contest period, a month, or a quarter.

It is important to note that the objective of these performance tracking boards is not to shame underperformers but rather to collectively celebrate wins and identify areas for support and collaboration among team members.

Use Time Tracking Tools

For optimal remote team management, consider utilizing time-tracking tools such as Time Doctor. These tools provide a comprehensive view of how team members allocate their time, including the apps and websites they use and the frequency of their breaks. The reports enable comparison between employees and highlight any anomalies in their behavior that may be impacting their work performance.

If your company operates in the sales sector, consider incorporating cloud call center solutions. These allow sales personnel to make calls remotely while enabling real-time tracking of critical metrics such as call volume and average call duration.

By utilizing these technologies, managers can gain insight into why certain team members may not be meeting performance expectations. For example, it may be revealed that a team member is spending excessive time on social media rather than making sales calls. A clear understanding of effective time management practices can raise the standard for the entire team and drive better performance.

online collaboration tools

Establish Best Practices for Online Collaboration Tools

If your organization has already adopted digital collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, or Google Meetings, you may have assumed that the transition to a fully remote workforce would be effortless. However, relying solely on these tools is not a guarantee of success. It's crucial to provide training and establish guidelines for their utilization to optimize their use in a remote work environment. For instance, establish protocols for video conferences that encourage equal participation, and instruct your team on the appropriate use of mute and do-not-disturb functions in Slack.


In addition to these commonly used tools, there are other solutions that can enhance remote work and collaboration. Lattice is an HR tool that facilitates goal setting and personal development with quick, transparent feedback processes. Loom is a communication tool that enables easy screen recording with added commentary. For small businesses still utilizing spreadsheets to track customer interactions, consider upgrading to a CRM solution such as Salesmate, which integrates with popular software, or NetHunt, which operates within Gmail. Implementing these additional tools can further improve remote communication and collaboration within your team.

Give Your Employees Greater Autonomy

In a traditional office setting, managers often find success due to their physical proximity to their team. This allows them to engage in regular face-to-face interactions, check in on work progress, and address any concerns as they arise. However, managing a remote team presents a different set of challenges. The temptation to constantly communicate and check in on team members via messaging can lead to distractions and decreased focus.

team meeting to improve team performance

Adapting your management style by fostering a culture of trust and empowering your employees to take ownership of their work to overcome these challenges is necessary. This approach has led to greater job satisfaction, particularly among millennials, and ultimately higher productivity. Instead of micromanaging, establish clear goals, deadlines, and regular updates, and trust your team to successfully complete their work without constant supervision.

Motivated Employees Drive Business Success

Motivation is an essential aspect of driving performance and productivity in the workplace. From goal-setting to feedback mechanisms, managers play a critical role in creating a work environment that fosters motivation and empowers employees to do their best work. Companies that invest in their employees by providing the right tools, resources, and support can reap the rewards of a motivated, productive, and engaged workforce. By taking steps to understand the needs and motivations of each team member, leaders can create a positive work culture and drive better outcomes for both employees and the organization as a whole.