12 Ways To Motivate Remote Working Teams

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REMOTE WORKSHOPS – It can be done. Here’s how.

Sign up to the ADAPTOVATE monthly newsletter featuring insights and original content on all things Agile. We promise we wont spam you!

Note: we are not affiliated with any of the tools mentioned below.  This is just how we have learned from experience the tools we know and can recommend.  There are a lot more out there, so you can take our suggestions or find what works for you.


As Steve Walton from our Australian office says

“Adaptability and ingenuity in remote working is part of the ADAPTOVATE DNA.”

We acknowledge there is a flood of information out there on remote working currently.

However, we wanted to drill down and look at how you actually run a workshop when you are all at home in your office!  Your workshops can continue.

ADAPTOVATE has extensive experience in setting-up of remote teams and facilitating remote sessions. We have proven many times over that remote sessions, if done right, can be as effective (or more!) as physical ones.

Remote Workshops are an important mechanism to accelerate learning.

Companies we help are seeing an increase in their training ROI, because we tailor the workshop learning objectives to target specific learning profiles within their organization.

We also tie these objectives to key results the organization is seeking to achieve. There is no one size fits all approach to training.

Catering to the remote learning profiles to sustain learning and self-discovery is a huge differentiator for companies doing vs being agile, and actually applying the principles of business agility.


Here’s our plug – we can’t stress this enough – this is not about commercialising the COVID-19 virus.  ADAPTOVATE are genuinely seeing a need for teams and business requiring assistance with remote business.   We are here to help you and have people in Australia, North America, Europe and Asia, who can jump on a call or video now to get you up and running with remote working in your time zone.

Fiona Royall, a senior consultant in Australia explains “We are experienced with working with distributed teams so have vast experience in setting up teams for success. We help teams create norms, establish ways of working, facilitate workshops, meetings and conduct training virtually.

We’re knowledgeable about methods, practices and digital tools that can enhance how workshops are run and our people have deep skills and knowledge of facilitating workshops remotely.” Fiona says.

Below we’ve outlined a way to get up to speed VERY QUICKLY with conducting remote workshops successfully.

In fact, the irony – you may be workshopping already via remote means, ‘how to work remotely’.   We are in difficult times!

It can be overwhelming.   But you can start with these two principles.   Work on how you are going to get each of these right – and you will find everything does fall into place more smoothly.

Download our free poster for your home office wall
Download our free poster for your home office wall





The key here is maximizing the key factors critical for workshops – presence and team collaboration.


Presence requires 3 critical things:  Tools and Rules of Engagement and the right Facilitation method.


  1. TOOLS. – In our 24-page guide (download here for free) we go over more thoroughly the tools you can use.

Presence can be maximized with the use of a video conferencing tool and making sure proper rules of engagement are in place.

Brooke Pannell, a consultant from our US office says “Good tools for collaboration are key for remote workshops and meetings. At minimum, a company will need a good conferencing platform for audio and visual, and the ability to whiteboard during meetings. The best tool allows multiple people to collaborate and edit at the same time, so everyone is involved and engaged.”



  1. Camera on
  2. Mic on
  3. Mute if not speaking
  4. Signalling the need to speak
  5. Introducing yourself when speaking
  6. Ensure that both your facilitating company and clients have tested the online collaboration tool so that connectivity issues are fixed prior to the workshop
  7. Login to the call 5mins early to avoid a delayed start
  8. Use chat functionality as a holding bay for questions and ask the Facilitator to answer them


BONUS tip #1 Set clear workshop/session objectives

Kayla Cartwright from our US offices recommends “Have aligned assessments and tell participants how their learning will be assessed. Incorporate frequent checks for understanding and pauses for written synthesis of key section takeaways to ensure learners are actually thinking and learning.”



    Enhance your facilitation technique. Our Managing Director in the US Nathan Nelson says

    1. Take regular pauses and check for understanding.
    2. Make sure to engage each team member.
    3. Spend more time at the beginning making sure everyone understands objectives and outcomes.

Slawek Koziol from our Europe office suggests:  – “Having a co-facilitator monitor the videoconferencing tool for visual cues, chat and other signals can help maximize presence. “

Andy Koh from our Asian office agrees: “Taking note of ‘quiet’ participants and calling them out to answer questions makes a large impact on perceived ‘presence’ during workshops. Prompting and guiding conversations also serve to make people feel involved.”



Team collaboration can be maximized from the very beginning by these three things:

  1. Making sure participants receive relevant information and materials beforehand so that precious team time is not wasted updating everyone and making sure everyone is familiar with videoconferencing software.
  2. Online collaboration can be supported with simple web-based tools (like Miro or Trello) – these allow even for large groups of people to collaborate effectively in real time, sketching and arranging ideas on virtual post-its or moving and updating virtual task cards. (See our free guide for more information on these).
  3. Ensure regular interactions. Help design activities that require interactions during the workshop Workshops are all about learning and applying immediately. At ADAPTOVATE, we conduct workshops that ensure interaction between participants at regular intervals, even if they are conducted remotely.


BONUS TIP #3: INTERACTING: Andy Koh from our Singapore office suggests:

“One such example is the story mapping activity we conduct. During this online activity, we use instant collaboration tools like Miro to ask participants to all contribute remotely every 10 minutes or so. This keeps participants engaged and ‘present’. A similar effect can be achieved using online polling tools like Mentimeter.”


A LIST OF THE TOOLS useful for remote workshops:

Google Meet
Microsoft Teams

Google Drive


REMINDER:  ADAPTOVATE have developed a 24-page free guide to help you make REMOTE WORKING SUCCESSFUL.  Head over here to download.

We’d like to thank the following ADAPTOVATORS for helping with the above article:
Kayla Cartwright, Ted Tomoyasu, Anthony Librizzi, Rachna Verma, Brook Pannell, Steve Walton, Benny Ko,  Nate Nelson, Fiona Royall, Mina Gurgis,  Andy Koh and Slawek Koziol.

The Back Story – Qiu Lu

Background Image
Qui Lu during one her trail runs

Our Monthly interview with one of the ADAPTOVATE team. Each month we ask one of our team from around the world to answer a few questions. While not in the same league as The Proust Questionnaire – we think it’s a great way to share our stories with you.


This month we sat down with Qiu Lu, who is an Associate with ADAPTOVATE in Singapore.

  1. First up – how long have you worked with us?

7 months now.

  1. Why did you join us? Were you in the industry previously, or looking for a new career direction?

I graduated in July 2019 and this is my first full-time job. I came across the job ad during my last semester and the word “Agile” and “Consulting” caught my eyes. I’m always interested in doing consulting work and I’ve just finished my degree thesis on Agile efficiency. Thus, the job description was naturally appealing, not to mention that I would have plenty of opportunities to travel. I went on and apply for it.

Following that, each step in the interview process re-assured me that applying for this company was a good decision. I genuinely felt that every Adaptovator I have met along the interview process was sincere, engaging and knowledgeable, yet each interview did become an invaluable learning experience for me.

With that, the exciting journey has begun.

  1. How has your previous experience and career helped define where you are now? Would you have done things differently?

My academic background in system engineering and management has steered my interest towards operational efficiency and I believe that the concept of Agile marries process management with the human touch.

During my 3-month consulting project with a technology team in a leading global mining company, I observed how and why effectiveness of Agile transformation is limited in large organisations. My exposure to Agile and consulting in this project has shaped my vision on what to do in my career.

  1. How do you balance your work life with your ‘real’ life – Do you have a good balance and how important is it to you?

It really depends on how you define work-life balance. I’m fortunate enough to work around people that share similar interests. The distinction between work and life blurs out when colleagues become friends and we support each other’s personal goals and interests.

Yet I think that the key to so-call work-life balance is all about time management and self-discipline. The allocation of time and attention between work and personal life would naturally come into place once the prioritization has been  done right.

  1. With so many of our team remote working, we always like to ask how do you have your home office/desk set up? Organised or chaos? Any top tips?

During my remote working period, I would say that half of the time I’m “working from a Café near home”. This has become my habit since college, where I’ve found studying in Café far more productive than in the library/ hostel. I guess it might have attributed to my constant craving for coffee and/or food and a suitable level of noise actually helps me concentrate.

When I’m working from home, my work station set-up is somewhere in between organised and chaos. I’ll always have a large cup of coffee ready. Besides, I do enjoy working at home while my cat is taking a nap on the chair next to me.

  1. Do you play music during your Agile workshops with clients? What do you recommend on your latest playlist?

To be honest I haven’t had the opportunity to lead a workshop yet but I’ve seen my colleagues playing music at workshops!

It would take some effort to craft the playlist to fit the context as my usual music is either too soft or too heavy for workshops. Nonetheless, Charles, our MD in Singapore office has recently shared with us his list of alternative music by Arlo Parks and Clairo. The music is surprisingly AWESOME, will I’ll definitely get some inspiration from that.

  1. How do you think technology has best helped humanity and do you have any concerns about our future?

I think the aspect which technology has best helped humanity is the advancement of medical science. There’re numerous examples of how technology like nanomedicine and surgical robotics help to relieve human suffering.

However, I always worry that we, as mankind are not yet equipped with adequate discipline in harnessing technologies. In the most practical aspect, our habitual reliance, or addiction to digital devices and social media platforms has resulted in repercussions such as privacy violation, cybersecurity and emerging psychological issues related to misuse and overuse of technology.

  1. Strategic Foresight allows companies to detect changes early and ensure action is taken quickly. Which companies have you seen able to change and adapt quickly? (and hopefully using Agile methods to do so)

My favourite example would be Netflix, considering the frequency that I’ve been using the platform and the convenience it provides in streaming a huge collection of movies and TV series. Starting as a DVD-by-mail service provider, the responsiveness and adaptability in the constantly changing business and technological environment has enabled Netflix to ride on the wave of digitalisation and become the leading streaming service provider which has gained torrid growth through winning proprietary content.

  1. What does success mean to you personally?

To be self-sufficient and have the discipline and perseverance to achieve my goals in life.

  1. Finally – You’ve time travelled back to your 10- year old self – What advice would you give?

Be it happiness or suffering, whatever you are going through now or in the near future will eventually lead you to be the person you want to be.

7 things your organization can do now to accelerate gender equality in the work place.


You would have had to be living under a rock not to have International Women’s Day stories coming at you for the past week. (ADAPTOVATE included.)  That’s a good thing.  While ADAPTOVATE support equality every day, we all need a push or a reminder every now and then.  We could do better.

Even as the content was produced within our own company – it worked as a reminder as to why we were doing it.    The behind the scenes content creation was as important to all of us, as the sharing of the content to our social channels.   It started conversation, it reminded us to pause and reflect on our own work practices.

If similar discussions or thinking have happened for you in the past week – there may be some observations that your gender equality is perhaps not where it should be.   You may want to do better , but not sure where to start. Of course,  it needs to be authentic.   Ticking boxes just doesn’t cut it.   However small steps will get you closer than you are now.


Mark Barber, a project lead in Australia says “Firstly, admit the problem exists. It is much easier to move forward if we are aligned on the problem of gender inequality and how it impacts culture and engagement.

“Once you have this, you can bring people together to solve the problem as a whole organisation, rather than attempting to fix with top down change, or waiting for bottom up organic change to have an impact.” Mark says.

So can we suggest this.  Start today.  Start this week.

Through our own experience and observation working with our global clients, we wanted to share with you what we’ve learned.

As consultants in Agile methodology – and introducing new ways of working – we are essentially a fly on the wall in many different organisations and cultures – we are in the somewhat privileged position of seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Starting at the home front –  ADAPTOVATE.  We heard from our co-founder Paul McNamara:

“Gender equality starts at the front of an organisation. In recruiting, I sponsor ADAPTOVATE recruiting team and am passionate about trying to make sure we attract a diverse set of candidates.” Paul says.

“This involves changing how we review resumes, score candidates in interviews, have discussions on how people went, etc. we need to have good challenging discussions to ensure our unconscious biases are not influencing our decisions.” He explained.

So here they are:

7 things your organization can do now to accelerate gender equality in the work place.


“Don’t be afraid to hire part time working mums!” says Mina Guris, a senior consultant in Australia.  “We do here at ADAPTOVATE and it’s working brilliantly. We have experienced project leads, consultants, and support team members all delivering amazing work.”

Importantly, you need to have the right support structure’s in place.  Everything from a strong parental leave programme to personal leave opportunities, to flexible working opportunities, work from home encouragement.

As the recruiter Greg Tadman (a HR director at PageGroup) says “Companies that offer programs and initiatives that help support their female workforce also experience a large number of other benefits, such as increased employee loyalty, higher engagement,  attraction and retention  of high calibre female employees. By extending these programs, particularly flexible working arrangements, to all workers, companies can further support families and by extension women in the workforce.”


Nate Stickney – as senior consultant in Singapore says “As coaches, our job is to ensure every voice that has something to say is heard.”

He explains “This means thinking carefully about how we structure our work for inclusiveness, forming relationships that help create psychological safety, and helping individuals grow and emerge as leaders.”

In fact Google, believe that psychological safety is the number 1 dynamic needed that sets successful teams apart from others.  They say “Individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.”

Ray Freeman, a senior consultant in the US says “To accelerate gender equality in the workplace, organizations should place a high value on organizational culture — Create a focus on self-awareness and build environments of psychological safety.

Some organizations are oblivious to the negative impacts of gender inequality. Raising consciousness is paramount accelerating progress.” Ray suggests.

5 ELEMENTS OF TOP TEAMS AT GOOGLE. Courtesy of https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/five-keys-to-a-successful-google-team/


Simmy Li – our Chief Talent Scout for ADAPTOVATE globally believes Potty Parity is an important consideration.  The Guardian recently wrote “In a survey, 59% of women say they regularly stand in line for the loo, compared with 11% of men – the result of gender bias in architecture and design, plus a dose of prejudice and taboo”

We’re not kidding.  Potty Parity may be a trivialised nickname, however it’s an important issue. It’s an important discussion, and one leaders don’t like to have. It’s awkward.   But to spell it out simply, women have more obstacles, more clothes, more doors to open and close.  Than men.

Potty Parity is essentially ensuring equal wait times for both men and women in public toilet lines.    The most obvious answer being to have more women’s toilets.

The potty parity movement began in LA and it’s now thirty years since legislation was introduced to guarantee the state’s women’s more toilets in public areas. (like theatres, business, schools).

There is a strong argument too, for more gender-neutral restrooms in your business.  Read a thoughtful piece about that here.


It seems a bit obvious – however it’s still one thing we see come up regularly with our clients.  The unequal pay levels for the same role, different gender.    It should go without saying – however – Pay those doing the same job the same amount regardless of their gender.

Start today.  Do an audit of your immediate team and check the numbers.  Roll it out.  Start a conversation with your HR department.


According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, companies understand well that disruption is creating the burning platform for advancing their diversity and inclusion agenda.

M Anthony Librizzi, a Project Lead in our US office for ADAPTOVATE says “It has long been recognized that diversity drives culture, innovation and morale toward achieving business outcomes.

“Yet, a measly 12% of companies measure pay and promotion inequalities between men and women. Of these companies, only 4% deploy modeling techniques to acutely address this gap. This proves there is a big opportunity for companies to use workforce analytics to accelerate gender equality.” Anthony explains.

Using workforce anayltics force companies to mitigate long term affects of pay inequalities and resolve the increasing risk for women to experience post retirement poverty and financial insecurity.


Mark Barber said earlier that admitting there is a problem is key.   Next he believes is transparency .  He says “make it known you are addressed gender equality and socialise the initiatives you are running to address it.

This opens the door for feedback and input from key stakeholders.


For practical ways to address gender equality it helps to look at the problem with two lenses – firstly, what are we doing to make our team as gender diverse as possible, and secondly, what are we doing to promote an inclusive culture.

To improve diversity we need to look at our recruitment pipeline.

Are we making our processes as inclusive as possible? Mark asks “Are we removing as many biases as we can? Consider things like anonymising resumes to hide gender and iterating on job descriptions, such as making them less about technical skills and more about desired behaviours to encourage different people to apply. “

If you make your pipeline more diverse and your recruitment process more inclusive it will lead to a more gender balanced team.

Rachna Verma, a consultant in Australia agrees. She provides these quick tips you can do now:

  1. Employers should remove any questions on gender from job application forms.
  2. Employers should immediately remove any gender related pay grades and move to paying a grade a set amount regardless of gender


Finally we’ll leave you with this comment from Rachna.

“As a woman, never be afraid to have a seat at the table at meetings. You should not be sitting on the outskirts of a meeting room. Be present, show up and be engaged.” Click To Tweet


The Editor would like to thank the amazing team members from ADAPTOVATE that contributed to this story:

Rachna Verma
Simmy Li
Paul McNamara
Mark Barber
Ray Freeman
Mina Gurgis
Nate Stickney
M Anthony Librizzi

What do these women have in common? Diana Nyad, JK Rowling, Katherine Johnson, Yalda Hakim, Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman

To celebrate INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY on March 8, it’s important to think about the women who have inspired us along the way, and share that inspiration.  The trailblazers who have paved the way towards improved equality for women around the world.   #eachforequal

So we asked some of our ADAPTOVATE team this question:

If you could have a conversation with a woman (past or present) who has inspired you – who would it be and why?

Mina Gurgis, Senior Consultant – Sydney :  “I am inspired by working mums. They have extraordinary skill of prioritising work and commitment to delivering what they sign up for even though they are always time poor. When I was studying my MBA, I had many group assignments with students from different backgrounds (some working professionals and some full time students). Whenever we had one in a team, we knew we could trust her to deliver the best quality of work and run the most efficient meetings.”

Amanda Rennie, Office Manager – Sydney: “The woman I would choose to have a conversation with is JK Rowling. She’s created a story with worldwide appeal, which has spun off into films, a play and theme-parks. The way she writes and language she uses is both clever and appealing across all-ages. She’s a self-made billionaire who famously lost her billionaire status due to the amount she’s given away to charity. I think she’d be a highly entertaining conversationalist with lots to say on the world around her PLUS her “clap-backs” to Twitter trolls are amazing.”

Caitilin Studdert, Principal – Sydney: “Diana Nyad – you describe the concept of ‘find a way’ when you hit obstacles – tell me how you so consistently pick yourself up when your first attempt fails as a ‘first’ attempt often fails in business”

Rachna Verma, Consultant – Sydney: “Yalda Hakim – your career as a journalist has taken you to countries where female empowerment is much lower on the national agenda. Based on your travels and observations, how have you helped to lift female empowerment and what benefits have you seen come from this?”

Paul McNamara, Co-Founder – Sydney: “Katherine Johnson – the NASA scientist who passed recently. She is an inspiration for the STEM areas, and some of the issues are still relevant today. Inspiration for all.”

Simmy Li, Chief Talent Scout – Singapore:  “Get a translator to interview Joan of Arc, to ask ‘What make you unstoppable?” When I was a kid, reading St Joan story book, she ‘grilled’ in my mind immediately. Why is this girl is so brave? How can she make it? Is she a real super hero? I love her. She seems to have no fear for anything. It’s cool!”

Nate Stickney, Senior Consultant – Singapore: “Harriett Tubman is an American icon for helping rescue folks from slavery, and work towards its abolition. Given the racial context of the work she did, people often overlook that she was a political activist in a society where women didn’t yet have the right to vote. Her leadership and grit in the face of adversity is astounding, and would lead to a fascinating conversation.”


Support #IWD this March 8.   Visit www.internationalwomensday.com to find out how.