5 ways to motivate your remote employees

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Feb 15, 2024
To motivate remote employees effectively, it's crucial to foster open communication, equip them with the necessary tools, and promote continuous learning. These strategies help build a productive and engaged remote workforce, ensuring the success of distributed teams.
A group of diverse employees smiling and joining hands together in a gesture of unity and teamwork, symbolizing motivation and collaboration in a remote work setting.

Keeping remote teams motivated can be incredibly challenging.

But with the right strategies, you can boost engagement, productivity, and satisfaction for your distributed workforce.

In this post, we’ll explore 5 proven techniques to motivate your remote employees and equip them for success.

Let ‘s begin!

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize communication and trust to make remote employees feel connected and valued.
  • Equip remote teams with necessary tools and technology for efficient and effective work.
  • Encourage continuous learning and career development to keep remote employees engaged and motivated.
  • Use virtual team-building activities and regular check-ins to foster a sense of community and belonging among remote workers.

Introduction

A laptop screen displaying a video conference with nine smiling people in individual frames, indicating a virtual team meeting or remote work environment.

Engaging and motivating remote employees can be challenging for companies. 

With distributed teams working in silos, it’s easy for remote workers to feel disconnected from the organization and their colleagues. 

This often leads to lower productivity, poor work quality, and high turnover rates.

To boost remote employee motivation, companies need to prioritize communication, collaboration, and company culture across virtual teams. 

Small gestures like scheduling one-on-one meetings, sending motivational messages, and organizing online social events can make a big difference. 

Ultimately, the key is making remote employees feel valued, empowered, and integral parts of the team.

Understanding the Remote Workforce

A cheerful man with glasses working on a laptop in a bright room, possibly a cafe, with a coffee mug beside him, embodying a productive remote work setting.

Remote employees are professionals who work for a company primarily from home or a location outside the traditional company office. 

Remote work comes with unique challenges that can impact employee motivation if not properly addressed. 

These include lack of face-to-face interaction, communication barriers, feelings of isolation, and difficulties collaborating across time zones.

The Significance of Workplace Motivation

Studies show that over half of remote employees feel disengaged at work. 

Disengaged employees tend to have lower productivity, make more mistakes, and have higher turnover rates.

For a company with a remote workforce, poor employee motivation can significantly impact overall performance and profits. 

That’s why it’s critical for managers to master remote employee motivation techniques.

How do you motivate remote employees?

An overhead view of a person's hands typing on a laptop with a video call on the screen, showing four happy participants. The desk is also equipped with a desk lamp, headphones, a notepad, a potted plant, and glasses, representing a well-organized remote work setup.

Remote work provides flexibility but can also lead to feelings of isolation and disconnect for employees.

As a manager, keeping your remote team motivated is key. Here are some tips:

Provide the Necessary Tools

Make sure your remote employees have everything they need to do their jobs efficiently. 

This includes reliable technology as well as access to software, documents, and databases. 

If an employee is struggling with slow internet speeds or an outdated laptop, it will be difficult for them to stay motivated.

Build a Culture of Trust

When employees are working remotely, managers cannot physically oversee their work. In this scenario, building a culture founded on trust is vital. 

Set clear expectations and give employees the autonomy to manage their own workflows.

Check in regularly, but avoid micromanaging. Trust goes a long way in motivating remote teams.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

Recognize that managing a remote team requires learning new skills and strategies. 

Adopt a growth mindset, where challenges are viewed as opportunities to learn rather than failures. 

Experiment with different techniques and tools for communication and collaboration. 

Encourage Open Communication

With employees working in disparate locations, communication channels can easily break down.

Establish open pathways of communication through regular meetings, instant messaging, social media groups, make yourself available to provide guidance and feedback. 

How do I stay motivated in remote work?

A focused woman in glasses working at a desk with a laptop, papers, and a notebook in a room with a dark wall and potted plants, reflecting a serious and professional remote work environment.

Working remotely can be challenging when it comes to staying motivated and engaged with your work. 

Here are some tips to help you stay focused when working from home:

Create a dedicated workspace

Set up a comfortable yet professional workspace in your home. 

Having a dedicated area to work from can help separate your work and personal lives. Just make sure your workspace has good lighting and minimal distractions.

Get ready like you’re going into the office

Stick to your normal morning routine – shower, get dressed, eat breakfast. 

Maintaining workday habits can trigger a productive mindset.

Define your work hours

Structure your remote workday as you would in the office. Let colleagues know your availability so expectations are set. 

Take breaks and lunch at consistent times.

Check in with your team

Schedule video calls to connect face-to-face. Discuss projects, blockers, and goals with your manager regularly. 

Engage in watercooler chat to maintain rapport with coworkers.

Avoid multitasking

Focus on one task at a time. Silence notifications, close extra browser tabs, and avoid household chores during work hours. 

Multitasking severely impacts productivity.

Reward yourself

Use rewards to maintain motivation, some rewards or treats can be going for a walk outside, enjoying your favorite snack, or watching an episode of your favorite show. 

Implementing these tips can help you stay engaged and productive when working remotely. 

Engagement Techniques for Remote Employees

Four individual photos arranged in a 2x2 grid, each showing a smiling person engaged in a video call, with two waving to the camera, and all four wearing headphones. This image portrays a positive and connected remote work team.

Remote work can present challenges when it comes to building connections between employees. 

However, there are effective techniques managers can utilize to facilitate engagement and collaboration for distributed teams.

Implementing Virtual Team Building Activities

Online games and challenges are a great way to bring remote employees together. Some ideas include:

  • Virtual escape rooms – Work together to solve puzzles and “escape” the room.
  • Multiplayer video games – Play popular online games as a team.
  • Digital scavenger hunts – Search the web to find answers to fun trivia questions.
  • Remote cooking classes – Learn new recipes while bonding over food.
Organizing Periodic In-Person Gatherings

When possible, meeting up in person periodically can strengthen relationships for remote staff. Consider:

  • Company retreats – Hold multi-day events for employees to connect face-to-face through activities.
  • Local meetups – If based in the same region, gather for meals or recreational activities.
  • Conference attendance – Send remote teams to industry conferences to network and socialize.
Utilizing Collaborative Technologies Effectively

Digital tools like Slack, Miro and Gather provide ways for distributed groups to communicate and cooperate smoothly:

  • Chat apps like Slack facilitate casual conversations and community building.
  • Whiteboard tools like Miro enable visual collaboration during meetings.
  • Purpose-built apps like Gather mimic office interactions through video chat.

Leveraging the right collaborative tech can help bridge the physical gaps between remote employees to empower engagement.

Equipping Remote Employees with Essential Tools

Close-up of a person's hands typing on a laptop keyboard, with a cup of coffee and a notebook beside them on a wooden desk, suggesting a focused work-from-home setting.

Providing Necessary Hardware and Equipment

To enable remote employees to perform effectively, companies should provide key hardware like laptops, monitors, headsets, and ergonomic equipment based on each employee’s role.

Having the proper tools fosters productivity and engagement. 

Companies can offer stipends or expense reimbursements to equip staff with what they need within budget guardrails.

Adopting Robust Collaboration Platforms

Outfitting remote teams with SaaS tools for communication, project management, document sharing and more creates connection points to align efforts. 

Platforms like Slack, Asana, Dropbox, Zoom and Google Workspace facilitate seamless collaboration regardless of location. 

Proper licensing and access should be granted to provide the foundation for cooperation.

Ensuring Secure and Reliable Network Access

Given the risks of distributed environments, securing networks with VPNs and endpoint protection must be a priority. 

Policies to maintain confidentiality of company data should be put in place. 

Moreover, reliable high-speed internet access enables staff to reliably perform duties without disruption. 

Checks on connectivity strength may be needed to confirm remote working conditions.

Clarifying Expectations for Remote Workers

Remote work arrangements can present unique challenges when it comes to setting clear expectations around job responsibilities, objectives, and policies. 

However, taking the time to explicitly outline duties, goals, and guidelines for virtual employees is crucial for engagement, productivity, and alignment.

Establishing Documented Job Responsibilities

Creating responsibility assignment matrices (RAMs) can help delineate roles and duties for remote staff. 

RAMs outline all major functions and tasks required for a role and detail who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed for each. 

This creates transparency around responsibilities and ensures accountability is assigned for all critical activities.

Maintaining Visibility of OKRs and Goals

Objectives and key results (OKRs) should be tracked transparently to maintain visibility into progress for remote teams. 

OKRs enable staff to see how their work ladders up to broader company goals and gives managers clear insights into achievement against targets.

Virtual tools like dashboards, reports, and real-time progress bars can make OKR tracking interactive for remote workers. 

Celebrating wins and discussing opportunities related to OKRs in meetings also helps sustain engagement.

Setting Explicit Communication Guidelines

Explicit policies around availability, response times, and meetings provide consistency for hybrid and remote staff. 

For example, guidelines could specify that employees should respond to messages within 24 hours and be available during a minimum 2-hour overlap with on-site staff daily.

Expectations around meeting prep, cameras on, and post-meeting action items should also be established. 

Adhering to structured communication norms and cadences prevents misaligned assumptions around accessibility and visibility for virtual employees.

Advancing Career Growth for Remote Employees

A man in a stair symbolizing career growth

Remote work arrangements provide flexibility and work-life balance for employees. 

However, managers should ensure remote staff have ample opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers despite the distance.

Offering Skills Training and Development Programs
  • Consider providing a stipend or reimbursement program to cover the costs of relevant skills courses or certifications. This allows remote employees to pursue continuing education and professional development goals on their own terms.
  • Maintain an updated online resource hub listing free or paid digital training courses in areas like management, communication, time management, etc. Encourage remote teams to regularly enroll in courses relevant to their roles.
  • Schedule occasional “Training Day” events where the entire remote team takes the same day to complete an assigned development course. This facilitates shared learning and discussions.
Charting Documented Promotion Paths
  • Create clear job families showing junior to senior progression paths in each department. Outline the key skills and experience needed to earn promotions.
  • Set up annual reviews for all remote staff to discuss career goals and identify strengths to build on and development areas to work on to prepare for advancement.
  • Publicly recognize remote employees who earn promotions in company meetings or newsletters. This motivates other remote staff to aspire towards career growth.
Assigning Challenging and Growth-Oriented Tasks
  • When planning projects, assign remote staff stretch assignments and leadership roles that exercise skills beyond their comfort zones, while providing support.
  • Allow interested remote employees to job shadow more senior remote colleagues to learn higher-level skills.
  • Encourage managers to delegate tasks and decisions typically reserved for themselves to fast-tracking remote employees to build leadership experience.

Conclusion

A group of five diverse people in a bright office setting giving a high-five together, signifying teamwork, success, and collaboration.

Recap the key strategies covered for enhancing remote employee engagement and summarize the business benefits.

To summarize, here are 5 effective ways to motivate your remote employees:

  1. Foster open communication through regular check-ins. Have weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, provide feedback, and address any concerns. This builds trust and keeps employees engaged.
  2. Recognize achievements with praise or small rewards. A simple “thank you” or gift card goes a long way in making employees feel valued.
  3. Encourage social connections through virtual events. Host online social hours, games, or activities so employees can bond. This promotes team cohesion.
  4. Set clear objectives and give employees autonomy. Provide the end goal but allow flexibility in how it’s achieved. This empowers employees.
  5. Measure engagement levels regularly with surveys. Ask for anonymous feedback on what’s working well and what needs improvement. Then respond accordingly.

Implementing strategies focused on communication, recognition, collaboration, empowerment and feedback helps significantly boost remote employee motivation and workplace engagement. 

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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