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How to Motivate Remote Employees

How to Motivate Remote Employees
August 4, 2020

In this article

There’s been a major change in our lives both personally and professionally (and the Understatement of the Year Award goes to…). While a large majority of teams are still working remotely, it’s crucial for leadership to maintain a team that’s motivated and inspired to work efficiently, despite their lives being flipped upside down. 

But your life isn’t exactly even-keeled right now either, correct? Don’t worry. We’ve got you. 


No one’s just a cubicle away any longer, but it’s no excuse to ghost anyone. If you’re expecting the same level of work in your employees, then you should show the same level of respect in return by continuing (or dare we suggest, heightening?) your level of availability.

Employees may still be getting in the hang of working more independently, or new hires with a million and one questions may be feeling lost and overwhelmed. A crucial component in maintaining a motivated team is to never let them feel neglected. Making yourself available and providing timely responses and feedback acts as a reminder to staff that you still care about their work and its quality. 

Team members will become more motivated to not only complete their tasks, but to go the extra mile; they’ll recognize their efforts are just as valued by leadership as when you all shared a common space, creating an increased sense of worth and drive.

💡 Top Tools to Help Manage Your Remote Team


While many companies had previously upheld policies against working from home, fearful that productivity and performance would deteriorate, they quickly had no choice but to hastily change their tune. Turns out, however, in most cases, executives were proven wrong in their biggest fear.

Employees managed to not only prove themselves to be fully capable of completing their work, but according to the Harvard Business Review, experienced a 10% improvement in efficiency.

Moral of the story? Leaders, trust your employees. When ample trust is placed in them and their work, you’ll find they become more driven and productive. They’ll work harder, try inventive and creative methods to complete tasks that are more difficult when done offsite, and experience heightened motivation to prove your trust is justified.

Think about it this way: whether a new worker was trusted enough in their abilities to be hired in the first place, or a veteran employee has displayed successful work for years, the change in work environment should not sway that opinion of them. You owe it to them to keep the trust alive, having faith that no matter where they’re working from, they will still thrive. 


The most seemingly obvious (yet seemingly most difficult to achieve) is maintaining company culture and making people feel as if they’re part of a larger team effort. Encourage a sense of camaraderie between the entire company; all teams, all employees.

Try having weekly Zoom meetings unrelated to work. A Happy Hour to celebrate the end of the week or a company win, or maybe just a simple, quick 30-minute check-in and hello so teams are able to see the friends they’ve made in the office that they didn’t necessarily work directly with. Keep those ties connected!

Incentivize staff by rewarding them for demonstrating a rise in productivity or meeting team performance goals. Team-wide rewards influence individuals on a personal level, motivating hard work for not only their teams, but themselves.  Consider using swag as a reward system, or visit Fringe where you can reward employees with points they can later use on the Fringe platform to cash in for some seriously cool fringe benefits. Employees can select from a range of gift cards we promise they will love. Fringe perks range from Headspace App, Netflix, and even child care services! Companies like sent all their employees a surprise & delight pack that went viral on Linkedin. Sending employees a thoughtful gift goes a long way in feeling appreciated. 


Technology often gives us the feeling that we must always be available, and since the lockdown, the Harvard Business Review reports that workdays are now 10%-20% longer than before. All this does is result in burnout -- i.e., the absolute opposite feeling of motivation. 

Be an advocate for unplugging and encourage employees to set specific lunch hours and stop times to reduce their chances of overdoing it. Also, be sure to support their spending time with family and continuing preferred methods of self-care. When they feel better, they’ll be more motivated to work harder.


There’s no sense in pretending like everything is business as usual, because… well, it’s not. It’s unnecessary to make employees feel as if they must pretend to be in the office because… well, they’re not. 

They’re home, away from their teammates and usual routine. We’ve all got our own “New Normal”, and supporting your employees through their individual hardships will help to lessen the sense of loneliness or isolation that they may be feeling. 

Show authentic empathy and understanding, reassuring them that the changes they’ve made in order to make work possible is greatly appreciated and respected by leadership.

Even something as simple as a relaxed take on video call etiquette can help ease stress and magnify the motivation to complete tasks. Employees can focus on their work, rather than have any concern or anxiety about your next Zoom meeting.

Show that previously-taboo practices are now A-OK:

  • They have no need to feel embarrassment or fear any repercussions if their child or pet makes a surprise appearance (to be honest, it can be the best ice breaker or mid-meeting break!).
  • Forget the fake Zoom background; don’t shame someone for working from their kitchen counter. If that’s where they needed to set up shop, then that’s just fine!
  • Workspace environments happen to be your pet peeve, and the above is impossible? Consider creating a custom company Zoom background for everyone on the team to use. That way, stress about their surroundings still goes out the window, and there can be a heightened sense of camaraderie and pride for your company when you’re all reppin’ the same background together.
  • If having their hair and makeup done makes them feel a sense of normalcy and helps them stay motivated, then kudos to those badass chicks. But don’t require professional attire from the whole crew, if you can help it. You want them to spend their time working, not getting dolled up to log onto a 30-minute call.


Employees still have the same basic needs; but with remote work, the strategy used by leadership to meet these needs requires a modified approach. It’s another bullet on the list of changes your company has had to make in response to lockdowns, but remember: your company is nothing without your employees. 

So move that bullet point to the top of the list. Bold it, circle it, highlight it. To keep employees motivated, they need to be made your Number 1 responsibility. Keep them motivated and feeling valued, and the rest will fall into place.

Looking for more ideas on how to motivate employees? 🚀

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