Insights for Executives

How to Motivate Remote Employees

Cedric Jackson

April 07, 2021

One of the many roles of an employer is to keep employees motivated. Motivated employees are more productive. This boosts your bottom line. Employee motivation is hard enough in an office setting. It gets harder with remote work. 

Why It Is a Challenge 

Remote employees look at a screen all day long. Few have any face-to-face interaction. This makes it harder to stay motivated. Staring at a screen can become boring. 

Some remote employees may also be less motivated without others nearby. They may feel less pressure to work, reducing the motivation. 

Some of the methods to motivate remote employees are similar to those for motivating in-person employees. Others are unique. 

Asynchronous Helps

Boost motivation for remote employees by making the workplace asynchronous. This can reduce the pressure to be on a call. Working asynchronously also relieves pressure by letting employees work at the time that they will be most motivated. 

At the same time, going fully asynchronous might not be the best choice for you. Especially if you're brand new to remote work. Calls can be helpful to help colleagues engage in a way that's similar to an in-office setting.

It's wise to give your teams the autonomy to decide for themselves how they'd like to synchronize.

And if you'd like to meet with a team, it's wise to ask your team how they'd prefer to meet: Voice, Video or Text.

Those calls can be more formal. For example, they may be organizational and let your team share progress. Or, they can be more casual. An example would be sharing information about the week. 

Plan Team Activities

Team activities are a staple of motivation for in-person workplaces. With some creativity, they also work for remote employees. Happy hours, magic shows, concerts, and more can become virtual. You can do a virtual watch party for a favorite movie. Gaming nights. The possibilities are endless. 

Some places even make this easier. There's virtual escape rooms you can organize. Or happy hours and cooking events where you send everyone the materials beforehand.

Encourage Breaks

The occasional break is crucial for motivation and progress with any job. This is especially true when working remotely.

If people are struggling to concentrate, encourage them to take a break. Let them know that they can sign off and make up the work later. This lets employees work when they feel most focused. 

In addition to encouraging breaks, encourage some conversation. Think of it as a replacement for in-office chatter. Give employees autonomy to spin up their own Slack channels.

There can be casual channels as well as work-related ones.  Teams can share their favorite music playlists, talk about their hobbies. Or they can celebrate wins and do work-related Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions.

Encourage a Work-life Balance

Remote employees can struggle to separate work from life. This is especially hard when working from home. Make it easier by encouraging them to create a dedicated office space. Ideally, give employees a budget for this. 

Encourage employees to be active at work as well. A simple option is a standing desk. Or employees could get under-the-desk foot pedals for exercise. At the least, encourage them to get up and stretch regularly. Feeling revived will keep them motivated. 

To further encourage a work-life balance, set parameters for work. Do not expect your employees to work every minute of the day. This will result in them feeling burnt out. That will reduce their motivation. Instead, have clear expectations.

This can be the expectation to only work during business hours. Or it can be an expectation of working a set number of hours a day, regardless of when that is. Another option is to measure employee contributions by the work they've accomplished, and not time worked.

Give Challenging and Creative Work

Another great motivation is to give employees work that is challenging. It should require some creativity. You can do this by giving employees the autonomy to run a project end-to-end and experiment with projects that interest them.

Provide Feedback

It is human nature to crave positive feedback. Giving your employees feedback lets them know they are on track. It will encourage them to continue their work. It can also increase their confidence. People tend to feel more motivated when they are confident. 

If you need to, make a feedback schedule to achieve this. A simple option is a five-minute feedback session once a week. For even more motivation for employees, schedule something similar unrelated to assignments or clients. 

Ask For Feedback 

In addition to feedback for your remote employees, let them return the favor. Make sure you know how they are doing in terms of motivation. Consider something like weekly anonymous surveys. You can ask for responses about feelings and motivation, productivity, or anything else. 

Encourage feedback on potential improvements. Your remote employees know themselves best. They are better equipped to know what will make working remotely easier. 

Make the Mission Clear 

For employees to be motivated, they need a goal. An easy way to do this is to make your mission clear. Have a strong vision for the work. Keep that vision or goal prominent. Let people know that their work matters and is laddering up to the company mission.

About Remote Creative Work

Remote Creative Work is the place to find remote creatives that fit your culture and love remote work. Post a job today in less than 5 minutes. 

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