How to Motivate Remote Employees
10 min read

How to Motivate Remote Employees

Keeping remote employees motivated is of great importance to foster productivity. Here's how you can effectively motivate remote employees and help them become as productive as possible.
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For some employees, remote work will feel like trapped in isolation. If managers are not connecting with them the right way, it's only a matter of time until they lose trail of productivity and become work zombies.

Motivating remote employees is not just about encouraging them to work. It's more about helping them understand how important they are to the company, giving them the human connection they need, helping them fire up productivity without them even realizing it, and sometimes even rewarding them with perks.

Keeping remote employees motivated is not easy. But there are best practices that managers should follow to effectively motivate your employees. In this article, we'll explore how to motivate remote employees, why it's important to keep them motivated, and problems that spark without effective motivation techniques in place.

Importance of Keeping Remote Employees Motivated

The challenges of working remote are different from those in an office. It can often be more difficult to stay on task when there are distractions within the environment they're working from, and some people may feel isolated working by themselves.

That's why it's critical for managers to motivate their remote employees. A motivated remote worker is a productive remote worker. And a productive remote worker is key to a company's success.

Lack of Productivity

person working remotely beside clear hour glass
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When remote employees are working without the drive to produce the absolute result, it becomes a burden to themselves and the company. Everything ultimately leads to a lack of productivity, and work soon becomes a forced task for them to do.

Remote employees that aren't productive will have less focus and a slower pace of working. They work just for the sake of it.

This unproductive energy of a single remote employee is enough to hold a company back from producing the absolute result they thrive for. For one, it's a waste of resources for the company. And it can potentially lead to a negative impact on other remote employees, leading to a slower pace of work for an entire organization!

Isolation

person standing in front of a window
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For remote employees, it can be easy to feel isolated from the rest of the company. They might not have regular interactions with their teammates, and they might not feel like they're a part of the company culture.

If remote employees are feeling isolated, it's important for managers to help them feel connected to the company. There are a few ways to do this, such as:

  • Encouraging them to socialize with their teammates through regular team video calls or chat.
  • Helping them understand the company's mission and how their work contributes to it.
  • Giving them opportunities to lead or be involved in special projects

Lack of Emotional Connection

remote employee working from the rooftop
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In an office, it's pretty effortless for employees to form bonds with their co-workers. But for remote employees, it can be more difficult to create those emotional connections since they're not physically working together.

That's why it's significant for managers to create opportunities for their remote employees to socialize and connect with each other on a personal level. This can be done through:

  • Organizing regular team video calls or chat. Remember, the purpose of such activities should be to socialize, and not primarily for work.
  • Encouraging employees to socialize outside of work.
  • Scheduling one-on-one catch-ups.
  • Giving employees the opportunity to work on special projects together.

Burnout

remote employee working from home
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When employees are constantly working without any relief, it can lead to burnout. This is especially true for remote employees, who might feel like they need to overcompensate for not being in the office.

If remote employees are showing signs of burnout, it's vital that managers take action. Some things that managers can do to help prevent or relieve burnout are:

  • Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day, even if it's just for a few minutes.
  • Schedule "relaxation" time into the workday, where employees can do something they enjoy (like listening to music) for 20 minutes.
  • Give employees the flexibility to work when they feel most productive, within reason.
  • Encourage employees to take vacation days and use their PTO.

Now, on the other side of the spectrum are productive employees. These are people with a drive to work for the company’s goals. They're focused, fun and easy to work with, and holds a sense of working for a better future for themselves and for the company they're involved in.

Such remote employees are the exact opposite of work zombies. These employees work with a single goal in mind; to produce the best quality output.

The bottom line is that motivated remote employees are key to a company's success. When remote employees are motivated, they're more productive and have a positive attitude towards their work. This ultimately results in benefitting the company as a whole.

Considering all these factors, it's vital that managers learn how to effectively manage remote employees and motivate them to keep them as productive as possible.

Issues that Arise if Remote Employees are Not Motivated

Lack of motivation leads to many caveats within an organization. From laziness to decreased productivity, here are all the issues that can potentially rise due to lack of motivation among remote employees.

Laziness

remote employee working from the couch
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When remote employees are not motivated, they tend to be lazy and their work quality suffers. This leads to more mistakes, which can be costly for the organization.

Laziness is when employees don't feel like working. This shouldn't be confused with procrastination, as laziness simply means employees are not bothered about doing their tasks while still being fine with it. They don't care much and won't feel guilty even when deadlines are missed.

On the other hand, procrastination means not being able to force themselves to start doing a task and committing to it even though they have the desire to.

Unprofessionalism

remote employee working from home
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If a remote employee is not motivated, they might start to act unprofessionally. This can include being late to meetings, not completing work on time, or not following through with commitments.

This happens primarily due to a lack of interest in what they do. It's common for remote employees to lose interest in work after some time, especially as they're not engaged and cannot interact with colleagues.

Low Morale

remote employee working with headphone
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Lack of motivation among remote employees can bring down morale for the entire team. Low morale can have a negative impact on an employee's attitude and make them less likely to want to come to work.

Decreased Productivity

remote employee working on laptop
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The most obvious issue that arises when employees are not motivated is decreased productivity. This can have a major impact on a company, as it can lead to less work being completed and lower quality output.

It must also be noted that decreased productivity in even a single remote employee will contribute to slowing down an entire organization. Every employee of an organization is interdependent.

If one of the employees slow down and produce lower quality output, it will potentially influence the capability of other employees who will have to pick up on the unproductive result.

Ways to Keeping Remote Employees Motivated

There are a lot of different techniques you can use to keep your remote employees motivated at work. From offering health benefits to encouraging them to take adequate breaks, here are all the effective ways to keep remote employees motivated.

Offering Health Benefits

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One way to motivate remote employees is by offering them health benefits. This shows that you care about their well-being and want to invest in them.

In addition to this, healthy employees are the engine of any business. So keeping them as healthy as possible is a requirement that you should be committed to as much as them.

Flexible Hours

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Another way to motivate remote employees is by giving them flexible hours. This allows them to work when they're most productive and takes away some of the pressure of working set hours.

The best remote companies for employees are usually remote-first. They follow the concept of asynchronous communication, where no remote employee is obliged to take immediate response to any particular action in the company.

Async communication gives remote employees the freedom to do work at their convenience. This means that they don't necessarily have to work within set hours or immediately reply to colleagues on work related matters.

With async communication, each employee will have their own schedule. Since a remote company is united with people working across different time zones, async communication guarantees that no employee should be working outside their comfortable hours.

Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

Another way to motivate remote employees is by offering paid time off (PTO). This shows that you value their work-life balance and want them to have time to relax.

People might argue for permitting remote employees PTOs. But it's more to keep them motivated than it is to give them a chance to relax while still earning.

A paid time off simply means providing remote employees a few weeks or months of time off, while still paying them. Rather than just letting them know they have such a benefit, employers should try going the extra mile and genuinely encourage them to take the PTO when it's time.

This ultimately lets them know they're being rewarded for their hard work. And when you take the first step, it'll go a huge way for remote employees!

Checking up on Mental Health Regularly

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Mental health is important for everyone, but it's especially important for remote employees. This is because they can often feel isolated and lonely. Checking in on their mental health regularly can help prevent burnout.

Burnout is a serious concern in remote work. Ever since the pandemic, an estimated 69% of remote employees showed symptoms of burnout. That's a huge number. More than half of remote employees suffering burnout means that it can't be a more serious concern.

Most of the time, this is due to working in isolation and the lack of human connection. Only a very small percentage of remote workers will have their personal life influence burnout and mental stress, so the health of the majority of employees is a matter sitting inside your palm.

Checking up on their mental health helps. A lot, in fact.

Just ask them how they're doing, and even set up a one-on-one meeting if necessary and they're craving for it. Let them know that you care and ask them how you can be of help to make them feel better.

Use the Best Tools for Seamless Collaboration

remote employee working from a cafe
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If you want remote employees to be productive, it's important to use the best tools for seamless collaboration. This way, they can easily communicate and work together no matter where they are.

When you foster smooth collaboration among remote employees, they'll be able to become more productive in the work they do. Most companies don't put much thought into this, but the way a remote team collaborates each other has a lot to do in how they're able to produce results.

Seamless collaboration grants a quicker and easier way of doing things. Especially for repetitive tasks and documentation, there are a lot of available tools to make it easier and fun!

Legitimately Give Importance to Employees’ Feedback

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Make sure to listen to and take employees' feedback seriously. This will show them that you value their opinion and want to make changes that they suggest.

Not only does this add motivation to remote employees, but it's a really effective technique to improve yourself as an employer and as a business.

It's true that some employees might not take the process of providing feedback seriously. This is either due to the fact that they know you're not going to read and take action on the feedback, or you're doing perfectly as a company, which might not be the case for most companies.

So, it's your chance to prove otherwise and acknowledge and take action on employee feedback.

Encourage Employees to Take Breaks

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It's important for employees to take breaks, as it can help them avoid burnout. Encouraging employees to take breaks shows that you care about their well-being and want them to be productive.

Many remote employees tend to work long hours without taking adequate breaks. This not only exhausts them, but also makes work harder and eventually slows them down. This ultimately leads to burnout and unproductive output.

To avoid this, you should constantly let them know they have the freedom to take breaks as needed. In fact, you should be encouraging them to take a break if you see them working or long hours straight.

Conclusion

Giving employees the right care and attention is a great way to motivate them. It shows that you trust them and are willing to give them the flexibility they need to be successful.

The bottom line is that motivated remote employees are key to a company's success. When remote employees are motivated, they're more productive and have a positive attitude towards their work. This ultimately results in benefitting the company as a whole!

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