Motivating Remote Employees – A Guide to Engaging Your Staff

4th May 2020

motivating remote employees

Remote workers, whether they’ve been working out of the office for a long time or they’re new to it, can quickly feel isolated and disconnected from their teams. If this is the case, it’s likely that the effort they put into their tasks will begin to wane, and they might start delivering sub-par work. Avoid this problem by making sure you implement ways to keep remote employees feeling motivated and engaged.

Why you need to motivate remote employees

An unhappy workforce isn’t a business owner’s only concern when it comes to remote employees. If your staff who are working from home are not kept sufficiently motivated and engaged, this can lead to a loss of productivity and issues with time management.

Reasons why remote workers feel demotivated

There are a few different reasons why negative feelings could be present among remote workers, such as if;

  • Communication is limited
  • Appreciation isn’t made evident
  • Participation is not easy

If any or all of these ring true for your remote employees, they will feel undervalued or even forgotten about. And every team member needs to feel valued and connected in order for them to want to deliver their best work.

Keeping remote employees engaged

Make sure your business does not suffer as a result of discontented remote workers by making a point of keeping them motivated and engaged. There is a range of ways to do this, from facilitating teamwork with regular, digitised meetings, to sending thanks for a job well done.

Motivate staff with good communication

Communication is among the most valued attributes in the workplace, both from an employee and employer point of view. There’s no doubt that in just about any context, every individual values clear communication. When it comes to remote workers, one of the main reasons why relationships become disjointed is because they do not receive the same level of communication as they might in the office.

Unfortunately, this is largely unavoidable, because those seemingly unimportant face-to-face chats can no longer happen. There are a number of ways to encourage more communication, however;

  • Invite remote workers into team meetings by video calling them. This way, if the majority of the team are in the office, remote workers can still feel included because they can hear and see their colleagues on a regular basis. This offers a platform for them to voice their opinions and ask questions, allowing them to be part of any decision-making.
  • Make regular oneto-one phone calls. This might not be necessary every day, but making time to call remote workers at least once weekly will go a long way toward ensuring they feel valued. Such calls indicate that you are thinking of their work, meaning it is valuable to you and your business as a whole.
  • Facilitate instant messaging. A great way to ensure your teams regularly communicate is to introduce a workplace instant messenger system. There are a number of platforms available, such as Slack, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams, all of which offer a space for those quick conversations that a remote worker is likely to be missing out on.

Sadly, many remote employees feel that they are ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Under this belief, it’s likely that such staff will feel undervalued – losing their motivation to work. Regular communication, however, proves that this is not the case, so this is one of the most valuable (and least demanding) tools you can use to keep remote workers engaged.

Keep employees engaged by facilitating participation

As with a lack of communication, many remote workers lose their sense of teamwork simply because they are not around their team. This can be remedied by finding different ways to allow colleagues to participate in projects and social events together. Consider experimenting with the following ideas;

  • Host team events whenever they are in the office. Even if this is only when they are first hired and come in for training, or it’s once a year for their annual appraisal, be sure to find ways to encourage socialising when remote workers are in the office. This could be a team lunch, interactive training session, or after-work social event; anything that enables remote workers to get to know the rest of their team.
  • Give remote workers additional responsibilities. In addition to performing the tasks associated with their role, a great way to facilitate more participation is to ask your remote workers to get involved with other duties. For example, you could consider putting them in charge of organising a charity campaign or orchestrating a staff questionnaire.
  • Encourage online social events. The beauty of the internet today is that it allows people from all over the world to talk, watch, and play together. Whether it’s an online quiz game or a Fantasy Football League, initiating online social networking is an effective way to enable remote workers to get to know their colleagues.

Another big factor that causes disengagement among homeworkers is the fact that they do not get the opportunity to interact with their colleagues in a way that’s not dictated by their work. There could be a range of reasons why they are working remotely, but not wanting to see their team and participate in activities is not likely to be one of them.

Motivate remote workers by showing appreciation

In the same vein as the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thought, many remote workers feel that the job they do is taken for granted. This sense of unappreciation is likely to occur because their colleagues and senior staff are not nearby to express words of appreciation, so be sure to invest time saying thank you in other, direct ways.

  • An individual phone call or email goes a long way. While group emails and thanks in team meetings seem impersonal and generic, taking time to say a personal thank you to one member of the team will help that person feel appreciated. This is true of both in-house and remote workers. Make sure you find time to express praise and gratitude for specific work or a job well done.
  • Send a personalised gift on birthdays or work anniversaries. Again, to avoid remote workers feeling like just another sheep in the herd, be sure to send them personal gifts of recognition on special occasions. Throughout the year make a note of things you find out they like, so you can use this later on.
  • Offer tailored remote worker benefits. Another common complaint among remote workers is that they do not have access to the same benefits that in-office staff do. This could be anything from staff birthday cakes to local discounts. Keep this in mind and be sure to find more appropriate benefits for your remote workers, like subsidized internet bills, stationery to use at home, or discount cards for nationwide services.

Letting your remote staff know that they are being thought of and that they are truly appreciated for what they bring to the team and the company, on the whole, is a very effective way of keeping them motivated. To know that your work has not gone unnoticed and is in fact highly valued is often enough to keep anyone willing to put in 110%.


Keeping remote employees engaged is a challenge that many owners of office-based companies are likely to encounter at some point, as homeworking becomes increasingly prevalent. Whether this is through convenience and choice, or unprecedented circumstances such as with coronavirus social-distancing, remote working is fast becoming the new norm. Find out more about supporting remote workers with information about the at-home workspace, and why it’s important to keep a routine when working from home.