How Do You Motivate and Reward Employees You Don't See?

Sep 30, 2021
How do you motivate and reward employees you don't see?

Remote work has been a new concept to many organizations and many leaders over the last 18 months. What at first was a matter of necessity caused by the global pandemic, the need for social distancing, and to accommodate quarantines and lockdowns has become a new way of life and an expectation for employees as we emerge from the pandemic.  While many employees enjoy the flexibility of working remotely – they don’t want to be left out.   You cannot allow the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality to set in.  As a leader you are responsible for making sure your remote team members feel like that – members of the team.  


I was fortunate to lead a hybrid team for many years.  We had about 80% of the team working in the office, 20% working remotely, and our remote team was flexible about  coming into the office from time to time as needed.  During that time, we learned some tough lessons as we built the work from home structure.  I wanted to share with you a few learnings from my time pre-pandemic as a leader of remote employees, as well as some learnings that have emerged during the pandemic. 


It took time to build a work at home option for my team.   It was very much in demand, but we had lots of questions about how to operationalize.  I was fortunate to have the luxury of time to build those protocols.  Many businesses were thrust into the remote work environment in the Spring of 2020.  Here are 6 tips for keeping your remote employees engaged, productive and feeling appreciated.

  1. Leverage technology to ensure the teams can literally “see” each other.  Sometimes it’s easier to jump on a call, or deliver messaging via email.  Using a tool like Zoom allows a more personalized experience.  Notice things in their background … ask questions, engage, show interest in them as a person.  Be as attentive on Zoom as you would be when you engage with an employee over something sitting on their desk in the office.  

  2. Regularly survey the team.  Do they have the tools needed to do their job?  Do they feel connected to their leaders, to each other?  Are they receiving information on a timely basis?  What further support can you provide so that they feel a sense of team?  Don’t make assumptions.  You won’t know how to improve THEIR experience unless you ask THEM.  This applies to both the office and remote employees.  As much as the remote team wants to feel connected to the office, the employees in the office want to feel connected to the broader team including those that work remotely.  

  3. Be aware of any “in the moment” recognition being done for employees in the office.  How will you translate that for your remote employees?  One of my friends that works remotely recently shared a recognition experience.  The team was having a particularly rough day and the leader went out to pick up coffee for everyone in the office.  As he messaged the team to request their coffee orders – in parallel he emailed a Starbuck’s gift card to each of the remote employees.  After all, they were having a rough day too!  It's so great that the remote team did not feel like an afterthought.  

  4. Allow for both structured and on demand communications.  Have regular 1:1 check-ins and team meetings.  Be available for employees who need you.   Make commitments regarding both your responsiveness and their responsiveness.  A remote employee should not have any less access to leadership than the employee who can walk down the hall for a chat or engage in conversation in the breakroom.

  5. Allow for flexibility and focus on outcomes. In some instances, like a contact center, you need employees “on line” and available at specific times.  If that is not operationally required – allow the remote employee some flexibility with their schedule.  Focus on what they accomplish.   Set clear expectations in terms of deliverables and timelines, and allow some give and take in terms of how the work gets done.  

  6. Establish a digital process for employees to recognize each other.  Many businesses have a process for customers to recognize an employee for delivering great service.  And as leaders you should be recognizing your employees for great performance.  By adding a peer recognition process you build team camaraderie, encourage collaboration and reinforce the importance of team success over individual success.


Companies continue to feel the impact of the Great Resignation – so it’s important that you focus on how to keep your current employees and recruit new employees.  For some companies it is determining if they will continue to offer a remote work option for employees.  The decision to allow remote work is just the start.  The remote experience has to be well thought out and nurtured.   


If you’re struggling with staffing and it’s impacting your ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience, let’s jump on a Free Strategy Session where we can develop a plan to retain, recruit and utilize employees to achieve your business goals.  

Let’s do this!


About Me:  I'm Heather Havey and my consulting business helps leaders bring their big ideas to implemented reality.   I’m passionate about efficiency and business transformation, and I will empower you to accelerate the achievement of your goals.   I offer customized, no-nonsense, real-world solutions designed to position you as the hero in the reinvention of your business.    

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