Excerpted from Search HR Software by Mark Feffer

For a lot of managers, a pre-pandemic employee motivation toolkit included a quick chat in the hall, the in-person warmth of a smile following critique, an impromptu meeting by the coffee machine to boost flagging spirits. But the widespread move to remote work calls for rethinking old approaches.

More than three-quarters of HR leaders — 77% — believe the shift toward remote work will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs, according to a recent survey by think tank The Conference Board.

That’s especially true since remote work appears to boost productivity for a number of companies.

But even before social-distancing and shelter-in-place orders forced a wide range of employees to work from home, businesses both large and small were incorporating remote-work arrangements into their operations.

Take the example of Digital Brand Expressions.

After Hurricane Sandy disrupted much of the East Coast in 2012, Niki Fielding, president of Digital Brand Expressions, a digital marketing agency in Princeton, N.J., decided to have her employees work from home two days a week. When the pandemic struck, her five-person staff and 10 contractors were able to seamlessly keep the business going.

“We were used to working with people closely, but remotely, all along,” Fielding said.

For Digital Brand Expressions, the move to a work-from-home full-time approach is an extension of what the company was already doing, but the realization that something was missing took a while, she said.

That something was the human touch.

“Those verbal interchanges, the joking around [was missing],” Fielding said.

As a business owner, her challenge was to help her employees — including two new hires — feel a part of the culture.

That’s a challenge many managers are facing. To that end, here are five ways to motivate remote workers.
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