Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship?

The reason they’re considered so hard is because you don’t get to spend time with your significant other. You can call them and make the occasional visit, but people that get to spend time with you or your significant other in person will ultimately have an advantage. These relationships often don’t work out.

Neurochemically, you don’t release oxytocin nearly as much on a call (even a video call) as you do in person. Oxytocin, also called “the love hormone”, helps humans bond and feel loved, valued, and appreciated. Physical touch like a handshake primes the body to release oxytocin. It is often mistaken as a sexual hormone, but there are many platonic and even non-physical ways to trigger oxytocin. 

That last part is particularly good news for you if you run a fully-remote agency. It’s tough to develop loyal employees if they don’t feel close to you or their co-workers. Relationships are a huge factor in employee retention, as people enjoy their work much more if they can share the experience with others they like and trust. 

These relationships help us feel like a part of something bigger than ourselves and help us give more to our work, as we’re usually more open to serving those we like. They also help us feel safe and secure. 

So what can we do if we run a fully-remote agency? Are we destined to have lower employee retention from employees that will happily take a job offer from any other agency that comes along with slightly more pay?

Ways To Increase Loyalty Among Remote Employees

The good news here is that you can help to cultivate deeper relationships in your agency, even if you are fully remote. Yes, it’s easier with in-person agencies, but there is plenty you can do without getting everyone together in the same place on a consistent basis.

 Here are a few ideas:

  1. Weekly Video Lunches
    This one is somewhat dependent on everyone being within 1-3 time zones, but I worked with an agency once that had these “lunch” meetings every week they gave everyone credit to a food deliver service and blocked off an hour for everyone to hop on a zoom call and chat. They would often play Jackbox Trivia games or Among Us if everyone was in the mood, and it was a great way to learn more about other people in the company in a non-work setting.

You can do whatever you want with these meetings to fit your agency’s vibe. Picking topics or playing guessing games like 20 questions can be good alternatives, or you can have a rolling schedule of discussions or activities. 

  1. Team Competitions or Challenges
    Competitions can be a great way to bring your agency together, particularly if you group them up into teams. The teams get closer to each other through shared experience and encouraging each other, and you have friendly competition. It may be a good idea to mix up the teams if you do multiple competitions so you don’t develop an “us-vs-them” mentality between established teams. Naturally, if most of your team isn’t competitive, or if you have a person or two that consistently dominate, you may want to reconsider this as an ongoing activity.

Challenges, on the otherhand, can be great for all parties involved. Each individual sets a goal for the challenge, which can be related to health, work, a personal project, or anything else that can involve everyone. Every week or two (whatever fits the goal), everyone gets together on a call to share their progress and wins. It can be a good idea to set up accountability partners that change for each challenge so individual relationships are strengthened and nobody feels like they’re falling behind without direct encouragement.

  1. Viewing Parties
    Movies and food are the universal languages. Scheduling a time to all watch a movie via streaming network can be a great way to bring people together. Get everyone to toss out movies they’d like to see, then hold a poll with the top 3-5 movie ideas. Have a slack channel open for running comments on the movie so nobody is talking over it, and you can make it more engaging. This type of party can create memes and inside jokes that live on in your agency for years to come.
  2. Team Sync Meetings
    Working together naturally brings coworkers together in the office, but you can still get some of the benefit by bringing together a team periodically for meetings designed to keep everyone on the same page.

Maybe you’re bringing together all of your ad managers to discuss accounts and help each other brainstorm ideas or solve problems with fresh perspective. Maybe you’re bringing together teams that share a lot of clients, but with different roles, to work through problems, bust out projects, or figure out new strategies.

Whatever the team, bringing together a group of coworkers to work toward a common goal together and help each other gives them opportunities to swap value, which can generate oxytocin throughout the group and form bonds.

  1. Open-Work Calls
    Piggy-backing off the previous point, bring up some instrumental music and drop a link in Slack for a “drop-in-drop-out” call to just have webcams up and a chat field for questions, invitations to breakouts, or links to resources.

This one is a bit hit-or-miss, and may be better with pairs vs an entire team, but it can be surprisingly helpful for combating loneliness. Some TikTok influencers started streaming videos of themselves working during 2020 and the reception was shocking. Tons of people hopped on to watch them sit at their computer quietly and click or type. They would occasionally stop and answer questions, but they found that just having someone “there” while they were working, going through the same things they were going through, was helping them feel less alone in their remote work.


A lot of 100% remote agencies have meetings out of necessity, rather than for bringing people together. It’s great for efficiency, but bad for relationships. If you want to keep your employees for a long time, it helps a lot if you have a relationship with them and if they have relationships with their coworkers that goes beyond cold productivity.

Productivity and efficiency are important, but so is morale and retention. Giving up an hour or two a week in productivity for a year or two of employee retention will be a profitable exchange if you compare the dollar-per-hour output of your employees vs the cost of hiring new ones.