Interesting dilemma! I’ve never managed staff on equity only but I have managed part-time remote staff and a large sales team which in itself, is a challenge!
I might be wrong here but I’m assuming you’re running a start up or a young company if you’ve hired part-time remote staff on equity?
If I were to put myself in one of your teams shoes, one thing I’d expect is to have access to are the wider company’s financial progress on a regular basis. I appreciate that can be tough from a founders perspective as it’s not always comfortable sharing those details openly. Saying that, by providing some form of regular updates whether it be on investment rounds you’re working on, any commercial deals etc, it shows you’re committed to growing the company and thus increasing their share value which would translate in increased commitment and motivation. Perhaps a regular group video conference call involving everyone?
Commercial gain aside, something else I’d suggest would be to focus on their individual career goals and professional development. Assuming it’s suitable for your staff based on your business and of course you have the bandwidth to do this. Caring personally about your staff (part-time or not) is really powerful and can lead to those extra motivation levels. Have you created or implemented development plans for your staff? Have you ever asked the following questions:
What motivates each person on your team?
What are their long term ambitions?
What are their motivations and goals in life inline with their current position?
Why do they care about their work?
What they want out of life?
You don’t need to provide them with meaning but getting to know them personally and then developing them inline with such questions above will really help them feel valued and in turn, committed to their role whether it’s equity based or not.
I hope the above helps but feel free to reach out if you want to speak or have any further questions.