Remote work isn’t a new idea. In early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, approximately 7 million Americans were already working from home at least part of the time. Since the pandemic, those numbers have skyrocketed.
As of July 2021, around 62% of all employees between the ages of 22 and 65 work from home, at least partially. By 2025, the number of remote workers in the United States is expected to rise to a staggering 36.2 million.
There are many advantages to transitioning from an in-office to a fully remote or hybrid office. However, it can also be incredibly challenging, especially when it comes to rewarding and recognizing remote employees.
Dissecting Employee Recognition in Digital Teams
Executives, supervisors and leaders from all industries have been reluctant to adopt remote work because they believe it would be challenging to provide the same recognition and qualitative leadership that they provide in-office. That isn’t to say it’s impossible or necessarily true. That just means they aren’t accustomed to it, so they aren’t equipped with the proper strategies to handle it.
It’s harder to know if someone needs time, motivation or guidance when they aren’t within sight. It’s challenging to delegate and monitor projects when schedules become flexible and asynchronous. It can feel impossible to provide recognition and rewards like free snacks, comped lunches and recreational breakroom sports when teams work miles apart in separate homes.
Employers can’t just throw gift cards at their people and call that good leadership. So, how can companies overcome these challenges without losing their ability to recruit and retain top talent? How do they effectively ensure that their remote employees feel rewarded and recognized? How do they provide consistent sub-level support to all of their employees, even those who work from home?
6 Ideas for Rewarding and Recognizing Remote Employees
Learning how to recognize employee effort and promote employee well-being is complex, whether an organization is in-office, hybrid or completely remote. Support and recognition must be equitable for everyone. It’s essential for leaders, executives and supervisors to create an ongoing and consistent strategy for cultivating, rewarding and assisting remote teams.
Here are six creative and unique ideas for rewarding and recognizing remote employees that will increase engagement and improve the work-from-home experience.
1. Home Offices and Remote Workspaces
When employees transition to remote work, they’re going to need the necessary tools and supplies to do their job. Many organizations may not realize it, but some people don’t even own a desk or computer. Companies can assist their people by providing set-up tools and office supplies, including:
Computers or Laptops (including second monitors)
Desks and Chairs (standard or sitting-standing convertible desks for the more health-conscious)
Desktop Phones or Headsets
Accessories and Cables (mouses, ethernet cables, routers, etc.)
Software and Programs (specifically to aid in productivity)
Possessing the necessary tools is critical to an employee’s success; they’re non-negotiable in a remote workforce. However, employers can offer luxurious office equipment, upgrades or decorations for rewards and recognition. A company might even reward the top salesperson each month, quarter or year with a home-office makeover budget.
2. Coffee, Snacks and Subscription Services
In the office, making coffee is intuitive. Snacks and water are constantly available, so it costs next to nothing to step away for a second or pop into the breakroom for a quick boost. Employees don’t even have to think about it.
Once they transition to remote work, they have to purchase and take care of those things themselves. Companies can assist them by providing monthly subscription services, like Bean Box or Driftaway Coffee, or providing a monthly food delivery budget with services like GrubHub. They can also offer stipends or gift cards to help cover the costs of the conveniences that employees miss by working remotely.
3. Flexible Schedules and Expectations
Switching to a remote work environment is a big change for employers, but it’s also a pretty significant change for employees. They’re forced to transform part of their home into a workable office space. They’re constantly surrounded by the stresses of everyday life that non-remote employees can escape when they go to the office.
Organizations can improve this situation by recognizing that remote work requires a little more flexibility. For example, if an employee earns a significant achievement, why not reward them with a half-day or a three-day weekend? A little time off to spend with their friends or family can profoundly impact employee well-being.
4. Celebrate Digitally
Companies shouldn’t forgo significant milestones that they’d typically celebrate just because their teams are remote. If it’s someone’s birthday, employers should give them a shoutout on the company’s social media. If someone is celebrating a work anniversary, supervisors should still recognize and celebrate that achievement.
Companies like Group Greeting specialize in digital celebrations, which is perfect for teams that work from home. Organizations should never let a little remoteness stand in the way of celebrating their people.
5. Travel Options: Work From a Vacation Home
People who work remotely can essentially work from anywhere. As a result, companies can offer rewards in the form of travel, stay and airline accommodations.
How incredible would it be to work from a four-star resort in the Caribbean or a cabin in the woods (provided there’s reliable internet)? They can enjoy the scenery in the morning, work through the afternoon and settle into nightlife once they’re officially unplugged. If an employee consistently provides outstanding work and proves to be an invaluable asset to the team, why shouldn’t they be rewarded?
6. Offer Customizable Lifestyle Benefits
One more way to reward and recognize employees is by offering them lifestyle employee benefits that are proven to have a positive and profound impact on their lives. Most traditional employee benefits aren’t usable until employees are sick, hurt, dead or over 65 years old. So, why not offer benefits that employees can use today?
Fringe’s customizable lifestyle benefits platform dispels the need for a one-size-fits-all benefits package. With their platform, team members are given points, which they can use to choose between over 100 unique lifestyle benefit options, like subscription services and food delivery. Plus, companies can always add points to an employee’s account to recognize and show appreciation.
Interested in learning more? Schedule a free demo today.