In recent years the trend towards remote working has been on the incline. In the absence of a traditional brick and mortar office, face-to-face interactions and witnessing the day to day grind employees can be left feeling isolated and under-appreciated. Being mindful that recognition is crucial to the success of any team and even more so in remote teams to increase morale, loyalty, reduce turnover, and ensure employees don’t feel unseen. 

Now with the unforeseen pandemic thrust upon us in 2020 most companies have scrambled to make the shift to a remote working environment. During times of crisis, more than ever it’s important to ensure a remote workforce feels acknowledged. 

Here are some low price tag, but high impact ways in which you can keep your workforce engaged, inspired and connected. 

1. Showing Appreciation 

The simple gesture of a personal thank you is a powerful motivator. According to a study conducted by Glassdoor, 81% of employees are driven to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. That is a staggering number for what can be as easy as a personal note of sincere thanks, a voice note or shout outs during a team meeting

Although mass messages are an effective means of communicating they don’t necessarily come off as thoughtful when they’re used to show appreciation. Instead, opt for drafting individualized messages pointing out the contributions that the employee has made. This shows their individual efforts did not go unnoticed. 

2. Non-traditional rewards 

As the saying goes “it’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.” Acknowledge hard work with a Starbucks voucher, rewarding them with a gift coupon, a day off or even the occasional early Friday afternoon to give employees a little time away from their to-do lists is always a much-appreciated reward. 

Working from home comes with its own challenges as some remote workers struggle to separate their business lives from their personal lives. Show that you understand this problem by encouraging them to take vacation and then respecting that by leaving them alone during PTO. 

If the budget allows implement a rewards and recognition program, where employers, as well as employees, can recognize the efforts of each other. Alternatively, a company-wide retreat is an invaluable way to bring teams together, allowing them to step away from their norm to bond over shared experiences and team building activities. 

3. Give Remote Workers a Voice

Few things are worse than an employee feeling like they don’t have a voice and they’re merely a cog in the machine. To combat this, implementing a feedback system that offers not only a chance for performance-related feedback but an open discussion. This gives employees an identity and often leads to enhanced productivity through streamlined processes and fresh ideas.

In the New York Times bestseller, One Minute Manager the author notes “None of us is as smart as all of us.” - A simple but powerful statement.  

For companies that have a head office with in-house staff and a significant remote workforce, it is important to fostering a remote-first approach to communication. Ensure all employees feel like they’re part of a team. Try to level the playing field by having fully remote meetings, even if the majority of attendees are in-house. 

4. Balancing Work and Play

It has become easier to work remotely with conference calls and cloud-based applications but the informal watercooler chats and weekly happy hours are lost. That is why it is imperative to set aside time on a regular basis for virtual bonding. An opportunity for colleagues to talk about anything other than work, play virtual team building games, host a lunch and learn or a company trivia. Helping to cultivate cohesive teams, boost engagement and most importantly, reduce burnout among employees.

5. Time Zone and Cultural Considerations 

In companies with employees dialling in from all corners of the globe, it is vital to have a clear understanding of the time zone differences and recognize important days/holidays in each country. To avoid situations where employees feel they have to be available at inconvenient hours to connect with their team. By doing so a company nurtures unified, thoughtful employees that respect and appreciate their colleagues’ time. 

Big budget and lavish perks are not essential to keeping employees motivated. Don’t wait until Employee Appreciation Day in March each year to recognize individuals or teams.  

Taking the time to communicate how much you value your staff who work in a different physical location is well worth the effort. Psychologist and author Paul White noted in his 2012 book, The Five Languages of Appreciate in the Workplace, “Businesses with team members who feel valuable and appreciated are more profitable, there’s less conflict, and they get higher customer ratings.”