A year and a half ago, working from home felt like a dream come true. I mean, what’s not to love about wearing sweatpants for days, commutes being cut from hours to mere seconds, and sleeping in later than usual?! Taken together, one would assume that employees would feel far more energized and satisfied working from home...right? 

Well, not to burst your bubble (pun intended), but this new office arrangement has actually been proven to negatively affect morale. Why, you might ask? At the core of any company is its workplace culture, and without an actual workplace to bring everyone together, employees are beginning to feel disconnected, overworked, and underappreciated.

Luckily, we have the cure! It’s time to redirect the money you’ve saved from not having an office space into the employees that have worked so hard during a…stressful time to say the least (read: global pandemic). They deserve some new and unique perks to boost their spirits and re-energize. Rewarding your employees doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. In fact, the virtual space can lend itself nicely to giving thanks to employees in a way that wasn’t previously possible. If you’re looking for a good place to start, read on! Here are Moniker’s 7 ways to thoughtfully reward your remote employees.

1. Give The Gift Of Not Having to Cook

Just because people are working from home, doesn’t mean they suddenly have enough time to cook 3-square meals a day. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the job-searching site, Joblist, 59% of employees interviewed reported that they regularly worked past normal office hours when working from home. This is furthered by multiple studies reporting that remote workers have a worse work-life balance given the lack of division between office and home space. With so little time to themselves, cooking has become quite the daunting task. So, why not take the stress off at least one meal of the week?

Try a gift card to Skip The Dishes, Uber Eats or DoorDash for an upcoming Friday so your employees have something yummy to look forward to. For healthier options, consider gifting a meal kit right to their front door. There are plenty of options to choose from, including Good Food, Chef’s Plate or Hello Fresh. Break bread with your employees (virtually) and keep their bellies full, hearts happy, and minds fueled!

Give a night off from cooking to thoughtfully reward your remote employees!

2. Recognize the Milestones

As much as it may feel as though the world came to a halt during 2020, time ticks on whether we are in the office or at home. Without a tangible connection to their colleagues, your employees might feel like their accomplishments or milestones have fallen by the wayside. Do you have staff members celebrating 1 year, 3 years, 5 years or more at your company? Is someone celebrating a birthday? Now more than ever, it’s crucial to recognize the little things in life and do your part to ensure employees' feats don’t go unnoticed.  

Consider rewarding your team members with a gift card of their choice and a handwritten card as a small token of your gratitude. A card may seem trivial, but heartfelt words can do a world of wonder in making people feel appreciated. If a gift card isn’t your style, consider personalized swag (our boss was kind enough to get us branded Moniker beach blankets to celebrate a major milestone this season!), a balloon bunch delivery, or have them pick an online teambuilding activity for a fun afternoon spent celebrating with everyone (nudge, nudge).  

Celebrating the small wins - however that may look for your company - is a sure way to remind your employees that you are thankful for them.

3. Make Their Home Office an Actual Office

When we were thrown into work-from-home last year, many of us weren’t equipped. Cue: working at the kitchen table, dealing with unreliable internet, and hearing your partner’s work calls from the other room. Both our focus and our backs were shot!

Here’s your chance to help bring the office to them. Even a small commitment to improving their workspace will make a big difference. Noise canceling headphones, a new desk, a back supporting office chair, a better internet package, blue-light glasses, the list goes on, seriously. The freedom to choose will help your employees customize their at home office to ensure their most peaceful (and productive) space. 

A stipend is one way to go, but if you want to spice things up, why not leave the decision to chance? Have employees spin a prize wheel with multiple office equipment options on it. Whatever it lands on is theirs to keep! This prize wheel can also be extended well beyond just office equipment for added fun.   

Increase an employee's productivity and happiness with a clean and functional workspace

4. Time: The Commodity We Can’t Buy, But You Can Gift

As the lines between home and work blur, it can be hard to stay on top of chores, get some exercise in, help kids with their homework, or food prep for the week. Sometimes, an extra hour or two is all we need to get our lives in order.

This is where you come in. Offer a late start once a week, early quitting time on Fridays, or an extra long lunch hour for those sneaky lunch time workouts. Better yet, offer a day once a month solely for employees to catch up on all the chores around their house. The dishes they meant to wash, the laundry they meant to fold, or the restful hour they really needed for their mental health. With a de-cluttered mind, they’ll be refreshed and just as productive during their working hours, if not more.

5. Don’t Just Work From Home, WorkOUT From Home 

From the same creators who brought you Lack of Home Offices, comes the new hit: We Also Don’t Have Home Gyms. Last year many of us were suddenly left with not so much as a yoga mat to stretch on. And no we don’t all like running, Karen. A lack of workout resources is another huge obstacle when it comes to your employees’ mental and physical health.

If you have it in your budget, it may behoove you to provide a small bursary to your employees for an online fitness subscription, or to buy a few key pieces of equipment. A yoga mat, a few free weights, some resistance bands and you’re laughing. Or should I say... sweating?

You can make this extra cost-effective, by putting together a Google Doc that highlights free fitness resources, all in one convenient place. Not only are there free fitness apps (like FitOn and Sweatabl), but also studios that offer Instagram live classes and a plethora of free trials to take advantage of (Elle on Demand is a great example). Better yet, have your employees contribute to the doc and you’ll double your resources, while at the same time reinforcing collaboration between colleagues.

Don’t underestimate the value of movement to boost everyone’s moods. Your employees will thank you!

Upgrade up their home gyms as a thoughtful reward for your remote employees

6. Fund Their Professional Development

When you’re at home day in and day out, it’s easy to lose the sense that you are working toward a specific goal. Feeling that you are progressing in your career is not only a huge motivator, but a big contributor to life satisfaction. Take some time to understand this feeling your employees might be experiencing, and recognize that you can help.

You can subsidize an online course or give team members some time off specifically to attend a virtual conference/engagement session. Take some time out of your day and offer to meet with each employee individually to talk about progress, career goals and professional development. It’s personal, and shows that you don’t just care about the work they’re doing today, you care about where they’re going tomorrow.

7. Everyone Loves a Discount

Really, who doesn’t like getting a discount on their purchase? This one’s easy, we promise. Create a survey of commonly used products or services that your employees might like a discount on. Let them contribute ideas and vote for what would help them the most. Think local restaurants or shops, grocery deliveries, office supplies, cleaning services, get creative!

Once you’ve got a couple of winners, contact the chosen companies and see if you can negotiate a small discount (either one time use or continuous) in exchange for your business. Not only is this cost-effective, but very customizable. Your employees will love the gesture and see this as a great perk.

Take Work Perks to The Next Level!

While it may have started as an impromptu response to Covid-19, it’s clear that work-from-home is here to stay. We’ve adapted as employees, so the work perks need to adapt along with us. Working virtually actually gives you more freedom to creatively and thoughtfully reward your remote workers. 

Be sure to choose rewards that will further company connection, boost their mental health, and make each and every employee feel appreciated. Our best tip is to let your employees have a say in what would truly feel rewarding to them, and you can’t go wrong. Happy rewarding!