Showing appreciation for remote workers is a bit more complicated since you can’t just plop a gift down on their desk or throw a break room party for your team. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just throw in the towel on showing appreciation for virtual employees, either. Here are nine ideas for rewarding your workers in virtual office environments:
9 Ways to Show Appreciation for Remote Workers
1. Send them custom gifts
Branded corporate swag is never a bad idea, whether it’s one-off items or custom work from home kits. However, you do need to carefully choose your promotional items to ensure that your employees will actually want them: Too many company gifts end up gathering dust on back shelves. Take an audit of what swag did well in the past to get an idea of what types of items you should choose moving forward (and to ensure that you don’t accidentally copy last year’s items). If you’re really at a loss, you can always poll your workers to get their opinions directly on what promotional items you should order.
2. Offer extra PTO or company holidays
Time is one of the best gifts that you can give to someone. This is especially relevant while working remotely, who often end up working longer hours at home and taking less PTO due to the decreased boundaries between “work” and “home.” If you think that your employees won’t take the extra PTO, even if you give it to them, then consider instituting extra company holidays instead of in the form of long weekends. If everyone has the same day off, that can reduce the pressure to keep working, vs. being on PTO while other people are in the office.
3. Give them virtual team experiences
There’s another type of gift besides physical items and time: experiences. Indeed, many companies used to host events or give away tickets for exactly this reason. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation makes getting together in person more fraught than ever, and not everyone feels confident in doing so. Instead of giving away tickets to physical in-person events, consider purchasing a virtual experience for your team instead, such as a group Zoom wine tasting. These experiences allow everyone to have a memorable time socializing without having to leave their house.
4. Encourage professional development
Professional development is expensive and can be time-consuming to pursue as well, so helping out your employees in this regard is sure to be appreciated. If you have room in the budget, set aside some money for each employee to use per year on training development programs such as courses, conferences and lectures. You might also wish to let them set aside a certain amount of time each week or month during business hours so they can work on their professional development credentials without having to do it in their free time.
5. Host virtual awards ceremonies
Many companies hosted annual or even monthly awards ceremonies to recognize their employees, but many of these were cancelled as work moved online. Instead, consider hosting a company-wide virtual awards ceremony on a regular basis to give great employee accomplishments more visibility. Setting aside work time for such a virtual ceremony shows that your business takes recognition seriously and that you prioritize it on a company-wide level, not just the individual team level.
6. Make the recognition public
Not every employee is comfortable being publicly lauded. If they are, then consider expanding your recognition beyond just internal company initiatives. Some businesses highlight employees in customer-facing ways as well, whether that’s an “employee of the month” highlight or shouting out workers on company social media accounts. Always ask their permission before posting anything public, but many of them will appreciate the extra appreciation.
7. Don’t forget home office equipment
Working from home is expensive, especially if you have to outfit your home office yourself. If you haven’t already, consider giving your employees a budget to upgrade their home offices or offer to reimburse any equipment they may have purchased on their own dime earlier on in the pandemic. Some employees may have put off making purchases that could make them more efficient, such as second monitors and stand-up desks, simply because the price tag is too big for their personal budgets. Just make sure that the distribution of the money is equitable across the company.
8. Keep it casual
Not every form of employee recognition has to become a big production. In fact, your employee recognition can be as simple as a “hey, good job” in passing — and it can be for smaller tasks as well as major projects. However, a remote office environment does make it more difficult to remember to give more casual accolades since most meetings and message chains have a very specific purpose and often lack small talk. Make it a point to socialize remotely with your coworkers and give shout-outs virtually in the same way that you would if you were in an office.
9. Give them a raise
Need another gift idea for office staff? We have one that everyone will love: more money. For the most part, remote workers have been even more productive and efficient than working in an office, and this deserves to be rewarded (especially if they have been putting in a lot of overtime). You can give them a permanent annual or hourly raise, or make it a one-time bonus if an ongoing raise isn’t feasible. Not only will this reward them for the hard work they’re already doing, but it will also incentivize continued good performance. We hope these nine ideas gave you some inspiration as to how you can show appreciation to your remote employees. If you’re not sure what they would like, you can always offer a couple different options and let them choose their preferred one!