Showing appreciation for remote workers can be challenging, but there are plenty of affordable ways to demonstrate employee gratitude for those working from home.
Especially in the wake of COVID-19, many employers are facing the challenge of managing remote teams or employees. Assigning tasks and holding virtual meetings are relatively easy, but other things, like showing employee gratitude, can be more difficult when you’re all working remotely.
When employees work in the office, it simple enough to tell someone they’ve done an excellent job or offer opportunities for advancement. That ease is lost when a manager and employee are not in the same room or even the same building. Managers need to be more intentional about showing employee gratitude for remote workers. It may also be a good idea to show remote teams your appreciation more often since they are not usually part of the daily goings-on that happen in the office.
When much of the world has gone remote and intends to stay that way, here are some tips for showing gratitude to those team members who make their contributions from a distance.
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7 Ways to show employee gratitude even when you aren’t in the same location
1. Start with a community.
One of the most significant challenges of being a remote worker is the isolation from your coworkers. Ten years ago, this was more difficult to overcome. In today’s age of video conferencing, it’s much more practical to create a community of teammates that includes those working from home. Schedule virtual happy hours once a month and make sure that your remote employees are involved in all-staff meetings via video-conference. Make sure they’re included in everything relevant to in-house employees, especially the fun stuff.
There are also useful apps like Slack that can help enhance connectivity among remote workers. Add-ons like Donut do an even better job of connecting distant team members and creating a real community that spans a whole region, country, or even the globe. This helps engage workers by improving communication and accessibility to one another.
2. Have regular meetings with remote workers.
Remote workers need feedback and guidance as much as anyone else. Take the time to schedule weekly or bi-weekly one-to-ones, virtually, with your remote staff. Do your best not to cancel or shift these meetings. By establishing regular communication, you are demonstrating employee gratitude by showing your team that their work and wellbeing is essential to you.
3. Encourage vacation (and let them take it).
Remote workers can have a hard time separating their personal lives from their professional lives since, in a way, they’re always at the office. This can hurt productivity and engagement. If you have a remote employee who is responding to messages or emails well into the evening or even if someone just hasn’t been out in a while, encourage them to take some time off and when they do, leave them alone. Studies have shown that even managers acknowledge that taking time off usually leads to more productive employees and reduces employee burnout. This is especially important for remote employees. If they say they have too much work to do, sort out a plan for them to fulfill their duties to the company, and get some quality time to rest and recharge.
4. Make sure they have what they need.
Who’s responsible for the cost of a home office setup is something of a gray area. A lot of it can depend on the situation (is the remote work voluntary or not, etc.). If you can, show your employee gratitude by at least chipping in if not covering the entire cost of setting up a home office. Doing so tells the employee that you’re dedicated to providing them the tools and resources they need to succeed.
5. Bring remote workers to the office.
Depending on how spread out your team is, this one can be tough or costly. However, if you only have one or two remote workers, pick a time of the year, perhaps during a holiday party or other company event, and fly the remote worker(s) to your locale to participate in person with their coworkers. This can go miles not just with demonstrating employee gratitude but also with building community among the entire team.
6. Recognize cultural differences.
Especially if you have remote workers in other countries, it’s important to recognize the cultures, customs, and holidays of the countries where your teammates live. Keep a global calendar of events, perhaps even make it public, so the whole team can see when a colleague may be celebrating or observing something. To that end, tailor employee gifts to their cultural norms. You might even create opportunities for employees from other backgrounds to share about themselves and their cultures on a virtual all-staff meeting. Employee gratitude is evident when you engage remote workers in learning more about who they are and what their daily worlds are like.
7. Offer opportunities to move up.
Finally, remote workers often suffer from what seems like an inability to move up the ladder at a company. Sometimes, a position needs to be in-house, so there may be times when it isn’t possible. But if a new position opens up that can easily be worked remotely, make sure your remote team knows about it and encourage them to apply. Even if they don’t get the job, they’ll appreciate that you thought about them and gave them a chance to advance.
Bonus tip: Provide company swag.
One of the best ways to make a remote worker feel like they belong and are cared for is to send them some company swag. Everyone likes free things, and gifting a t-shirt, a tote bag, a hat, or something else can go a long way. One tip, though: Don’t send the cheapest swag you’ve got. It may seem silly, but a quality tote bag expresses gratitude just a little better than a keychain.
The distance between employers and remote workers may feel extreme sometimes, but it’s easier than many people realize to bridge that gap and feel connected. Plus, the effort it takes is well worth it. A connected, engaged team is always more productive and profitable than a team of people who feel forgotten or taken for granted.
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