It's no secret that when a company offers remote work they are attracting the top talent in their field, making not just for happier and more motivated employees but more successful businesses. Remote teams are growing across industries and across the country, as of July 2019, 62% of U.S workers work remotely and with a 44% growth rate over the last five years, this is more than some fashionable trend.

However, attracting these talented employees is just the first hurdle. It's how you retain them through respectful rewards and recognition, thereby reducing remote employee turnover and improving happiness, that shows your true prowess as a modern company.

Join Thousands of Remote Workers by Subscribing to Our Blog →


Why Is Remote Employee Recognition Important?

Whether your company is composed of hybrid employees or fully remote teams, you already know that the individuals that make up your business are your top priority and your top asset. You've already put in the appropriate work to hire and onboard your ideal remote employees, signing them on as team members based on the alignment of your priorities, goals, and the attraction of your job benefits. The next step of employment is retaining these talented employees through rewards and recognition.

Establishing a system of rewards built on vocalizing recognition isn't just about keeping your top employees around, but it's also about maintaining company-wide morale. Did you know that 69% of employees say that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized by their employer? When the majority of employees are regularly unhappy, the success of the business is at stake.

This is where the disconnect lies. Occasionally reward opportunities are available at companies but employees are not initially made aware of these opportunities so they do not believe in their existence. As an employee, pause to decide: How do you expect to be recognized when your goals are achieved? As an employer, be able to answer: How am I best acknowledging my team's successes?

Beyond your currently established quarterly and year-end performance reviews, both employees and employers need to create a reasonable, challenging metric for success throughout the year to continuously fuel motivation and ensure quality performance.


Employee Recognition Programs for Remote Employees

When managing a team in the digital age, it can be difficult to clearly define performance metrics for the hybrid teams and remote workers at your company. By rewarding your employees based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) throughout the year, rather than waiting to recognize these employees based on year-end performance reviews, you're reminding them that although they are not in-office their daily work is still teamwork and still noticed. But what does rewarding KPIs look like?


  • Celebrate ongoing wins. Sure, it's always a good idea to recognize employees when they secure the next big client or surpass your deadline expectations, but when we only celebrate the flashy accomplishments we are ignoring the real work that went into achieving them. When we create a culture where our employees feel continuously valued, we are ensuring a more impassioned work ethic.
  • Empower peer-to-peer recognition. With remote employees, KPIs can tend to go unnoticed when you're only privy to large milestones and the final product. But team members see everything, especially the small wins. Set up a program that encourages remote team members to lift one another up in the eye of the rest of the company. Whether it's a weekly Slack shout out or a bi-weekly email blast, or using a software like TINYpulse which allows for employees to send each other "Cheers for Peers," when we are recognized by our immediate team members we are encouraged to be a better team member.
  • Check in, so they don't check out. As a remote employee, it can be easy sometimes to cut corners or skip small steps on big projects because you aren't under the continuous 9-to-5 eye of your employer. As a team leader or executive, it's your job to treat your remote workers as equal- which includes celebrating their wins as equally. Just because you can't celebrate in the break room with them doesn't mean they don't deserve celebrating.

Even though more and more managers are employing full-time remote workers, there is still a learning curve when it comes to rewarding these out of sight new hires. In leadership positions motivating your employees is a big part of the job, but how do you motivate your employees when you can't look them in the eye without scheduling a meeting first?

When spontaneity is removed from employer-employee interactions, work-based enthusiasm has the potential to be lost as well – but it doesn't have to be. If you take these tips into account, your remote employees will feel more recognized than ever.


1. Create Informal Communication Opportunities

When there is no chance for remote employees to bump into one another in the hall to catch up on last night's big game or show off the cutest pictures of their newborn niece, necessary personal familiarity is lost. Create virtual "water-cooler" sessions once a week to keep open these more friendly lines of communication.

This can be an informal video chat/work session or a dedicated time for chit chat on Slack. With this weekly habit in place, your remote team will look forward to having the chance to chat more casually about themselves and unofficially brainstorm about work-related matters.


2. Organize In-Person Meetings

Yes, informal virtual chat sessions are a must. But so are formal in-person meetings. Even though technology has advanced far enough to allow for seamless communication, face to face meetings still come out on top when it comes to employee recognition. Besides, remote workers know an opportunity to stretch our legs and head to the office however often the budget allows is a great opportunity to finally shake hands with the team members we otherwise can only recognize by their picture on Slack. Take these in-person meetings as an opportunity to not only reward individual team members but commend entire teams on a job well done.

Of course, some remote employees are located so remotely that regular face to face check-ins aren't a realistic option. That's where a video conference camera comes in, one as personal as our Meeting Owl Pro to make your remote employees feel like they're in the room with you.


3. Offer a Workspace Allowance

When the armrest of your desk chair breaks or its time for a new monitor, your office manager is there to save the day by ordering you a new chair with even better lumbar support and a second monitor to accommodate your increasing workload. Remote employees tend to feel like their own office manager – in the middle of a busy week when their desk chair breaks they move to the couch and keep working.

By offering remote workers the incentive of a workspace allowance, to be used on these necessary home-office fixes, you're acknowledging that the functionality of their work environment is just as important as your base office.


4. Bring the Celebration to Them

Inclusivity is an essential factor of any successful business, including how you celebrate the achievements of all your employees equally. This can be difficult when you can't drop off cupcakes for them in the breakroom to celebrate their most recent accomplishment like you would an in-house employee. Here is your chance to be innovative.

If your company is based in Boston, but you have remote employees scattered all over New England the next time you're celebrating one of their achievements send them a Red Sox cap and a sampling pack of Downeast Cider to remind them that they're part of the work-family no matter where they're located. (And if they're a Yankees fan now you'll really have something to discuss at your next virtual water cooler session.)


5. Be Consistent With Recognition

You already know that positive reinforcement is essential to keeping employees engaged and motivated. We all do our best work when we're being recognized for it, remote employees included. Take stock of how and when you recognize your in-office employees and implement the same tactics when recognizing remote employees.

If you tend to reward over-achieving employees in real-time by popping over to their desk, send your remote employee a personal message as soon as you would walk over to them. If you like to wait until your bi-monthly progress meeting to acknowledge jobs well done, make sure you wait until your remote employees are virtually logged in before acknowledging them as well.

When you're consistent with your reward systems, regardless of where your employees are located you're inadvertently making your team more motivated across the board. "Out of sight, out of mind" shouldn't apply to your remote employees, especially when it comes to rewards and recognition.

Kickoff Meeting Planning Guide from Owl Labs