How to show some love to your remote workers

Traditional rewards for your workers, whether it’s the Christmas party or the weekly donut box, don’t really work for remote teams. That doesn’t mean your remote workers should just be left to get on with their job with no perks for a job well done.

Research out of Harvard suggests that one of the biggest problems remote workers face is the feeling of being left out. By making sure there are rewards available for your team and ways to recognise an accomplishment, you’re going to show them they’re valued and keep them engaged.

During the current coronavirus pandemic, more people are going remote and working from home. With the realisation of quite how many functions can be done away from the office, remote working is likely to become much more normal. Companies need to make sure the rewards they offer can migrate to remote working, too.

Here, we’ll go through…

  • The benefits you’ll reap from having a good reward scheme
  • Different ways to reward your team
  • Some ideas for rewards and recognition you can offer

Ok then, let’s jump into it.

Why should I reward remote workers?

It’s an accepted part of any business to have rewards and perks for your staff. In a bricks and mortar office it can be as simple as a reliable stock of tea bags and decent biscuit selection, all the way to extravagant annual parties and overseas trips.

You may think that being able to work in your kitchen wearing your pants at 3am is reward enough for your team. But you actually need to engage your folks more when there’s no “how’s your week been?” in the office lift or a chance to grab a sandwich with your leaders when a project is nearing completion.

Remote workers get major FOMO: they need to know you value their contribution. By recognising their work to the same extent as in-office staff you’re demonstrating your culture to them – that everyone is part of the team.

There’s also a lot of value added by your remote workers, as well as a reduction in your costs. Managing a team that works from home is all about productivity with clear, measurable targets and deliverables. When your colleagues know exactly how they contribute to the bottom line, showing them appreciation will keep them motivated to continue to push the business forward.

How do I give rewards to my remote team?

It’s pretty clear that you can’t shirk your responsibility to give some perks and benefits to your team, no matter where their workstation is set up. There are different ways that you can offer rewards, which method you choose will depend on:

  • The work being done
  • How often you want to recognise contributions
  • What your budget is
  • The tastes of the people being recognised

But there are some general themes that you can look at.

Equity rewards

Vestd exists to make it easy to share ownership in your business with key members - or all - of your team. So naturally we’re inclined to say that this is the best reward of all. It is clear that giving people a piece of the action is incredibly motivating, and it will align your remote team like nothing else.

You can distribute equity in a number of ways. Choosing the right kind of employee share scheme is important if you want to protect existing shareholders while incentivising the team in the most cost effective, tax efficient manner.

In the UK most startups and SMEs should take a look at EMI option schemes, as they are conditional (you set the conditions), the costs of the scheme can be entirely offset against your Corporation Tax liability, and recipients pay just 10% Capital Gains Tax on any gains.

Financial rewards

Although a cash bonus is the first thing that springs to mind, there are many other ways you can help bulk out the wallets of the staff in your company. You also need to consider the tax and benefit implications for your company and team before topping up pay packets directly.

There are companies that allow you to give your remote teams allowances to spend how they want. The team can spend the money in these accounts on whatever they need, giving them the perks that they choose.

This system has some trade-offs, though. Little thought goes into handing over a cash balance to someone, although that type of control can appeal to the independent nature of a remote worker.

Lifestyle rewards

“A better work-life balance” is the mantra of remote work. Being location independent usually goes hand-in-hand with being schedule independent, to some extent at least. You’ve given your remote team the chance to make their own schedule, but you can also help fill it.

Lifestyle perks can cover a range of things, like…

  • Gym memberships
  • Cinema subscriptions
  • Experience vouchers
  • Coffee shop gift cards

All of the above can help people to emulate a workplace routine and social life.

Gifts and deliveries

How nice is it to receive a bunch of flowers? Having something turn up at your door unexpectedly is always fun, and you can give that feeling to your team.

With a little bit of research, you can find suppliers local to your staff and have items delivered to their door that you’ve chosen for them. This will demonstrate that you truly care about your team since you’ve taken the time out to understand them outside of the value they add to the company.

Whether you send a home chef a box of local produce from a local greengrocer, or send a working parent a box of cupcakes or a bottle of wine at the start of school holidays, you’re showing some thought and effort.

Office swag

Your team will need to choose the right kind of kit for their home office, assuming that they’re not working from some other remote location.

A desk and ergonomic chair is essential, and there are an assortment of other items that will make for a killer home office setup. Standing desks are well worth a look too, as they can help improve posture and keep people active. 

Don’t forget about the plants, which can help reduce stress levels and increase productivity. Bloombox provides a plant subscription service, should you wish to send your remote team a regular dose of something fresh! 

I’m on board and ready to be inspired…

It always helps to have tangibles to reach to, so here’s our suggestions for rewards without anyone leaving the house:

  • Organise a team meeting in HouseParty, or an app you never use for work, and send wine/beer/cake to everyone joining.
  • Sign up your team to a streaming service so everyone can have “water-cooler chat” about the latest blockbuster series.
  • Offer an online fitness subscription, or have an instructor run classes just for your team on a weekly schedule.
  • Set up an employee share scheme so your team will be truly invested in your success as you grow and scale up.
  • Coordinate local delivery of coffee in time for your weekly team meeting.
  • Pay for online classes – it can be work related or your colleagues can learn any new skill they want, all on the company.
  • Run a team quiz at 4pm on Friday to wind down the week. Give the winner a voucher to spend at an online store!  

The take home

Going to work every day isn’t just about the salary at the end of the month. We all like to feel valued and like we’re part of a community.

By choosing to reward your remote team in ways that really work for them, you’re going to encourage them to achieve even more for you and your business. Treat it as a long-term investment and it’ll pay off.