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4 min read

In 2019, International Workplace Group (IWG) reported almost 50% of global employees worked remotely for at least half their week. Fast forward one year, and we have seen an unprecedented explosion in remote working, as our focus shifts to maximising employee health and safety over just a few weeks.

It’s likely your organisation has an ever-growing offline or remote workforce, especially given the current conditions we’re living in. 

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are finding temporary remote working as the new normal. It’s more important than ever to reach these employees so they feel supported and connected to the business through frequent updates, as well as appreciated for the hard work they’re doing from afar. 

There are many People Leaders I’ve spoken to who are exceptionally proud of the way their people have responded to the different challenges that the pandemic has presented and want to ensure that that contribution is visible and acknowledged. They know that proactively ensuring visibility of and recognising these contributions is critical to keeping their people motivated, and ensuring that the right behaviours are repeated. 

As leaders, we have an opportunity to elevate recognition and connect people to our organisations and to one another. Here are three ideas for recognising remote employees to foster deeper connections and maintain company culture.

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1. Identify your recognition goals

Recognition isn’t a tick-box solution, but rather a way to help you reach your long-term employee engagement goals. It’s important to ask yourself what you want to see more of in your organisation so that your people know what to recognise others for.

Perhaps you can recognise people for checking in on colleagues and offering help or recognising team members that meet deadlines despite disruptions. You could also start off virtual meetings by asking people “what are you most proud of?” and this may help you identify those behaviours. Here are some other examples:

recognise-what-you-want-to-see-more-of-webinarWhen your people feel appreciated and motivated, productivity and employee wellbeing for remote workers improve. Take some time to outline your recognition goals and care for your people, they’ll be more likely to care for others (including your customers) and stay focused on their role and higher purpose. 

Download our eBook to discover how to connect and recognize remote employees »

2. Encourage manager participation

There’s a strong correlation between manager-led recognition and employee motivation, productivity and overall wellbeing. And this is especially true for employees who don’t have physical “face-to-face” time with their managers. 

Recognising remote employees not only boosts intrinsic motivation, but also improves employee connections across the entire organisation. 

During unprecedented times, people may feel isolated, lonely or overwhelmed and on top of it, they’re still expected to produce high-quality work. The true power of recognition is being appreciative of individuals and the team as a whole to make a big difference in how connected and valued people feel. 

Encourage your managers to dedicate specific time each week to recognising someone on their team. I like to block time off on my calendar so I know that in the morning, after I take my dog, Chloe, for a walk, I spend some time recognising people and it’s a great way to start the day!

strategic employee recognition

3. Create a digital space for recognition

Having a digital space to recognise remote colleagues for their contributions can help them feel less isolated, and more connected to their fellow team members and the wider business. 

While a feel-good eCard or personal note is never a bad thing, organisations can use recognition strategically in times of uncertainty to drive specific behaviours that the business needs. We’ve seen people come together and create visibility on employee contributions during these challenging times.

Let’s dive into a few examples to bring this to life:

missguided-covid-ecard-3missguided-covid-ecard-2







Missguided
, a retail organisation with over 300 employees, launched new "Positivity" eCards from #TeamMissguided with the goal of keeping people connected while working from home with these strategic behaviours.


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Columbus Global UK Limited, a technology business, also created a new eCard, to recognise remote employees and bring people closer together despite location.


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Here at Reward Gateway, we’ve also implemented our own eCards for our 400+ staff across 7 countries, to show our people that we support them and connections are more important than ever.

And although digital recognition programs are key to improving employee engagement, there’s something to be said about a physical certificate. Even though employees are working remotely, there’s still an opportunity to make the reward experience extra special.

With award certifications for nominations, not only can you reduce the administrative burden by bulking nominations together and sending them all out at once, but you can mail these to your people’s homes so they feel connected even from afar. Alternatively, employees can choose to spruce up their home office and print out their branded nomination at home to hang up to stay more connected to the company values.

Thinking into the future and beyond our current situation, it’s essential that we shine a spotlight on those who are going above and beyond in our organisations. Those who are modelling core behaviours now are more likely to stay with your organisation and will be our champions in the long run.

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Now more than ever, we need to make sure that achievements are recognised and visible throughout the entire business. The world we’re living in isn’t the one we’re used to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace innovation and creativity to find new ways to recognise and support our people. I hope these examples have given you inspiration to recognise your own remote employees and foster stronger connections because we’re stronger together.

If you want to learn more about how HR leaders can connect, recognise and support employees, check out our latest webinar below.

Watch the webinar »

Kylie Green

Kylie Green is the Global SVP of Consultancy at Reward Gateway. She has over 20 years of experience working with world's top companies to take their employee engagement strategy to the next level and loves helping leaders find innovative ways to connect with their people and build high-performing, world-class teams.

Global Senior Vice President of Consulting

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